Running With Weights

When getting ready to run a 5k last fall, I saw a man wearing a weighted vest at the start line. I’m assuming he wore it for the entire race, but I can’t say for sure as my view from the back of the pack did not include keeping track of this particular individual.

Supposedly, running with weights can improve running time and increase endurance. Wearing weights while running should also burn more calories without having to increase distance or speed. For those of us who already struggle to complete a run of 5k (3.1 miles) or more, the idea of running with added weight seems, well, simply crazy.

In fact, in all of the races I have run during my 25 years of being a runner, this is the first person I’ve noticed wearing extra weights during a race. Most of the runners, especially the really good runners, the ones who run to compete, run with very little on their body. In fact, the front-runner almost always has the bare minimum allowable based on the weather.

1-25-13 run

As I stood waiting to run this 5k last fall and watching this weighted man who seemed quite eager to begin, I couldn’t help but think of Hebrews 12:1-2.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

In our physical lives, the idea of running with added weight seems foolish to most people. In our spiritual lives, however, most of us carry extra weight that prevents us from running the best race possible even though doing so is not only foolish but can prevent us from a strong finish.

In Kick Off the High Heals, Day Two of Week 10 in God is My Refuge, Kathy Howard expresses this issue by saying:

“Like the heroes of faith who have gone before, let us rid our lives of anything that keeps us from complete obedience to Christ. Maybe a sinful habit or unhealthy relationship prevents us from fully submitting to our Savior. Perhaps pride or selfishness keeps us hanging on to our own will and way.”

The weights I commonly carry as I run “the race marked out” for me include comparisons, fear and pride. And really, those weights show my failure (sin) to believe that Jesus is enough. It’s my failure to believe that He created me for a specific purpose, and that He will make that purpose come to fruition. It’s fear over my kids not following God instead of my having faith to believe God for their security. And it’s my pride that keeps me from asking for help and from admitting my dependence on Him.

But that’s just me. Perhaps the weights that entangle you are quite different from mine.

Looking further into this scripture, Hebrews 12:2 tells us where to focus after we’ve cast off those weights that trip us up, a focus that allows us to endure the race of our lives.

“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.”

What does a focus on Jesus do for our ability to run with endurance? Kathy Howard puts it this way:

“Let’s turn our full attention to Christ and consider what He endured for us. His example will help us throw off any sin that entangles us and run freely toward the finish line.”

Just like any runner wanting to improve her speed or endurance or any other aspect of her running will look to the experts who have successfully gone before her, so too must we look to Jesus as we seek to improve how we run this race of life.

DISCUSSION: What sinful attitudes or selfish motivations or activities hold us back from following Christ in complete obedience?

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24 thoughts on “Running With Weights

  1. I know the things that weigh me down are pretty much the same things all the time. The problem is that I have become more accepting of them instead of working to try to rid myself of those weights that so easily attach themselves to me.

    • We do get comfortable with weights, don't we? I have some of those too. Being comfortable with being uncomfortable would be helpful in not constantly having weights holding me back, I think.

  2. thanks Kari. I agree with you and Kathy and had not thought about it in this way. God sure is using you and others as I apply my listening with open heart and mind to what He has to say and am thankful He LISTENS to me when I come to Him asking for help in the areas that need work. This was a VBS theme verse several years ago!

    • Once God knows we are truly willing to be obedient in an area and that we are truly listening to Him, He opens up wisdom in that area. I sure have noticed that in my own life.

  3. I think it would be awesome to wear a weighted vest in a race. You'd look buff. As long as you actually finish the race well and don't quit halfway through.
    The thing about the weights that Paul speaks of is that they're not necessarily sin. We are supposed to get rid of sin, but also just anything that could be a hindrance. That may be things that some others have no problem with. It just shows the dedication that Paul had and that we must have in our race.

