08-25-12

the benefit of athletics in christianity

I just fin­ished run­ning an Olympic Triathlon. “Olympic” clas­si­fies the dis­tance of the triathlon. It involves swim­ming 1500m (.93mi), bik­ing 40k (24mi), and run­ning 10k (6.2mi). It’s pretty intense and takes a fair amount of ath­letic abil­ity (which I never knew I had in me til this summer).

One of my friends who I train and run triathlons with came along for the ride just to watch my race. On the ride home we talked about the inten­sity, fatigue, and moti­va­tion that came with this race. We then began point­ing out all the par­al­lels that these races have to the Chris­t­ian life.

There’s obvi­ous par­ralells that you could think of:

  • Press­ing on towards the mark
  • Not being dis­tracted, but focus­ing ahead
  • The pain and suf­fer­ing that comes through the journey
  • Ups and downs. Some­times feel­ing like you can’t go on and other times get­ting the 2nd wind and feel­ing good

There’s a more prac­ti­cal par­al­lel, though, that I’d like to point out. Triathlon (and races in gen­eral) take a con­sid­er­able amount of dis­ci­pline to pre­pare. I’ve had to dili­gently get out and train (even when I don’t feel like it), I’ve changed my diet and cut out things I really like, and in gen­eral I’ve invested a lot of time and money into this.

By dis­ci­plin­ing my mind and body in this way, I’ve seen it carry over to my spir­i­tual life. There’s a dili­gence to talk to God and let him talk to me, even when I don’t feel it. My will power to say “no” to sin has increased. My mind is sharp­ened and on edge towards spir­i­tual things.

Per­haps this dis­ci­pline can be achieved through alter­na­tive means, but I’ve found ath­let­ics to be one of the most effec­tive tac­tics among many things I’ve tested and tried in the past. As a bonus, I’m liv­ing health­ier and feel great because I’m in the best shape of my life.

For those of you “over the hill” who say that your days of ath­leti­cism have passed, I don’t want to hear it. I’ve been beat mul­ti­ple in pre­vi­ous races by men and women in their 60s and 70s. So you see, there’s hope even for the older!

Seri­ously, though, our down­fall in Chris­tian­ity often comes down to our lazi­ness which is inbred in us by the lazi­ness of this cul­ture. Hav­ing a high work ethic in your job doesn’t always count because it’s moti­vated by money and advance­ment. Out­side of work, if we were hon­est, most of us aren’t as hard work­ers as we are in the work place.

How­ever, ath­let­ics require self-​​motivation. So does the Chris­t­ian life. There you go, my thoughts on why being involved in ath­let­ics can be/​is ben­e­fi­cial to the spir­i­tual life.