I have noticed that I run better if someone is with me. I have noticed that I perform my best time in races. I remember one race where I was running in the second position, but the guy ahead of me was visibly slowing down. He must have been around 500 meters ahead of me, but I closed the gap quickly and overtook him. Then, something changed, and he started running with me. I picked up my speed, and so did he. We ended up sprinting the last 2 kilometers, and in the end, he beat me.
Last weekend I ran 22k with Chetan. It felt so much easier than I thought it would be. Why is that? Why is it so much easier to get out of bed when you know someone will wait for you if you don’t?
It is a kind of magic. It is as if two together pull strength from each other. I noted this phenomenon and started passing people very quickly so that they do not have time for the magic to happen. And I do not think it is merely the fear of losing that kicks in or a sense of competition. That may be part of it, but it is not all there is.
I can only guess. Maybe it is that
- the company distracts you from the pain or boredom
- or you want to impress the other person
- or you feel fortified by the perceived bond between the two of you
- or there is some magic that makes the group more than the sum of its parts
Whatever it is, it is real.
Now, I have noticed the same thing in life as in running. When we are alone, it is sometimes hard to do the right thing. Something done with a partner seems more meaningful. It is in conversation with a buddy that most great ideas originate. We all need a friend to “run” with.
For various reasons, many of us end up alone. You may be on a crowded street feeling all alone. You may be with your loved one, but feeling misunderstood and terribly alone. That is where secret sins start so often. Drinking too much, watching pornography, having an affair. Everything trying to dampen the pain of being alone.
And ultimately every person is alone.
But I think that when God created us, it was for the reason of having friendship with us. It is not that He needs us. But we need Him. If you read the Bible, you see a God who revealed himself to the people He created and always wanted them to trust in Him. If only they would trust Him, trust his love for them, He would take care of them, and they would enjoy intimacy with Him. Jesus says: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Mat. 11:28)
While running, a friend makes us better and as we run our lives Our Friend, Jesus, is there to also make us better. He is the one who truly knows us. He never misunderstands us or is too busy to listen to us. He does not get distracted or preoccupied. He does not judge but loves unconditionally. If only we would surrender ourselves to his Friendship and care…
This is my favourite running verse in the Bible (which is actually about living):
“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.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)