Much like physical training, trials and testing build endurance and strengthen faith. I learned this truth as a long-distance runner in high school.
Without suffering through daily workouts of varying difficulty, I would not have been prepared for my races. Adding my own personal workouts strengthened an inner resolve. When faith in myself wavered, perseverance pushed me on. When fatigue coaxed me to give up, conviction gave a rally cry. The one-step-forward-two-steps-back increased my ability to go further the next time. Experience through navigating specific trails reduced repeat trials. Focusing on personal principles shortened—or at least eased—the pain of the training period. I had a similar experience during “it.”
But, building endurance and strengthening faith require a key component—a team. I noticed a distinct difference between my track and cross country team workouts.
Tracks races are based on individual performance. Sprinters train with sprinters and milers with milers. Everyone competes against everyone else. A team score exists, but the focus is more on personal bests and who crosses the finish line first. Maybe that was one of the reasons I decided not to run the mile my senior year and switched to high jump.
The cross country team was a team. In the off-season, we challenged each other to run 300 miles in the summer. We gorged on sugar before the first race and then gave it up for the season. The coaches didn’t just develop the workouts. They worked out with us. Everyone ran the same race. The first mile we ran as a pack. The second mile we broke into our own strides, but still caught the momentum of the teammate in front or alongside. Personal bests were still exciting and celebrated. But, the team score was the ultimate goal. I only wish I had discovered cross country before my junior year. Being part of that team made me a better person.
Enduring the trial and testing of any “it” requires of faithful team. Everyone needs at least one mentor (coach) and a trusted group (teammates) willing to be part of the workout. That team will be waiting to share in the joy at the finish line.
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