Friday, February 17, 2012

Ryan Hall, Running with Joy

In high school, I hated reading and more so I hated book reports.  Today I enjoy reading very much and enjoy letting known my opinions on these books.  The lesson here is if we are interested in the subject matter…we may find a love for something we once dreaded.

Ryan Hall may be the best American born long distance runner to come along in the last decade.  An American marathon medal in 2012 rests squarely on the shoulders of the London bound men’s team.

The professional athletes world is so much different then the 9 to 5 of us mortals.  I find it fascinating when we get an opportunity to look inside their world.  Hall offers us a glimpse inside his world, the world as a professional runner and as a Christian.  Both were inspiring to me and very informative on what makes Ryan tick.

Amateur runners may assume that running for a profession would be so easy, everything is set up for you to run and you’re getting paid to do it.  This book confirms, although we both run, the amateur and the professional, we do so in two totally different plains.  Ryan provides a day by day glimpse into this part of his world.  He outlines his training program leading up to the 2010 Boston marathon, not only commenting on his training but also on the pressures and fears that go along with competing against the worlds best long distance runners.  For those of us who find it a challenge to get in our daily workout, Hall goes to great lengths detailing his two a day workouts, giving mileage, time and types of runs.  The book offers a unique perspective on a life centered on getting in the miles compared with the average runner who must squeeze in miles between work, home, errands and all the distractions of life.  Ryan not only defines his workouts with the measurables (distance, speed and time) but he also lets the reader in on the mental aspect of trying to get your body to perform at world class level day in and day out.  After reading this book I find it insightful that the elites struggle with both physical and mental performance as well.

In the book, Ryan also comes clean on how running effects his out look on life and of himself.  Yet he also offers a great point of view that God gave him the gift of being a world class runner to inspire others and not to measure himself or be defined by his performance.  The “joy” of running is something we all have and Ryan highlights that when we run for the joy of the run, not the reward at the end of the race we are truly able to reach a higher level of performance, and that does not always mean being the first one to break the tape.  Ryan finds for himself and points out for his readers that God wants the best for each one of us, and we need to see ourselves through God’s eyes…not by the time on the clock, the position we finish in a race or by the world standards imposed on us.

Who is truly the winner?  The natural athlete who has everything going for them and finishes the race first, or the middle aged women who over came cancer, ran in the wee hours of the morning while holding down a job, and won her age group at a local 5k?  The truth is we all win some and we all lose some.  Victory is in the joy!

Ryan Hall’s Running for Joy is a very good read, I highly recommend it.

 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:35,37 NIV

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