To the Next Marathon, Without a Break

Get Me A ChairI’ve been sharing this article (The Second Marathon) far and wide since it came out at the beginning of July.  In fact, all my Group Coaching participants worked with this article over the summer instead of the originally planned curriculum.  We had rich and important conversations stemming from this article. 

I encourage you to read the article and this blog posts with others who work in the church or schools or hospitals or so many other places. Have you own discussion about the marathon you’ve already completed and the second marathon (or perhaps a marathon-length Tough Mudder) we’ve just begun.

A Literal Marathon

I’ve completed a marathon.  ONE marathon. 

I’ve never been an athlete.  Throughout school, I was never even able to run a mile in the allotted time during the humiliating Presidential Fitness Awards yearly tests. (And pullups? forgetaboutit!)

Shortly after I became a priest, I found out my all-too-often migraines were caused by caffeine withdrawal.  I went cold turkey on the coffee, and my migraines became a rarity.  On the other hand, I was having a tough time getting going in the mornings.  I decided to start jogging.  For me that meant beginning with jogging for one side of one block, and walking the rest of the way.  When I could do that well, I moved up to two sides of the block.  This was way before Couch-to-5-K or even better the Zombies-will-get-you-running-podcast.

I completed my first 5k on my 28th birthday.  I finished beside a 78-year old.  Really.  A friend also finished and placed.  He gave me his bronze medal (and later became my husband).  

Weirdly, miraculously, I realized I actually enjoyed very, very slow running.  At a conference a few years later, I got lost on what was supposed to be a 3 to 4 mile run.  I ended up going for 12 miles.  TWELVE miles!!!!  When I realized I had accidentally done a half-marathon, I decided I had to do a full marathon.

The next week I signed up for a training group for the Disney Marathon raising funds for the American Heart Association.  I ran so slow that I trained with the walkers group instead of the runners, but I still loved it.  I couldn’t believe what my body could do!  

In January 2000, I completed the Disney Marathon weighing 216 pounds.  I’ve been told I was not the last one to cross the finish line, but I believe that is only because races have “sweepers” (assigned runners to be the actual last to cross the finish line).  I did it.  It was awesome!  

AND…I can’t imagine every doing it again.  The next day, I hobbled to breakfast like I was ancient. 

The first quarter of the race, I ran faster than I ever had before (a rookie mistake).  I didn’t hydrate and eat sufficiently at the end of the race, partly because an aid station or two had packed up by the time I got there.  I didn’t stretch sufficiently and do some short jogs like I should have that evening.  I cried through a short, short, slow, slow run the next day…and never ran again.

Had someone slapped a number on me during that short, short, slow, slow run the next day, I likely would have thrown up on them, stumbled, and knocked others down.  I.had.nothing.left.

And yet, if that was my only way home, I would have done all I could to push through and get it done.  Metaphorically, that’s what we’re doing as leaders right now in the church, in schools, in healthcare and more. 

Questions to Ponder

Here’s the list of questions I shared with my Group Coaching clients to help them reflect on their first marathon, their second marathon, and what they need to make it through.

The Lay of the Land

  1. “Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?” What oppressive ideas from capitalism/consumerism/white supremacy have crept into your life, what do you need to name and renounce? 
  2. What words and what people have hurt your feelings or shook your resolve this pandemic?  
  3. What mattered most to you during this pandemic?
  4. What do the first few miles of your next marathon look like?
  5. What were the most important/helpful skills you used this last year?
  6. What skills do you expect you will most need in the coming year?
  7. Who have been your most important supports this past year?
  8. Who would you like to cultivate or add to your support network in the coming year?

Running Smart

  1. If you could create the aid station you needed during this second marathon, what would it include?
  2. What would you need to say “no” to in order to say “yes” to what God desires in your life?
  3. What questions would you most like to have the courage/energy to ask?
  4. Is there a new boundary you would like to try for a season?

Embodied, Together

  1. What tweaks could be made so that your spiritual director and therapist are more help in the coming year?
  2. What step might you take around eating, drinking and moving that would honor your body as beloved of God?
  3. Name 3 people who could be your allies in walking this second marathon.  How will you connect with them?  

And You?

Find a buddy or gather a group and talk together about your first marathon and your current marathon and what you need to make it through. 

Leave a comment or send me a message to let me know what you think. 

Ready for some Individual Coaching to help you get through this next marathon?   Book a free half-hour session with me through calendly here or register for Individual Coaching here.


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