My daughter and I are training for her first foot race and have had a good time running together. She enjoys exercising and the healthful feelings she gets after she runs in the morning — as do I! Two weeks ago we started interval training, where you run for short distances as fast as you can, rest, and do it again multiple times. It’s really hard and pushes you more than you think you can do the first time you try it. She was super nervous and kept saying, “I just don’t think I can do this.” I kept reassuring her that I knew she could and that 90% of doing something hard comes from our minds, not our bodies. Then I started to talk to her about the principle of “Digging Deep” and that when she thinks she’s out of gas and can’t go one step further if she’ll look inside and really dig deep she’ll find that there’s still more to give.I shared with her the experience I had running my first full marathon. That’s 26.2 miles for those of you that are not familiar with a marathon. I trained nonstop for almost 6 months, including 4 hours of running on Saturdays. It was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. I was excited and nervous all at the same time as I lined up for the starting line. The longest distance I had run in training was 20 miles — because the last 6.2 miles are all in your head, your body will have given out at that point and it’s up to your mind to keep you going. You can’t really train for it, you can only do it. On race day I kept my race pace solid and consistent for the first 22 miles and then I just couldn’t keep my desired pace any longer. I knew I had hit the dreaded “wall” and would have to “Dig Deep” to find the mental power required to push myself the final 4.2 miles to the finish line without stopping. So I tried to think positive thoughts — no good. I tried to think of my wife cheering me on at the finish — only worked for about half a mile. Then, I thought, “Who are the people in my life who have demonstrated that they could really dig deep, I mean, everything was against them and nothing was left, but they did it anyway?”
I said a quiet prayer to God for help and my paternal grandfather immediately came to mind. A couple of years earlier, at nearly 90 years old, he found out he had lung cancer and maybe a month or two to live without treatment, but the treatment would be horrible and painful and only prolong his life up to a year. He decided to go through the treatment and it was horrible and excruciating just like they told him. Why did he do it? It wasn’t to live longer, no, it was so he could spend as much extra time as possible with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren before he passed away. I’m starting to feel tears well up just writing this. Now, imagine a completely exhausted, worn out runner at 23-24 miles into his first marathon vividly remembering these same things. What happened? Well, the first thing that happened was I immediately began bawling like a baby! I was having a hard time seeing I was crying so hard! After finally getting that under control and then laughing about it I realized that I indeed felt just a little bit stronger, that I had just enough extra mental power to not stop — that I would be able to make it to the finish line. That was the hardest thing I had ever done but it was also one of the most amazing discoveries as well. I learned that when we dig deep, really deep, that there is still something there for us to draw on. God has endowed us with a miraculous capacity to keep pushing ourselves even when we think there’s no way to push forward — all we have to do is ask for His help and He will be there.
I shared this story with my daughter and we started our first of three intervals. We were breathing so hard for the next mile that we didn’t have the breath to say another word to each other. I didn’t know if she would hate it, if she would want to stop training, or what. When we finally caught our breath again at the end of our run she turned to me and said, “That was incredible! I thought, ‘There is no way I can do this’ when we did the first one. But then I remembered you said to dig deep. So when I was about to give up I went to dig deep and found I had a lot more inside of me than I knew. Who knew?! That was just incredible Dad!”
It’s moments like this that make me realize that it must be incredible to be our Heavenly Father as he looks down on us and watches us turn to Him for help in our humble, broken way and after He gives it to us we realize, “Wow! Look what I can do with God’s help! It’s more than I ever imagined.” Pretty amazing.
When you hit your wall, don’t forget, God is right outside that door. Just knock. Just ask. He will answer. You will receive more strength than you ever thought possible. You can do it. Dig Deep.
My name is Mike