Exercise and Learning Discipline

Photo Credit: Josiah Mackenzie

Exercise and Learning Discipline

I’ve never been one for exercise.  I was on the track team in high school but I was a discus thrower.  We tried to avoid running whenever possible.  I’d have spurts in college where I’d lift weights and ride the exercise bike but nothing that serious.  Also I never considered what I ate.

Fast forward eight years.  I have been living in Fort Worth for a few years and decided I want to start bike riding again.  There are bike trails all over town so it will be a great way to see another side of the city.  A friend of mine let me borrow his bike.  One of the first few times I went out riding, I rode over 17 miles.  I was just exploring and wasn’t paying attention.  I paid for it later though. I continued to ride a couple of times a week averaging about 10 miles a trip.  I still wasn’t serious about my eating.

That brings us to around March of this year.  I was flipping the channels one night and got sucked into watching The Biggest Loser.  And it got me thinking about my lifestyle.  I’m a programmer by trade so I’m sedentary most of the time.  I also was eating a lot and nothing all that nutritious.  Starting in April, I became serious and began looking at the nutrition labels on foods and began weeding out things that were just junk.  I bought a scale and began tracking my proposed weight loss.  After two months I have lost 20 pounds.

In the middle of May, I decided I was going to add running to my regimen.  The trainers on Biggest Loser and work colleagues were extolling its virtues.  I was hesitant because of the lack of running in my past and it has always bothered my knees when I did.  But apprehension aside, I went and bought a good pair of running shoes and went out that very afternoon.  I also wanted to set a goal for myself.  I decided that I want to get to where I could run an official 5k.

Now I had been riding for over a year and thought I was in good shape.  So I decided I’d run 2 miles on my maiden run.  I mapped out landmarks for a half-mile and a mile.  I guess my subconscious knew I’d only make it a half mile before wanting to pass out.  My lungs felt like they were going to explode and I was weaving all over the trail because I was so light-headed.  I walked the rest of the two miles and decided I needed a new plan.

I decided that I would do intervals for a total of 3 miles.  I marked out 400m & 800m in the area and began running 400m and then walking 400m till I reached 3 miles.  I did this for a week or so and then decided that I’d move up to 800m.  Last week I was finally able to run all three 800m segments.  I would start out really fast on my first two and wouldn’t have enough energy for the last.

Which brings me to today.  I decided I wanted to bump up my routine to 1200m segments.  I was thinking that in a week or two I’d be able to run a mile without having to walk.  So I drove through the neighborhood marking out the landmarks and even went ahead and marked out the mile marker for future reference.

I started off and decided to set a slower pace.  I knew that I had been pushing myself too hard and knew if I kept it up, I wouldn’t be able to reach a mile.  I passed the 800m marker and wasn’t breathing that hard.  I kept going.  I hit the 1200m marker and the same thing.  Ok, I guess I’ll run a mile before I stop.  I passed the mile marker and still felt good.  At this point, I’m dumbfounded.  I felt a bit like Forrest Gump and “I just kept running.”  So I decided, why not try and run the whole 3 miles.  And I did.  I covered three miles in under 34 minutes.

Several things occurred to me as I just kept running and trying to understand what was going on.  One, I probably looked really goofy because I had the biggest grin on my face.  I just couldn’t comprehend what my body was doing.  The Lord also used this time to teach me a few lessons.

  • When I try and do things my way, I run at an unmaintainable pace and eventually flame out.

  • God will give you strength to continue on when you least expect it, and He will blow you away with what you accomplish by His power.

But I was also left with a question, “If I can discipline my body like Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 9, why can’t I discipline my spirit?”

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. - 1 Timothy 4:8