12 Secrets About Prayer That Every Runner Should Know

Running is an thoroughly enjoyable hobby. But, it can get demanding as well, especially if you are a long distance runner.

They often say “no pain, no gain”.  Running is no different. You suffer pain – physically and emotionally.  Having successfully completed 3 Comrades Marathons, I can say with absolute certainty that the gains are second to none.

As a Christian, I have seen the amazing benefits of prayer in my life. Those benefits have shown themselves abundantly in my running life as well.

In this post, I want to share those benefits and hopefully inspire other runners to start praying. For those who pray, I hope it inspires them to continue doing it.

1. Gives you identity

Running boasts the most active participation worldwide. As a result, it is easy to get lost in that sea of runners.

In many ways running – especially long distance running – is a culture.

Whilst the culture has an incredible amount of benefits, it has the potential to steal your identity.  Without a strong back-bone that keeps you grounded, you can get lost in the some of the negative aspects of the running culture.

Prayer has kept me grounded and ensured that I maintain my identity. I love running – with every ounce of me. But, I don’t worship it. I am an individual outside of running.

2. Enables you to trust

Trust is a major stumbling block in modern society. Sadly, without trust, nothing works or grows.

I’m not suggesting you go and trust every Tom, Dick and Harry that you bump into as a runner.

But, I have seen prayer align me with the right type of fellow runners – people I can trust. From buying the right type of running shoes to issues related to my training, such as speed training, they have always given me invaluable advice.

Those runners have helped me to grow as a runner in ways I can’t describe.

3. Helps you find time

Time is a scarce resource.

Even though most people know that good health is incredibly important, they can hardly find time to exercise for 30 minutes per day. Can you imagine how challenging it is to dedicate on average 5 hours per week to long distance running?

Prayer has helped me use my time wisely. It has helped me to structure my days effectively so I can find enough time for my running.

I am eternally grateful for that.

4. Adds the super to the natural

I don’t for one second take the grace on my running ability for granted.

Training for Comrades Marathon requires physical, emotional and mental strength. In fact it is often said running 87 kms on race day is the easiest part of the journey. The toughest part is training for race day.

Those months of consistent training are gruesome.

Tackling the entire event requires super-natural approach. Likewise, training for a marathon or ultra-marathon requires a super-natural approach.

Prayer adds that super to my natural efforts. To simply approach it with natural strength is asking for trouble!

5. Improves your attitude

Long distance running training can get tough. Races can get frustrating as well.

Many a times, I’ve heard fellow runners complain about many things such as race officials, the weather and water points on race day.

Yes, it sucks to run when officials are not paying attention. It sucks to run in unfavourable running conditions. It sucks to get to water points and find no water.

Despite all these challenges, I find prayer keeps my attitude towards running positive. It gives me the ability to deal with issues that have the potential to ruin my running experiences.

6. Makes you a selfless runner

As a runners, the potential to get selfish is very real and ugly.

Why? Because as human beings we are inherently selfish.

We want to receive in most, if not all, instances.

Yet, the old, often boring cliché tells us “it is more blessed to give than it is to receive”.

Giving of your time when a fellow runner is struggling is tough when you are chasing your Personal Best time. Blessing a less privileged athlete with an entry fee to an event, transport fare, accommodation or a pair of running shoes goes a long way.

Below is act of selflessness I saw on a Facebook group I am part of:

blessing_others

It’s unpopular to be selfless. But, I find prayer makes it that much easier and more fulfilling.

7. Enforces self-control

As I write this post, I have the Comrades Marathon coming up in 3 days. That means I’ll be out of town, spending a couple of days away from home.

Prior to race day, a lot of time is spent with fellow athletes of the opposite sex. During those interactions, there is potential for temptations that lead to undesirable results.

When no one is watching and you are far away from your spouse or partner, I have found that prayer enforces self-control and enables you to avoid temptations that can lead to your downfall.

8. Helps you stay calm

It’s a 6am and we are all at the starting point of a popular marathon.

Thousands of runners await the gun to go off to signal the start. As soon as the gun goes off, there’s pushing and shoving. Some step and knock you over. As the field begins to spread, you get runners who cut right across your running path – often causing you to take evasive action.

At water points, some splash you with water whilst others spit right into your running path.

These are some of the crazy and potentially upsetting behavior that fellow runners get up to. I’ve heard runners swear at one another in frustration and anger.

Prayer keeps me calm when fellow runners do crazy stuff that drives you up the wall.

9. Provides protection

Running poses many dangers.

Training in the mornings before sunrise poses a danger.

Training on the break of dawn on weekends, when some are driving back from clubs and parties sometime drunk and tired, poses a danger.

Running in traffic poses a danger.

Running in races poses a danger when drivers refuse to listen to traffic officials.

Year after year, we lose fellow runners to non-sensical drivers.

Prayer protects me from these unfortunate and sad occurrences we often hear about.

10. Enables you to admit you can’t control everything

Being a long-distance runner takes a lot of self-discipline. It also makes you a control freak.

Be it the training, the carb-loading days prior to race day or the race day strategy – you want to be in control.

But life deals you its fair share of lemons that remind you that you can’t control everything. Oftentimes, there are life-changing lessons to be learnt from our losses or mis-haps.

Catching a cold the night before a major event, when you’ve done everything in your power to stay healthy, is frustrating.

Suffering a freak injury days leading to a major event can bring you to tears.

In all this, prayer reminds that I can’t control everything. I can only do my best and the rest I have to place in God’s trusting hands.

11. Empowers you to lead a balanced lifestyle

I’ve already mentioned that running takes up a lot of time.

In all this, running only covers two areas out of the eight key areas of life.

My running takes care of my health and my pleasure. I still need to dedicate time to my spiritual, mental, career, financial and charitable activities.

I need to make sure that the inspiration behind this blog keeps burning.

Prayer helps me keep perspective and gives me the wisdom to lead a balanced lifestyle.

12. Helps you appreciate Life

Long distance running is not for the faint-hearted. Neither is life.

Life is a constant challenge. Each and every single day we are faced with problems that we need to solve. Some of those problems suck. They really do. Sometimes you wish you could just be an infant and care less.

But, in all this, life is beautiful. I live in an extra-ordinary country – with an extra-ordinary culture. Prayer helps me appreciate that life could be much worse than it is. Running helps me appreciate that my good health is an incredible blessing that helps me live life to the fullest.

Conclusion

Prayer is an integral component of my running.

In my 6 years of running, I can’t express enough the gratitude I have. I can’t articulate enough the changes I’ve seen in my life.

In all this, I thank God for giving me the strength to change my life around and also giving me a maintenance plan to sustain that change. This maintenance plan, I call “prayer”.

 


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