March 18, 2010Read: Matthew 16 "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." --Matthew 16:25

I recently watched a documentary about the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, also known as Easy Company -- arguably one of the most elite group of soldiers of World War II. Those who didn't lose their lives shared their stories of bravery, battles and brotherhood, the likes of which had this weak shell of a writer in a flood of tears.

But prior to D-Day and long before the beaches of Omaha, Utah, Juno, Gold and Sword, the group of men who would come to be known as the angels from the sky had to first prove their readiness. After months of testing and training, only those left standing were given their wings. Interestingly, while their worries were few, the one common fear they all had was whether their chutes would open correctly -- as they were responsible for packing their own parachute the day before each jump.

Please forgive the comparison, but if you and I were responsible for providing a safe landing from our fall, we'd live in fear too. But since God's love reaches lower than our worst mistakes and higher than our greatest accomplishments, we have a green light to stand up, hook up and jump.

Which reminds me, once those boys boarded the plane, despite it all, they couldn't wait to hit the ground and fight. That took uncommon valor. But when Jesus took our place on the cross, it took a miracle of love and grace.


3 STEPS TO A BETTER STRIDE Protect your feet, run easier and conserve energy with these tips

I'll leave more testimonials to the avid runners, but in grad school, we spent semesters studying the mechanics of a running stride. Pretty detailed stuff. Maybe that's why I headed to the weight room. But if you feel you're running inefficiently and a bit out of control, your entire body could need adjusting. Your best plan should be to have an experienced runner or fitness professional examine your gait. Have them watch you and give you credible advice. A few things he or she will be looking for are:

Foot Plant One of the most important phases of running mechanics is the position of your foot when it lands on the ground. When your foot strikes the ground it will land toes first, ball of the foot first, flat footed or heel first. Many runners make the mistake of reaching out in front of their body and landing heel first. Your most efficient foot plant is one in which your foot lands directly under your hips or your center of gravity. You may land on the ball of your foot or flat footed. The ideal landing position is slightly toward the outside edge of your foot, just behind your little toe.

Posture Keep your hips pressed forward and your butt tucked in. Visualize standing face first against a wall. Press your hips forward so that the bones of your hip touches the wall. Running with your hips forward will help your knee lift higher, with less effort.

Arms The main purpose of an arm swing is to provide balance and coordination with the legs. The arms should hang loose and relaxed, close to the body. Avoid excessive movement. You want to avoid any tenseness in the shoulders. Also, allowing your arms to cross in front of your body even slightly can cause excessive and unnecessary twisting of your spine, forcing you to work harder -- futher incentive to keep them close to your sides.