“But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

Intense workouts 

Working hard on a regular basis to improve overall performance
Same old same old = same old or less
Running is a great way both to get into and to stay in shape. The temptation that many people face in any fitness program is to work to achieve a peak performance and then try to maintain it with the same program that they have been using. Runners easily get into routines that become difficult to break and that can lead to the lack of improvement or even to deterioration. This is true even for those who are good about including core fitness (see last month’s column).

After a while, we reach a certain level of fitness and the daily jog doesn’t help move us beyond that point. Often, when a runner gets to this point, he begins to lose interest in running. His times remain steady or may even fall a bit. Adding more miles at this point often just serves to make the runner more fatigued and possibly more disconcerted with his results. Basically, our bodies and minds have become accustomed to our new running routine and are responding as best as they can. To achieve greater benefits, the smart runner adds one day of a more intense kind of running. Initially, this may be difficult to do, but once the runner feels the results, he starts to look forward to that one day a week of putting it all out there. It makes the longer runs seem like a break and a time of relaxation. It ultimately either maintains that high level of fitness achieved, or for some, increases the ability to compete competitively.

The key to this type of workout is to make it consist of a shortened form of the goal, but to raise the intensity. In other words, it’s not something entirely different from running; it is running done with the intensity of competition but for a shorter period of time. My cross country team runs 3.1 miles in a race, yet one day a week during the season, the team runs a series of 1/2 mile distances at a pace just faster than their goal race pace.

In ministry, it is easy to fall into a routine. In fact, if the programs you set up are well received, people don’t want things changed around too often. The concept of intense workouts can help you keep from getting stale in these situations. It could possibly help you to improve your effectiveness in these expected routine programs. It may not be exactly the same as running 1/2 mile repeats, but try breaking down some aspect of one of these routine tasks and really spending effort on it. This might include getting some extra training in something you already feel competent at doing, or it may be that you could benefit by just spending some intense time in planning how to perform the task at a higher level. The point is to challenge yourself to excel at a basic aspect of your ministry, it will improve your stride overall and make the run more enjoyable along the way.