Who’s at the center of your race?
Growing up, I never considered myself a runner. But during my sophomore year of college, a friend convinced me to run a 5K Turkey Trot. Secretly, I was really nervous.
However, while the training runs were difficult at first, I quickly fell in love with the sport when I realized it gave me an opportunity to feel close to God. Ever since I was a child in the Christian Science Sunday School, I’ve loved knowing that everything we do is about more than just the activity. It’s about understanding God as the source of all goodness and recognizing that we express God’s qualities—which then helps us break through limitations.
I found that when I ran, there were many opportunities to actively pray to recognize how I was expressing God’s qualities. Contrary to what I’d thought, running wasn’t about sheer athleticism but about feeling the unlimited strength and “divine energy” that come from God, Spirit (see Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, p. 249).
This race had become more me-focused than God-focused.
My Turkey Trot race went well, and after that, I started running more frequently. I grew to love running so much that I made a goal to run a half marathon. When I discovered that a close friend also wanted to run one, we decided on the 2019 GO! St. Louis half marathon.
I was excited, but I’d never run over four miles at one time in my life. Could I really be ready to run 13.1 miles in just a few months?
I was determined to achieve this goal, so I created a training plan, and over winter break worked on increasing my stamina and mileage. During one of my runs, however, I pushed myself too far and strained or pulled something in my inner thigh. I was afraid that if I took a break or deviated too much from my strict plan, I wouldn’t be prepared come race day. So I tried to keep running and push through the discomfort. But I soon realized that it would help me more if I took a break from running and prayerfully addressed the injury.
I called a Christian Science practitioner to pray with me, and one of the ideas she shared was that I could switch my focus from exercising my body to exercising dominion over my body. To me this meant that I had God-given authority to reject anything that God couldn’t and wouldn’t cause, such as injury or pain. Instead, I could embrace qualities of God like agility and flexibility and understand that nothing could stand in the way of me expressing them, since I am spiritual and reflect God.
I was grateful when the pain went away, and I returned to running; but I was afraid I might strain something again. Plus, I was also dancing in my college’s dance production, and missing either that or the race was out of the question.
I focused less on myself and more on God’s qualities—both in me and in everyone around me.
About halfway through the semester, I strained the same muscle and was instantly overwhelmed with fear. Race day was only a couple of weeks away and the dance production only a couple more weeks after that. When I spoke with my mom about how I was feeling, she shared an acronym she’d thought of while she was praying: LEG, or:
Go (before me)
She told me that I needed to let the one Ego, or God, go before me, or lead the way, and I realized this also meant that I needed to let go of ego with a little e, representing a sense that I was separate from God or that I was my own source of ability and strength. It occurred to me that this race had become more me-focused than God-focused. Where running had once been my opportunity to express God, it had since become a competition with myself.
I started praying to see more of God expressed not only on my runs but also in dance practices. I focused less on myself and more on God’s qualities—both in me and in everyone around me. A quick healing followed, and the fear melted away. I was soon able to run and dance normally again.
On race day, I asked a Christian Science practitioner to pray with me, and I focused on expressing freedom, grace, and movement—God’s qualities. Friends also cheered me on and supported from the sidelines. I ran the entire 13.1 miles and finished with an abundance of joy and energy. I had no aftereffects from the long-distance run and was able to transition seamlessly into two intense weeks of rehearsals for the dance show.
Learning what it means to keep the one divine Ego, God, at the center of things and eliminate a personal sense of ego has been a lesson that’s extended beyond running. I’ve loved applying it to all aspects of my life and seeing how this always takes the pressure off and allows me to see and express more of God.