These days, I am following a training plan to prepare for a half marathon that I would like to run in September. The training plan is progressive. You start with running 4.8 km, then after a few weeks you move up to 6.4 km. When running 6.4 km is no longer a big challenge, then the training plan asks you to run 8 km. A few weeks later, when 8 km becomes relatively easy, then you are asked to run 10 km, and so on.
There are no shortcuts. This is a 20-week plan, and slowly builds capacity up to 21.1 km as you faithfully follow the plan. Other training plans for half marathons may be shorter, but they all follow the same principle. You run longer and longer distances as your capacity increases over time.
Earlier in the year, we featured a number of posts by Philip Jackson, a colleague of mine from Macedonia, on the parallels between running a marathon and the Christian life. In that same vein, I would like to reflect on my own recent experience of training for a half marathon.
This has been a huge learning experience for me. I have never been an athlete or competed in any individual athletic competitions since I was required to participate in kids races at Sunday school picnics in my childhood. I jogged in college and in the first years in the Philippines but never ran a single kilometer all those years in Far East Russia. Then about the time that we began serving with SEND U, I started again, simply for the sake of getting some exercise, running 5 km three times a week. That was hard enough, and even last summer, I found that I often could not finish the 5 km without walking partway. When a friend suggested that I should sign up for a longer race, I quickly dismissed the possibility. But this spring, through the repeated encouragement of Phil Jackson, I decided that maybe I should try a half-marathon. I was willing, but I knew I wasn’t even close to being ready to run 21 km. I found a 16-week training plan designed by a running coach and basically followed it from June until the race in Vilnius, Lithuania on September 15. And I finished the race in just over 2 hours, about 13 minutes faster than I had expected!