Welcome to Day 14 of our Devoted New Year series! It’s the final day of our two week series and we hope you have enjoyed it! Today we are talking about longevity in running! These posts are brought to you by Meridith creator of Devoted Training; a 52 week faith-based training journal, and myself.

For most of us, running is a lifelong passion, and we plan to run until we are the only ones winning our age group. Achieving this kind of longevity requires both a different kind of mindset, as well as training practice.

There will be all different seasons on this journey—new relationships, babies, jobs, and just the act of aging. In order to be our best selves through each season, we have to decide to take the actions that lead us to our better selves, strengthening our hearts and our bodies along the way.

In Let Your Mind Run, Deena Kastor says, “I thought about how every decision that follows builds and expands and accumulates. And yet it comes back to the microdecisions we make at any given moment, when we can go in one direction or the other. How on some days, […], the positive path is harder to find and we have to be relentless in its pursuit. But a better outlook is always there and worth chasing. On the other side are potential and possibility.” Some days it may seem like progress is slow, but each decision you make leads to the other side of potential and possibility.

Examples of decisions that can lead to longevity are often the same as injury prevention measures. Cross train to supplement running volume and help recover. Adopt a regular strength routine to strengthen bones and ligaments (and make you faster in the process). Work on mobility exercises to increase range of motion. Take rest days when needed, and take seasons off if that is what your body or life situation require. When not in an off season, remember that consistency is key, so even if you can only get in a couple of miles on most days, that is better than trying to make up volume on the weekends.

It’s about more than just physically maintaining the body for running though. The right mindset is also necessary to stay in the sport and enjoy it for a lifetime. A great way to stay engaged with training and racing is to plug in with a running community.

In Peak Performance, Magness and Stulberg talk about the merits of social recovery, wherein studies show that athletes who talk about their post-workout analysis with their team actually performed better in competition the next week. Most of us don’t need much convincing to chat about running with our friends (and anyone else who will listen—ha!), but if ever you needed a reason, this is it. Making running a social endeavor is a great way to both improve performance from training cycle to training cycle, but also for long term success and encouragement. View your running buddies as part of your team, and when one member has a success, the whole team wins.

When we work hard to reach our potential, running is a celebration of God’s creation.  As it says in Ephesians 2:10 and Zephaniah 3:17, “We are His workmanship” and “He rejoices over you with gladness; he quiets you by his love; he exults over you with loud singing.” Our identities are not a product of our performance, and it is powerful when we understand our purpose and start living with the confidence that we have the Creator of the universe on our side. With this long term view, we can always rest in our Father to give us a peace and a renewed spirit to perform our best and to worship Jesus through our legs.

Training our bodies for peak shape is important for performance, but the heart and the head can continue to get stronger long after our bodies have started to decline.  There is no better way to stay mentally sharp than to have our confidence in God rather than in our own efforts. And this approach makes every training run and race more rewarding when we know that we are doing it for God’s glory. Our joy is deeper than results. It comes from the knowledge that we are loved enough to be given the gift of running and the passion to pursue goals.     

With hearts full of gratitude for this running community, we wish you the best year of running yet, as well as a lifelong joy in the sport.

Do you think you will always love running with the same passion that you have now?

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