“Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else” -Galatians 6:4
How many of us will ever play in Yankee Stadium, Lambeau Field, or Wimbledon …while the place is packed with fans there to cheer their players? This is one aspect of running that makes the sport so unique. Many of you have lined up at races where the top American and international runners line up in front of you. Once you begin, everyone is running the same course, everyone hears the same fans cheering you on, and at the end everyone is trying to do their best!
While that makes running special for all of us, I have also been blessed to have some amazing encounters with a few of these elite athletes that I have shared with you on my about page. This past weekend was the Boilermaker 15k in Utica, NY and it reminded me of a couple of other experiences I had in 2010 and 2011, when I spent this same weekend driving for over 5 hours with top Kenyan runners to this race. While I primarily acted as their “driver”, my relationship and experience with these runners was much more than I could have imagined.
Last year I went up with Samuel Ndereba (his sister is Catherine “The Great” Ndereba) and Simon Ndirangu, both of whom are amazing men. They not only gave me a few running tips but reinforced my experience with Christian runners as they talked about their strong faith. As we ate meals with many other elite athletes from around the world, it was clear these men were humble, supportive, and encouraging to everyone including those who they would be running against.
Who is the Competition?
All of the elite runners I met there make running their livelihood and as a result they must be competitive. I asked them many questions from everything that included nutrition to the rivalry between the Kenyans and Ethiopians. One of the many things we discussed was the importance to not focus on the competition but to look within and prepare oneself for the race rather than worry about everyone else. It reinforced that while the athletes all want to win, running is a sport where you must dig deep within oneself and endure more self-inflicted pain than most other athletes experience. At the end you must do your best and be grateful for the ability to compete at that level.
What we have and not what we want!
I think we all compare ourselves to others whether we are lining up at the starting line of a race, at work, and in many other areas of our lives. Like running in a race, life is challenging enough that we should not focus on what others have. Rather we need to be thankful for those gifts we have and not what we want. All of us are blessed in different ways and it is important for us to not lose sight of this and of our Lord who has blessed each one of us!