- The Unalienable Rule. We hold these truths to be self-evident that NOT all runners are created equal. We have the right to life, liberty & the pursuit of PRs, but we all do not possess the same physical abilities. So, inasmuch as we measure running by time, distance, calories, & other metrics, we must remember that we are not all created equal. Noncomparison is the first rule of happy, lifelong running.
- The Failure Rule. Failure to plan is a plan to fail. Have a training plan. Your plan may be determined by your personal fitness goals or preparing you for your next race. Have some variety & purpose to keep it fresh. This rule has a negative sounding name to remind you of its positive value.
- The Elephant Rule. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, states the cliche. Consistency is key for running success. If you are going to run a marathon for instance, then you need six months to a full year's training. You need a plan. Rule #2. Followed day after day, one bite at a time, to be properly prepared for the distance. Africans don't like to eat elephant. This is just a catchy phrase to remind us that consistent effort accomplishes much.
- The Nike Rule. Just do it! It rings true, that is why it's one of the greatest marketing slogans of all time. If you have the miles planned, the time, permissible weather, & no illness or injury preventing you from running, then just do it! If you make an excuse now, then you can make one later or some other aspect of life will crowd in. Rule #4 is the will behind Rule #3.
- The Mailman Rule. Don't be a sissy! Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet nor gloom of night get out there & run. The more challenging, the better. Running against the elements & proving yourself versus nature is one of the joys of running. Get out there with the right gear, however. Be sure to refer to Rule #7.
- The Hamster Rule. If you must, then get on the mill. Some folks like treadmills. Climate controlled, predictable, TV. Don't take my last rule with too much machismo--sometimes it's just smart to stay indoors. Just in case you need examples: ice; thunderstorms; temps or windchills below zero; tornadoes; hurricanes; etc.
- The Paine Rule. As in Thomas Paine, the author of Common Sense. If in doubt, use your common sense. Something hurts? Your body is telling you there is a problem! Slow down or stop. Ask for advice or assistance. Icy surfaces? Take care. A little fall could cost you a lot of running & cash too. Head-cold?As long as your congestion is from the neck-up you can run. Double-pneumonia? Don't even think about it!
- The .92 Rule. Yes, you read that right. It's 92/100th. It's less than one. But it is a BIG one to obey. In short it can be interpreted as: know where you are going; follow the map; don't follow the guy in front of you; don't get lost. Benefit from my experience & have a laugh too.
- The Shrink Rule. Sweat equals sanity. There may never be a need for a psychiatrist or counselor in the life of a runner as long as we can get out & run. We are creatures of habit & familiarity of the miles provides a sanctuary to process life with no shrink or couch needed.
- The 12:11 Rule. Avowed nonrunners like to point out that runners don't look too comfortable while running. This is true, but you also hear us gush in runese & refer to Runner's World as if it were the Bible. Hebrews 12:11 of THE Bible states, "At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it is the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God." Running takes discipline, but it pays off.
- The Together Rule. Some of us like the solitude & others like a group, but I'd encourage every runner to run with others from time to time. Just remember Rule #1, slow down or speed up as needed, & have fun along the way. Running together has lots of great benefits. Encouragement, learning, companionship, & accountability are just a few. We are better together.
- The Right Shoe Rule. If you are a beginning runner, then this may be THE most important rule to follow. Running is a pounding. The wrong shoes lead to injuries. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to your nearest running specialty store (NOT a big box sporting goods store, but the real professionals.) Buy the shoes they recommend for you. It's not about brand, color, or price; it's only about the right shoe.
Have you ever reached the end of your rope? Strength gone.
Have you had it with another person? Chances exhausted.
Have your dreams fallen apart? Wreckage complete.
Have you ever failed greatly? Fixes unworkable.
Have you lost hope? Disappointment much.
Have you said, "I'm Done"? Just Done.
Let me offer a thought as a fellow traveler who has been to Done before: It's okay. Stop. Pray. Invite God in. Ask for some strength. Some rest. Some patience. Some wisdom. Some hope. Some whatever you need.
Done is okay. For a moment or a day.
Done is okay.
"God is attracted to weakness. He can't resit those who humbly & honestly admit how desperately they need him. Our weakness, in fact, makes room for his power," writes Jim Cymbala.
I don't know about the rest of you who like to drive your own lives, but when I get to Done I get desperate. And desperate. When it humbles me. When I sober up to the reality of my much limited humanness. When I honestly admit my infinite weakness. When I recognize that my map was wrong. When I turn to Sovereign God. That is not a bad thing. He can do great, immeasurable, unsearchable, abundant things.
God will meet you at Done.
Hand Him the keys.
He will take it from there.
September 9, 1992 I landed in Johannesburg with my sleepy eyes wide open. A Journeyman Missionary. For the next two years. In Soweto. Twenty-plus formal & informal settlements that made up the SOutherWEstern TOwnships of apartheid-era South Africa. Over one million Africans. Add this one Texan.