Have you ever heard of the Ironman triathlon? This past weekend my town hosted the 11th U.S. Ironman race of the year. The following, from the official Ironman website, is a description of what the competitors would encounter…
“IRONMAN Chattanooga will begin with a point to point, 2.4-mile swim in the Tennessee River with ample spectator vantage points alongside the city’s famous Riverwalk. Athletes can look forward to a fast, down-current swim. The bike will be two loops of a 56-mile course (112 miles) with scenic farmland and mountain views. The two-and-a-half loop, 26.2-mile run course will showcase beautiful downtown Chattanooga, the South Side, Riverview and the North Shore. Overall, expect a fast, rolling course.”
The race was a wonderful opportunity for Chattanooga to welcome athletes from all over and to spotlight our city’s beauty and hospitality.
But even more, this Ironman race was a great source of illustrations for the message I preached Sunday morning! Ha!
4 Rules of Training
In a piece by Roman Mica (for Active.com), I found the “4 Rules of Ironman Training.” They were so simple and enlightening that I determined to use them in my next Sunday sermon dealing with the different races of life.
See if you don’t see a strong correlation between training for a grueling triathlon and the life of a Christian.
Rule 1 – Train Every Day
According to the author, it takes a minimum of 13 hours a week of training to compete in an Ironman. Most of the competitors, already seasoned athletes, will train every day of the week for at least 6 months, if not a year, for just this one race!
How much training do we do for the race of life? How much time do we take to prepare for the up-hill climbs, the varying terrain, and the lonely stretches when few are there to urge us on to victory? Every day we should be working out the truths of God’s Word; swimming in the pool of God’s grace; and strengthening our endurance with the breath of God’s Spirit.
Rule 2 – Don’t Fake It
“There are few things more miserable in life than spending 17 hours on an Ironman course hating every painful swim stroke, bike pedal and running step. Sure, there are amateur athletes who’ve finished without putting in the hard work, but they just spent over $500 on the entry for a day of self-inflicted pain.” – Roman Mica
There are few things more miserable than a Christian trying to be a Christian in his own strength. Don’t fake it! Be real! Let God work through you, give you the grace and strength you need, and help you to enjoy the life you’ve been given.
Rule 3 – Be Disciplined with Nutrition
Roman Mica made it clear that the human body not only needs the proper nutrition to compete at such a high level of performance, but the also the right amounts to be able to withstand prolonged stress.
Sometimes in the Christian walk/run/race of life, there are times when we are forced to run without stopping for a break. It is only through regular, disciplined intake before a trial that we will have the internal resources from which to draw strength. In other words, there will be long stretches when Bible study and prayer will be hard to come by. Store up the nutrition while you can.
Rule 4 – Avoid Injury
One of the sad realities of training for a big race like the Ironman is that injuries do occur. Yes, even before the trials of the river, the bike ride, and the run, athletes get hurt trying to prepare for the competition.
Sadly, while training in what would be considered a safe atmosphere, church people get hurt and wounded all the time. We do it to ourselves and to each other. My advice is to love, live a life of forgiveness and grace, and keep training – the prize it worth it.