Recovering From the Marathon

I ran for 4 miles this morning at a 7:20/mile and I feel pretty good. Since the marathon I’ve hit up a total of about 10 miles, stiffness is gone, my foot is no longer sore and blisters are healed. I’m pretty happy with my recovery because it reflects how well I prepared for the race. I know that I could have done better with diet and sleep while I was training but I didn’t push myself too far; yet, achieved all my goals.
That got me thinking about preparing for the weekend and how on certain Mondays I feel more burnt out than others. And really it comes down to how you prepare for the weekend just as in running how you feel after race day comes down to how you prepared for the race. Here are some of the paralleling themes:

  • Rest and Recovery – The old myth with running was to run as much as possible, to log as many miles as possible, but recently I’ve noticed training plans filled with rest, filled recovery time. In ministry it’s important to incorporate both. Rest in ministry is the amount of sleep you get at night and the amount of hours you work in a day. If you work too long and stay up to late you won’t have the energy for the weekend. Recovery in running would be icing, stretching and even the occasional massage, you need to stay lose. In ministry recovery is the time you spend with the Lord, if you’ve dealt with a difficult person, had a rough day, need to be inspired recover your heart through quality time with God.
  • Change Up The Routine – If I were to just run 3 miles every other day, every week for a whole year I might improve as a runner, of course I might burn myself out from mundane routine, but if I want real growth I have to incorporate tempo runs, speed workouts, strength training, long runs and short runs. I think in ministry we have a tendency of making our schedules look the same, we get stuck in a routine and sometimes we need to have those routines (i.e. weekend planning meetings). One thing we’ve done here during the week is shake up some of our meetings. For example our Tuesday staff prayer meeting changes with the series. During one series we did Lectio Divinas, the next series we did intentions, each series brings something new. Sometimes it’s hard to change things up but it’ll make you more flexible in the future.
  • Get Your Gear Ready – The night before a race I love to put out what I’m going to wear, the power gel/bars I’m going to consume, and getting my race bib ready. I do this because in the morning the last thing you want to be doing is stressing out because you can’t find your socks. In ministry it’s important to make sure your materials are ready, that supplies are within arms reach, there have been too many times where I’m flustered going into a message because I didn’t make copies for some handout that doesn’t really matter.
  • Run With Others – I use to be a lone ranger when it came to running and I use to be lone ranger when it came to ministry. Doing anything on your own can be exhausting. This past marathon I did some long runs with a running buddy and it was the best thing in the world. During the actual race it’s so much easier grabbing water/gatorade from a station than carrying the water bottle yourself. During the race it’s so much better to have people at check points to cheer you on, ask how you are doing, take spare clothing you may not need, even in running you need a team. In ministry we need a wise counsel, we need people to cheer us on, we need ministers to help us make the weekend run smooth.

Some of these things may seem obvious but if we don’t take preparation seriously we can get burnt out, in fact I can see why so many people leave ministry, they just never recover from the weekend.