When I was asked to blog about my training for obstacle course racing (OCR) and its spiritual parallels, I immediately found myself facing the same initial challenge that I faced in the beginning of my physical training. It is also the same obstacle that many of us have in our spiritual growth: PROCRASTINATION.
A little background on myself, I am not some elite athlete, powerhouse bodybuilder, or fitness guru. I am your average 35 year old man, father of 4, husband of a beautiful wife, and my days are filled with all the busyness that comes along with all of that. About 5 years ago I was diagnosed with a mechanical heart disorder (atrial fibrillation) and was told I needed to exercise on a regular basis in order to keep my heart in the best possible condition. And just like most men would, I mostly ignored the doctor’s advice. Or more accurately I decided to get in better shape…someday.
I watched my grandfather’s health deteriorate quite rapidly over the course of a year and realized that if I did not take action now I would end up in a similar situation in my life. That was an option I could not allow to happen. I had been my own worst enemy in this process, falling victim to that silent killer we all know as procrastination. However, it was time to leave procrastination behind.
Almost immediately after deciding to take action, I saw some Facebook post about the Spartan Race and started looking into it. I swore to myself that I would run the Sprint, Super, and Beast. I have now completed two Trifectas, but only after conquering my natural desire to procrastinate. Here’s how.
Ask, “What Am I Waiting For?”
We can apply this question to spiritual matters like baptism to physical tasks like annual health screenings. The key to answering the question lies in honesty and eliminating excuses. I had used all your standard excuses regarding my health including (1) it costs too much to get a gym membership or buy special equipment, and (2) I just don’t have enough time. Instead of continuing to procrastinate while hiding behind theses excuses, I decided to search for a solution
Consider the Cost
The cost was by far the easier of the two problems to address. I had some experience in this with my military background. We did tons of different exercises every morning which never required any special equipment: push-ups, sit-ups, supine bicycle, etc. What I really needed was some sort of plan.
A simple Google search provided the guidance I needed. I found an exercise regime that was generic:
Mon – Strength training
Tues – Hill training
Wed – Rest
Thurs – Sprints
Fri – Strength training
Sat – Endurance run
Sun – Rest
This gave me my basis to expand upon and left it up to me what each one of those workouts meant. I dedicated Monday to chest, shoulders, back, and core and Friday to biceps, triceps, and core again and did another Google search to find exercises for each. What do you know? There was a ton of exercises that work with body weight only resistance. Plus I filled 2 old milk jugs with water, adding 8-16 lbs. resistance for no cost. Since the runs are free I know had my workout structured at a final cost of $0. A pretty good value if I do say so myself.
While I was able to eliminate the costs of my physical training, the cost of Christian discipleship was clearly set forth by Jesus (Luke 9:23); we have to be all in. Jesus didn’t say, “Take up your cross tomorrow if you don’t feel up to it today.” We are called to take up that cross daily, no room for procrastination. And considering the final result is our eternal salvation I would say the cost is nothing since the true cost was paid by Jesus through his death on the cross. Our cost evaluations should never lose sight of the reward we have been granted.
“OK, but I still don’t have time to…” fill in the blank. I now realize how funny this excuse is. “I don’t have enough time” really translates into “I want to spend that time on other activities.” Sure, we have responsibilities to tend to, but we have to keep perspective (Luke 9:59-62). Waiting for a more opportune time may prove costly (Acts 24:25).
Once I committed to doing the workouts, I realized that all of them (with the exception of the endurance run after I progressed) took about 20-30 minutes and another 10-15 to shower and get cleaned up. So at max I only needed to carve out 45 minutes of each day to add potentially dozens of years to my life. Not a bad trade off in the grand scheme of things.
I prefer the coolness of the mornings so all I needed to do was set the alarm for 15 minutes earlier and not utilize the snooze function. Boom, problem solved. But not quite. I had to fight myself to abandon my snooze techniques and found myself tired and sometimes unwilling. Another simple solution arose, stop staying up till midnight each night and opt for 11 PM instead.
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” –Hebrews 12:11
Don’t think that I have won the battle against procrastination completely. I put off writing this blog for at least a month. I skip at least 1 workout every other week. But I did confront the biggest and most difficult challenge: getting started. Take heart in knowing that once you begin, the end result is that much closer.