    • Hey, you go for it Loren! I have always struggled running, which is one reason I keep doing it, so there's no way I'm adding any weights. You're right in that the weight isn't always sin. It's anything that keeps us from being obedient to God. One reason comparisons are so dangerous is that we think our races need to look like someone else's. The think is, all runners look very different from one another. Attend any race and that is obvious. We all run differently, have different times and different training methods. What works for one person to eat doesn't for another, etc. We have to run our own race and focus on getting rid of our weights, which may not be a weight for someone else. Great point!

  4. The fear of feeling burdens causes us to want to be free, but as God places trials and tests in our life, He does so to make our faith stronger. That is where wearing added weights fits this analogy. When we practice with weights our body gets stronger so that when we run the race before us without the weights we can excel. God points you made…

    • God placing or allowing vs. us putting on unecessary weights. That's the key, right? Weight makes us stronger, for sure, but we have to be in the right shape for them. And some days we can handle them, some not. Some days I can run well, some not. Good thoughts to add to the depth of the discussion, Coach. Definitely amplified it for me!

  5. We must be willing to increase the resistance or weight to build our endurance for the race we have to run in life. Obstacles are just God appointed opportunities to increase our ability to rise up higher and step more boldly. For some people fear has kept them trying to avoid the added burdens and challenges and they cannot keep up or often handle what happens to them in life. Guess, the adage: No pain, no gain does have some value especially in ministry. = ]

    • Well said, Coach! One reason I run is because it's a very difficult challenge and makes me stronger mentally and physically. I would not be who I am today had I not been a runner. That translates so well into trials that have made me spiritually stronger. Pain seems essential for growth sometimes.

  6. I really like your word picture, Kari. I can usually tell if I have a weight holding me back because I just don't want to do whatever it is God wants me to do. Sometimes it takes some exploring to even figure out what the weight is. I'm thankful for His Word which is a light to my way and reveals my hidden sins and also the non-sins that hold me back. I'm so excited to throw off those weights and grow so it will be easier to run the race with my eyes on Jesus!

    • While feelings often lead us astray, they certainly can alert us to needed change such as shedding of unecessary weight. We NEED His Word to know what direction to take when our feelings give us information.

      • Kari, I just started reading Quiet and I'm loving it. If I remember right, that was your recommendation. I did the little quiz and I was exactly half introvert and half extrovert. Anyway, it's very interesting! I'm glad you recommended it!

        • I don't recall the book off the top of my head, but I have read a lot of personality style related books. Understanding our bents can be extremely helpful. At least, it has been for me. It has really helped me become more effective in ministry as well as to focus on areas of weakness. Glad you are enjoying the book!

          • The tag line is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. Very fascinating about our culture which lifts up extroverts.

          • I am not certain I've actually read that. Might have been on my "to read" list at some point though. Our culture definitely lifts up extroverts. Just talked to someone at church this morning about how I felt sort of outnumbered by the extroverts. I have many times heard "you just need to be more outgoing." This is a topic I want to explore further, but I get little reception from my extroverted friends (which are most of the people I know, actually).

          • I guess I must have read about it somewhere else. It talks about the current personality culture vs the old character culture. Am only a short ways into it, but it's interesting. Talks about the social pressure to be "outgoing." I do think we need to go out of our comfort zone to love others well – but that doesn't mean we have to push ourselves into the "outgoing" extrovert mode. Both extroverts and introverts have weaknesses when it comes to loving! (And I have a double whammy since I'm both!)

          • Sounds very interesting to me. For sure, each tendency has strengths and weaknesses, and we all need to adapt, change & grow. We can get outside of our comfort zones and still be who we are too. I think people think they have to change who they are sometimes. Perhaps being "both" means you are more balanced than the rest of us 🙂

          • Haha, I don't think so. Both strengths – but also both faults! I have to fight the tendency to change to be "acceptable" and work instead on changing whatever God wants me to change.

          • I am amazed at how focusing on who He created me to be sort of leads to a place where changes happen as a natural result. Focusing on Him and glorifying Him and making myself secondary has truly changed me for the better. God is so good!

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