A few weeks ago I completed the Toughman Half Triathlon in Harriman State Park (NY). The race consisted of a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run. Needless to say, the training for this event is intense. A lot of hard work goes into an accomplishment like this.
While reflecting on the experience, I asked myself why I do this. Why do I spend hundreds of hours and thousands of miles preparing to race each year? It is a thought that crosses the minds of all endurance athletes at some point in their training. Here are my thoughts:
- Training is a spiritual experience. When I exercise or train, especially in solitude, I feel closer to God. I often feel overcome by God’s creation while I traverse the tri-state area on a bicycle or finish a run in North Haledon as the sun is rising (Romans 1:20). I am certain that when God created me, he wanted me to enjoy moving quickly over a long period of time and distance!
- I want to lead by example. I want to motivate my students to practice lifelong fitness and to challenge themselves in all areas of life. A year ago I could not swim two lengths in the pool. Last weekend I swam 1.2 miles, albeit while swallowing plenty of water. Students need to know they can do anything if they commit to it and lean on God for strength (Matthew 19:26). Students do not typically ask their math teacher if she practices equations on her spare time or the history teacher if he participates in Civil War reenactments. They will always make sure that their physical education is exercising, and will undoubtedly be deflated and disenfranchised if their teacher is sedentary.
Students always ask the final results of my races. They usually giggle when I tell them an odd number like 61st (out of 223). They will someday understand the accomplishment as they tackle their own challenges. It may not necessarily be triathlon, but it is my hope that they will overcome their challenges in an area of their lives where God created them to be great.