In May of 2016 I began a journey that I never would have guessed would lead me to where I am today. I just logged 280 days in a row of running at least 3.1 miles every day (also known as a 5k). It started in May and it just never stopped.
This morning I ran 20 miles in 2 hours, 37 minutes, and 6 seconds. That is an average pace of 7:50 per mile. I felt pretty good for most of the run, and never really fell apart, which was good. In fact, my slowest mile was mile #1.
I feel blessed to have a great group of guys to run with on a pretty consistent basis. My schedule and traveling can be a bit crazy at times, so I don’t always have a group or partner to run with. In January I logged my daily 5k in Ohio, Georgia, Washington, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina. It has been crazy, but good.
When people find out that I run at least a 5k every day, they usually ask if I am crazy or dumb.
Yes to both.
Other, more inquisitive individuals, have asked me a variation of two slightly deeper questions:
- How long do I plan to keep it going?
- Why am I doing it?
As for how long, I plan to finish a full year of running at least a 5k every day… and then do another “5k Every Day in the Month of May” (feel free to join me!) After May I do not plan to run every day. I actually don’t think it is a wise idea to run at least a 5k every day. I think I will become a much stronger runner when I am strategically and intentionally taking rest days. I believe that God actually has something important to say about rest days and I should have listened to Him. He’s really smart.
As for why I am doing it, well that answer is a little more complex.
I actually planned to do a “5k Every Day in the Month of May” in 2015, but a physical injury kept me from being able. Ever since missing out in 2015, I was looking forward to doing it in 2016.
Then, in the middle of May, my life was kind of flipped around and turned upside down. Unexplainable craziness broke out at the church where I was serving as Youth Pastor and Music Director. This craziness only got worse and kept spinning out of control for several months.
My daily run became a place of peace and calm in the midst of a storm. It was a good stress reliever and a great opportunity to run with Jesus -praying every step of the way.
“5k Every Day in the Month of May” was good for me physically, but it was even better for me spiritually. So I kept going. I committed myself to a full year.
At first, I was journaling my thoughts along the way, and that was good for me (and I have heard from many others that it was good for them, as well). But as things became more and more crazy at the church, I had to stop blogging about spiritual things. I had to delete certain blog entries and stop writing new ones, at the request of the church leaders.
At that point the blog became mostly about my run.
Not overly interesting.
So I mostly stopped blogging altogether.
In late August my life was further turned upside-down. I was asked to step down from my position at the church where I had served faithfully and fruitfully for nearly a decade. This request was unreasonable to me, but it seemed best for me to step down quietly rather than attempt to stay where the leadership team had made it abundantly clear that they did not want me.
By now my daily run had become a crucial part of my ongoing sanity. God met me on my run every day and continued to whisper in a still, small voice, “Just keep taking the next step.”
God is good!
Over the course of the next couple of months, my wife and I began to discern the voice of the Lord calling us into full time missionary service with the Jeff Polen Music ministry. We see ourselves as “musicianaries”. More information about the four areas of ministry for JPM can be found at www.jeffpolenmusic.com.
In order to fulfill our calling, we needed to raise our own support. We set a brash goal of reaching 100% of our funding for the year within 100 days (take the hill!). We called this season of our lives, “Extreme Support Raising.” This became my full-time “job” for 3 months.
Fortunately, we had a severance package with the church that kept my salary going through the end of the year (as long as I didn’t say anything that could be construed as negative towards the church).
Around this same time, my brother asked me to be a part of the Whistling Pines 112 mile relay race. Six of us ran three hard 10k trail runs to complete 112 total miles. It sounds crazy, but it is hard to explain how helpful this race was to me.
When I went out for my first 10k, I felt like, “Well, this is hard, but I can do it.” Those feelings quickly turned into, “What in the world was I thinking?!”
When I went out for my second 10k, I didn’t think that I physically had it in me to finish -let alone run another. “I can’t do this, Lord.” I literally spoke those words out loud as I was trudging through the woods, attempting my second 10k. Then, clear as the day, I heard the Lord whisper to my heart, “Just keep taking the next step. And then the next step. You’ll get there.”
So that’s what I did.
When I went out for my third 10k, I experienced the joy of the Lord as we ran together. I knew that He was with me, and I knew that He would get me through.
He did. We won. I survived. (I actually kind of thrived.)
After the Whistling Pines 112, I felt that the Lord was speaking to me again, saying, “Just like you did in this race, you will get to your support raising goal. Just keep taking the next step. And then the next step. You’ll get there.”
It felt like a mountain, but we got there!
We reached our goal of 100% support in 100 days!
God is good!
So many amazing people have rallied around us and joined our ministry team by making a monthly or annual contribution. (If you would like information about joining our team, feel free to contact me.)
I am so excited about what 2017 will bring. It feels like God is on the move and we are blessed to be a part of it.
So… I just keep taking the next step. And then the next step. Today it was 20 miles worth of steps. Tomorrow, probably not.
Along the way I am getting to hang out with some great guys, growing stronger physically, growing stronger spiritually, and growing deeper in my relationship with God.
What a journey!