On my Tuesday morning run this week I had an opportunity to be reminded of the importance on keeping the main thing the focus of what I am doing rather than be distracted by the multitude of little things that entice me to consider stopping. Twice a week I head off on a 5km run by the river with my husband. Most days I am more of a reluctant participant, knowing that it’s good for me to run, and a couple of minutes in I almost always enjoy the physical challenge.
This week, I was reasonably okay with the prospect of running, and we set off without any hesitation. I have been carrying a small injury in my left foot, and the first thing I notice is that I have this recurring pain beginning to build. In itself it is not enough to stop me from running, but I am aware that I will have to treat with ice and elevation when I get home.
Added to that I begin to notice that my right knee has an occasional stabbing pain. What I normally encounter is that once my body and muscles warm up these kinds of pain settle down and I can finish the course, but today I am focussing on my knee and the inconvenience of it all.
On each run I use an app on my phone that tracks how far I go as well as my pace and heart rate, and gives me my stats every 5 minutes. As I approach the spot where my first set of stats is told to me I realise that something is not quite right. I grab out my phone and discover that for some reason my app had paused at the 20 second mark and had failed to record 500 metres of my run so far.
At this moment all I wanted to do was stop and head back home, after all, what was the point? I had been running my heart out, with pain, and my app had not recorded those 500m. This would mean that at the end of my run I will be missing distance and it will throw my overall stats out. The desire to quit was almost overwhelming, and if David had not been keeping pace with me I am not convinced I would have kept going.
But he was, and I did.
I started by asking myself why keeping the stats was so important to me? They are ultimately there to help me record my activity and how I was improving over time, but surely the more important thing was the fact that I was actually out running, rather than keeping track of how far and fast I was going. Losing one day’s activity was not the end of the world, and so I decided to keep the main thing the main thing, and I quit my app and focussed on completing the run.
The remaining 30 minutes of my run I see-sawed between wanting to complete my run and wanting to quit. Each time the urge to stop crept up I told myself the main thing was that I was being active, when I could have just as easily stayed at home. This helped me push aside the negative thoughts and I finished my 5km in reasonable time.
Perseverance is an important life lesson. There are always plenty of reasons that crop up to encourage us to give up, and yet we need to remember to keep that main thing (whatever it may be), the main thing. A verse in the Bible tells me to “let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James chapter 1 verse 4). When I persevere I demonstrate my capacity to face tough things and not let them beat me.
If ever I needed this lesson, it is now, and so I am grateful that I was able to persevere on Tuesday, and that I was also able to reflect on the lesson that it brings for a wider application in my current journey.