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The Runner’s Guide to Life

If you have ever run in a 5K, race officials usually offer one of two options: a walk thru to see the course or provide a map that highlights the route of the path you are going to take.  Without one or the other, there is always a chance of getting lost along the way.  Therefore, if you don’t know which way to go, you either have to catch up to the participants in front of you or slow down to follow runners who pass you.

I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding. – Psalm 119:32

This same principle applies to life.  When you hit a fork in the road, decisions have to be made regardless of whether you are sure or uncertain.  According to the Psalmist, those who remain teachable throughout life will stay on track until the finish, Psalm 119:33.  On the other hand, individuals who lean on their own understanding often end up on the wrong course, Matthew 7:13.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us – Hebrews 12:1.

During his years as a shepherd, David learned the importance of good footing, Psalm 18:36, achieved by trusting in God.  The apostle Paul takes this one step further, relying on the Holy Spirit to guide his steps, Galatians 5:25.  While visiting the avid sports town of Corinth, the apostle Paul began to understand that mindset necessary to become a successful runner, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.  Whether you choose to support a local 5K as a runner or walker, make sure you are seeking after a crown that will last forever to ensure the runner’s guide to life.

by Jay Mankus


The Running Experience


From the fall of 1983 through the spring of 1993, I logged several thousand miles training for the cross country season, competing in dual meets, running in large invitationals and staying in shape through road races.  My initial experience began as a I ran from cars I threw snow balls at, fleeing the scene of houses I just toilet papered and sprinting from the authorities trying to access road signs for our high school display case.  In elementary school, Physical Fitness Week introduced me to the 50 yard dash, the 3rd fastest in my grade at Harlan Elementary, in inner city Wilmington.  During my 2 years at Hanby Junior High, gym classes forced students to run a timed mile and 2 mile once a year on our school’s track.  By the end of 8th grade, I ran a 6:20 mile and just broke 13 minutes for 2 miles.

However, there is so much more to the running experience than meets the eye.  First, running is a way you can channel your energy.  Like Bo Jackson in the ESPN 30 for 30 Presentation entitled, “You Don’t Know Bo, each of us used sports as a vessel to express ourselves to overcome stuttering.  In college, I would frequently take study breaks by running 3 miles to clear my mind from all the stress and worries of life.  Afterward, I was awake, fresh and ready to tarry on until my work was complete.

Running is also a spiritual encounter, a time you can use listening to God.  While running with a Sony Walkman in one hand, God’s voice always seemed clearer when I ran consistently for a decade.  Maybe this is why the apostle Paul uses so many metaphors in correlation with running in the Bible.  Hebrews 12:1-3 illustrates why people should run and 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 details how we should run.  Some of the most intimate times I have ever had with God have been running alone at night, getting in touch with myself and communing with the Holy Spirit.

Finally, running teaches you the values of dedication, hard work and perseverance, 1 Timothy 4:8.  Running isn’t easy nor is it a natural desire for most people.  Although, once you stick with it for a few years, you cross a threshold which actually brings joy to your life each time you run.  I stopped running for good in 1996, when stray dogs from our neighbor constantly chased me for miles.  Since I had nothing to aim or shoot for, a lack of cartilage in both my knees made my decision easy.  Today, I am semi-retired from running, only training with my 2 boys during the summer to prepare them for their cross country season.  Yet, I still practice Paul’s mental challenge in 1 Corinthians 9:27 as I continue my running experience with Christ.

by Jay Mankus

Personal Records

4:52 mile at Brandywine Creek State Park

10:20 2 mile also at Brandywine during the same cross country race

16:30 3 mile in the foothills north of Baltimore Maryland

16:53 5K (3.1 miles) at Delcastle Recreation Center

29:52 5 miles at Bellevue State Park as a 10th grader before my ankle surgery

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