Probably all of us have attended writing workshops, strategy-planning sessions, business retreats - a sojourn where we brainstorm, discuss, and pursue clarity for future goals pertinent to that event.
These "exercises" involve the action of writing down goals, a process that requires thinking, then physically moving the pen or tapping the keyboard so that plan becomes a visual thing. This is not a new tactic, yet a useful tool to keep us moving forward in a specific direction.
If you've followed my blog over the last year (and more), you'll know that I've had challenges accepting setbacks with my physical fitness activities. Coming to terms with making changes I didn't ask for and/or want, has encouraged important soul-searching - evaluating priorities and trusting God for direction and comfort.
Thankfully, with His help, along with that of a lot of other friends (trained in massage, physio, acupuncture, chiropractic procedures, MELT therapy, etc.) I'm able to run again without pain - as long as I don't run every day and use a minimalist shoe. I've gained a new respect for this passion of mine and accept it as a gift to be used with care and thanksgiving.
This spring I committed to my desire to return to the racing scene and registered for the PEI half marathon, scheduled for October 16, 2011. Training went well - other than wiping out in June while running on the road, resulting in a knee gash, swollen bursa sac and some very painful ribs. I had a pretty flexible training routine: there were other activities happening, like taking grandkids to the beach, going for bike rides and overall, enjoying the sweet days of summer.
I drove to PEI with friends who were also running in the event; the day before the race we picked up our bib numbers and checked out the booths at the race expo. OptiMYz (a fitness magazine) had a promo for something free (I didn't win whatever it was) for those who dared to write down their projected finish time for the distance they were doing, and have your picture taken. Uh oh. From previous racing experience I knew how nervous I could get by predicting finishing times, thus I'd invariably go for the maximum end of what I thought I'd be able to do.
This race was for fun and throwing out caution (and possibly common sense), I jotted down a number on the low end of my wish-time, still knowing anything could go awry "tomorrow."
Within an hour, I was thinking, "what have I done?" - not wanting to look like I was totally dreaming. Then waffling back to "what does it matter if you're off by 3, or 5, or 10 minutes?" Regardless, the pre-race jitters were back just like the past: I rolled with it, still enjoying the day sight-seeing, eating the "right" food, drinking water and visiting the bathroom.
All because I'd written down a number.
Race morning. Muscle memory is a term runners embrace and count on - in spite of getting a less-than-restful sleep or your legs are lacking the usual "punch", those muscles of yours will remember what to do because they've done it so many times before. Well, my mind also remembered that my pacing on the first 12km would determine if I would have enough gas or time to finish well so I had to run smart.
I decided to hang close to a pace bunny and a group that were aiming for the same time I'd written down - resolving to pay close attention to my breathing and how I was feeling. With favorite worship songs in my mind, an eye on my watch, and prayers of thanksgiving to be enjoying this sport - plus some diligent effort - I did it. With more than a minute to spare.
A goal that became my focus - because I'd written down a number.
Where else do I write down goals, plans, dreams? Journals, work binders, devotional books and Bible margins. These words are important motivators and reminders.
But we have been given eternal writings, valuable signposts from the greatest designer of all.
"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel....declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people." (Jeremiah 31:33, NIV)
And if we're on His "team", we all win.
"Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.......and they will reign for ever and ever." (Revelation 21:27, 22:5c, NIV)
(Photo courtesy of OptiMYz - Facebook)