Trust The Training

Ironman Syracuse

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” –2 Corinthians 4:16-18

“Taste and See that the Lord is good, Blessed is the man who trusts in him” -Psalm 34:8

Last year I decided to embark on a new fitness journey. Noticing some holiday weight gain, I desperately needed a New Years resolution to get back in shape. I started researching the Ironman Triathlons. The YouTube videos were incredibly inspiring, and the thought of competing in a race really excited me. Up until that point, I never swam any distance in open water, and I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was 12 years old.. Despite these small challenges, I still decided to sign up for a Half Ironman Training Program. For those who don’t know what that is, its a race where you swim 1.2 miles, Bike 56 Miles and then run 13.1 miles. Piece of cake! Or so I thought…

At our first meeting, all participants were asked the question if they ever completed a Triathlon before. To my surprise, I was one of the only people in the group of 30 who never did this kind of a race. Since this triathlon was traditionally longer in distance everyone at meeting had some prior experience. Before the session was over we all performed a standard swim test. The coach wanted to study everyone’s technique to determine how much help each individual needed. Using a special underwater digital video camera, he recorded each person swimming from one end of the pool to the other. After seeing my incredible skills, he called me aside and told me I needed a lot of work. For the next two months of swim training, I was separated from the rest of the group and placed in a “Special Lane.” Twice a week I would come to practice and swim with kickboards and buoy floatation devices. I was very embarrassed and wanted to quit. I said to myself, “I can’t believe I am paying all this money, and I’m still not swimming on my own!” What originally started out as something very exciting turned out to be a real struggle, because it seemed like I was never improving.

To make matters worse, riding a bike was much harder than I remembered too. My back constantly hurt because I am not accustomed to being hunched over for long periods of time. As the weather got warmer, the team went on longer bike rides. Everyone in the group got to go on adventures over the George Washington Bridge; however because I was a beginner, my coach made me and a few others do endless laps in Central Park. We circled that freaking park a million times. It became so boring and seemed like forever before we got to go on the longer rides…

The running portion, which I thought would be my strongest of the three, was just as discouraging. The coach would have us do running drills called “Hill Repeats.” On Thursday nights, we would find the biggest hill and repeatedly run up and down it for an hour. Many nights I wanted to die and even asked God on a few occasions to take my life…

Because of all the challenges in the training I started to get very nervous as the race drew closer. I began feeling like I wouldn’t even be able to finish the race. The event had an official cut-off time, and I started hyperventilating just thinking about failing. One day I asked my coach for advice, and he simply stated, “Gino you’re going to be fine, just TRUST THE TRAINING.” Before I could give him all the reasons why the training didn’t make sense, he quickly cut me off and stated, “Just Trust the Training” as he walked away…

He was right, and everything I had trained for soon paid off. I did better than I had imagined, and it was an incredible experience. The race was the most challenging event I ever completed; but also the most rewarding. All those swimming, biking and running exercises started to make sense. I can now look back and say with confidence that they prepared me for the 70-mile journey. Being a part of that training team added tremendous value to the overall experience. I made many friends and was encouraged by the support of the team and coach.

Our lives are a lot like my triathlon experience. They are exciting to dream about; however they come with many challenges that are constantly changing. These changes are often unexpected and difficult to train for. One moment you’re struggling to stay above water, and then you’re flying down a mountain at 50 MPH, only then to start running back up a hill that seems like it was created by the Devil himself. Once dissappointment sets in, the fear of failure can prevent us from even trying. These lies make us believe that we don’t have what it takes to cross the finish line. Our faith is put to the ultimate test as we navigate through tough relationships, careers, health and finding the path that God wants us to choose.

When we feel like giving up, we need to remember that the Holy Spirit is our coach, and the best thing we can do is “trust his training“. The trials in life are only for a moment, but the glory of our Creator far outweighs it all! The scripture states in Psalms, “Taste and See that the Lord is good, Blessed is the man who trusts in him.” Blessing will come to those who are willing to take the risks, and trust his plan through the triathlons of life. There will come moments when you feel like you can’t take anymore, and quitting will seem like the only option. During these times of uncertainty, we need to be reminded to speak faith by applying God’s word into the equation. He is developing our spiritual endurance and redirecting our paths to accomplish greater things. The Bible promises that his Spirit can renew us day by day and that his mercy and goodness are brand new every morning. I encourage you to Taste and See by incorporating God’s training plan into your routine. What do you have to lose? Don’t give up hope or allow some dissappointments to crush your dream. God is the one responsible for placing some of those outrageously impossible ideas in your heart in the first place. Stretch your faith by trying out something new and exciting. Dare to believe that your best days are still yet to come.

What are you passionately pursuing, and who is coaching you to get there? If we are not incorporating Jesus, and others into our plans, this is a good time to start asking ourselves some important questions. The Bible says the most honorable things we can do on earth are to love God and love people. So take some time this morning to ask your coach to reveal his plan and purpose for your life. Physical exercise and personal goals are awesome, and while I hope to continue to challenge myself in these areas, they fall short in comparison to the plans Jesus has for us. Living a life dedicated to seeing others changed for the glory of God is truly worth the sacrifice. Don’t give up on yourself. Keep moving forward as you encourage your new teammates along the way. You’re closer than you think… Trust the training!