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Summary: By finishing my marathon, I won a prize. The prize I won was a medal place around my neck. This prize is temporary and will not last for eternity. For the Christian, there is a prize awaiting them when they cross the finish line of life. It’s a perman

Spiritual Lessons Learned Running My First Marathon

By Greg Johnson

November 12, 2006


1 Corinthians 9:24-27

On Sunday, November 5, 2006, I finished my first marathon – The 3rd Annual Marshall University Marathon in Huntington, West Virginia. In training and running the marathon, I learned some spiritual lessons that I want to share.

Throughout my 16 weeks of rigid training, I was constantly reminded of what the Apostle Paul said to the church at Corinth. He said (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NIV) "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. {25} Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. {26} Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. {27} No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

In this passage, the Apostle Paul is not talking about salvation. In Ephesians 2:8-9, he clearly states that salvation is by the grace of God and not by the works of the individual. Here he is talking to the church at Corinth about Christian service; serving God and others. God’s Word clearly shows us that a person is not saved by serving God and others. No, a person will serve God and others because they are saved. Please know that the Apostle Paul here is not afraid of losing his salvation. He is afraid of losing his reward for faithful and sacrificial service to God and to others.

By finishing my marathon, I won a prize. The prize I won was a medal place around my neck. This prize is temporary and will not last for eternity. For the Christian, there is a prize awaiting them when they cross the finish line of life. It’s a permanent prize that will last for eternity. It is based on their Christian service; their service to God and others here on earth. Each of us is running this marathon called life. Successful completion to receive an eternal reward is dependent on proper training, nutrition and self discipline.


I’ve been running for 18 months. When I first started, I was so out of shape that I could not run one mile without stopping several times. Day by day I kept putting one foot in front of the other and before long I could do a mile without stopping. I built on that until I could run three miles without stopping. Than I was able to run 5 miles, 7 miles and 9 miles without stopping. I got to where I could run 10 miles without stopping and I started training for my first marathon. Over 16 weeks I gradually built up my mileage and completed long runs of 16 miles, 18 miles and 20 miles. The last three weeks of my training, I tapered off my mileage to give my body time to heal prior to doing the 26.2 miles the day of the marathon. What was I trying to accomplish with this training? I was building up my endurance and my body was gradually adapting. I was training my body for the long haul.

Not only did I have to train my body for endurance, but I also had to fuel my body properly. I had to change the way I ate so that my muscles would heal and rebound between runs and also store energy before runs so that they would function properly and not cramp. This meant decreasing fatty foods, increasing complex carbohydrates and drinking lots of water. I started eating less red meat and junk food and more vitamin rich, high fiber vegetables, fruits and grains.

My body went through withdraws. You see, I was addicted to an unhealthy lifestyle of fatty foods and little or no exercise. My body went into a state of shock and continually tried to go back to living the easy life of eating anything it wanted and minimizing movement. To break out of this took self discipline. I had to make a choice. Am I going to let my body control me or am I going to control my body. I disciplined myself and brought my body under subjection. I had to do this daily until my body started liking the new way better than the old way.

Beloved, success on our Christian walk will take proper training, nutrition and self-discipline. Our training partner is Jesus Christ. We follow Him on our journey. We minister as He ministered. We fulfill the Great Commandment that He gives us in loving God and people (Matthew 22:36-39). We faithfully serve Him and others.

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