CHEER ME UP

July 20, 2011Read: Hebrews 12

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses...”-- Hebrews 12:1

I know beyond a doubt that I’m not the first person to see heaven in a marathon, nor will I be the last. But standing among the countless other witnesses along the cement track just begged a comparison.

Maybe it was the blind runner holding on to his guide to get him through the miles. Or perhaps it was each coach strategically placed throughout the trail to encourage and motivate. (Indeed, each warrants a devotional all their own). But for me, it was written on a little girl’s shirt as she anxiously awaited her daddy to come running. It simply said, "Cheer me up." Not "Cheer me on" or "Cheer me through" but... "up." And with every passing group of runners, her shirt would come into view. Not knowing the context, I dismissed it.

But it wasn’t until the race was over, while I was waiting in the designated Family Reunion area, that her shirt made sense. We too are being encouraged each day. By those we know and those we don’t, and even by those we can’t even see. And someday, when our race is over and the good Lord calls us home, we’ll reunite with loved ones and strangers who have been anxiously awaiting our arrival –cheering us up – all along the way.

–J.P.

SO YOU WANNA RUN A MARATHON?

If you answered the above question "yes," PrayFit editorial director Eric Velazquez probably asked "Why?" with a look of confused pain on his face. But if all this talk of running has ignited a spark in your gut about taking on a marathon, we've done half our job. The other half would be for us to help you prepare. For that we look to our friends at Runner's World for some helpful training tips. If you're new to running, today's helpful tidbit is just for you.

BEGINNER: Who, exactly is a "beginner?" Well, if you've run 15 to 20 miles a week for at least six months, completed a 5K or 10K -- perhaps even something longer, you are a beginner. A marathon beginner can run five or six miles without collapsing afterward and want to gradually become a stronger runner with a marathon on the horizon.

>> The Plan. You're going to train just three to four days a week and gradually increase your weekly mileage from around 10-15 to 35-plus miles a week. The biggest key of all will be to gradually increase your mileage, especially that of your weekend long run. "The beginner needs to focus almost entirely on the long run," says anaerobic management coach Jon Sinclair (www.anaerobic.net), "but it's also good to throw in a little hill work and some aerobic intervals on alternate weeks to bolster your stamina and to liven up your training."

Lastly, we're going to have you running two low-key races -- such as a half marathon or 10K --  to get the feel of competition before the big day.

>> TOUGHEST WORKOUT EVER: Well, the contest isn't on anymore but we're still curious -- what was your toughest workout ever? If you continually challenge yourself, there's likely one or two workouts that stand out. Share here on our forums!