Yesterday, I reached the half-way point in training for a marathon – week 9 of 18 is complete. What that really means is I ran 16 miles. Sixteen of the 26.2 to come on April 15. Only 4 more 1-mile increases in the long runs – up to 20. And you know what is significant about that? I felt GREAT! I have done 7 half-marathons (13.1 miles) and I felt better after 16 miles yesterday than I have after most of the half-marathons I have done. And I can only attribute it to two things:

  1. God’s grace.
  2. Training.

I have been running consistently for quite some time, but to a higher level of consistency over the past year and a half. I have been pushing up from regular runs of 3 miles to regular runs of 5 miles. I have been pushing my speed on those shorter runs. I have been following a set training schedule as consistently as possible for the last nine weeks, lifting two days a week, running two shorter, one mid-size, and one long run each week. I have been eating carefully and healthily. I have been reading books about marathon training to get ideas that will help. I have made this training a priority in my life. And I have found that it is working! I am running farther at faster paces. I am feeling good after my runs. I am enjoying the process, even on tough days. I am finding that when it gets hard and I push through, I am not only becoming a better runner, but my character is growing as well.

And this has gotten me thinking about training ourselves in other areas of our lives. Is making time for the Lord hard for you? Set yourself a training schedule and stick to it. Do you want a stronger marriage? Make a plan for how you can get there and then follow-through. Is family time lacking in your house? Re-orient your schedule and write your family in.

One of the things that really helps for me is to actually schedule time for all of these things. I know that I will be working out every weekday morning at 5 or 5:30 (depending on distance) and I have friends that I meet who hold me accountable to that. I schedule every evening before bed to spend time doing my devotions, praying and writing in my journal. Every Tuesday night at our house is scheduled as Family Game Night (the evening may vary year-to-year, but we make this a priority in our house.) Mike and I have a standing “date” to go away for our anniversary and make an effort to have regular times together throughout the year as well.

By verbalizing our priorities and scheduling our time, we are in essence training ourselves to get better and to grow in certain areas. And training works! You do get better. You do improve. That doesn’t mean there won’t be setbacks, but when there are, you get back up and get going again.

What areas do you need training in?