What Is A Mentor?

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I use to dream of running in the historic Patriot’s Day Boston Marathon because it is the world’s oldest annual marathon. The most infamous portion of the 26-mile, 385-yard course is called “Heartbreak Hill.” The “hill” only rises 80 vertical feet over a half-mile portion of the race, but the hill comes between miles 20-21 when the runners are often near exhaustion. Every year, on the third Monday of April, thousands of spectators gather there to cheer on the runners.

During one race, a young man was near total exhaustion as he approached Heartbreak Hill. Halfway up the slope, an older man, in better shape, came alongside the younger man. He put his arm around him and quietly encouraged him. Together, step by step, they painstakingly made their way to the top. What an awesome picture of affirmation and comfort! The Bible reminds us that God comforts us so we will pass comfort to others. When God encourages us, He wants us to encourage others. When God forgives us, we should forgive others.  When God shows us patience, we should extend patience to those who need it.

What a perfect picture of what we often do as MENTORS!

There are times when mentoring is nothing more than putting our arm around someone and helping them take the next step. Mentoring is also a picture of the overflow of Christ in our lives. As we grow toward spiritual maturity, we respond more and more as Christ would respond in the same situation. His reaction becomes our reaction.

Find someone today who needs to be encouraged. Speak words that strengthen and comfort. Show kindness and extreme patience. Put your arm around someone and run with them during a difficult hill of life. Forgive, care, cry, laugh, be there, be real! Be, to them, what God has been to you! Amen!

6 Steps to Run Faster

When you first start running your goals usually center on distance. You may set a goal to run around the block, to run a mile, or to run a 5k. After you run for a while you typically add time to the goal equation. In other words, you begin to ask the question “how can I get faster?” Here are some steps to seeing your times improve if you’re fairly new to running:

6 Steps to Run Faster

1. Consistent slow, base-building running. Over time this improves your cardio capabilities and builds running muscles. The pace of this run is called “conversational pace.” In other words, you can carry on a conversation during the run without getting short of breath because you’re running slow enough to do so. Most coaches teach that 80% of our weekly running should be at this pace. I personally believe that the percentage can be even higher for newer runners.

2. Increased volume. Continue to increase the number of miles you run each week, but do so carefully. Never increase your weekly mileage more than 10% at a time. Every 2 or 3 weeks you should decrease your miles during that week for recovery purposes.

3. Weight loss. Any excess weight that we carry slows us down, so as you continue to eat healthy and lose weight you will naturally see improvements.

4. Cross training. It will be helpful if you do more than run. Stretching, light weight lifting, yoga, cycling, swimming–any of these will help you improve and give your legs a break.

5. Speedwork. Personally, I would not worry about speedwork as a new runner. I would substitute hills for speedwork. Hills are actually speed work in disguise without the pounding and risk of injury. When running a hill, shorten your stride, keep your head up, and pump your arms with the feeling that your elbows are reaching behind you. Your pace will actually slow down while going uphill, but your effort level will stay the same or even increase a little.

6. Cadence. “Cadence” refers to how many steps you take per minute. Strive to increase your cadence to 170-180. A higher cadence ensures a shorter stride. In turn, a shorter stride produces better form and protects against injury. An uninjured runner will be able to train more consistently. All these factors often lead to faster times.

More running-related posts below:

6 Tips for Beginning Runners

Bring on the Rain

You Light My Path


6 Tips for Beginning Runners

ShoesI’ve been an on-again-off-again runner for the past 35 years.  I love running, but on occasion, I’ve allow life’s responsibilities to cause me to set aside my favorite sport for matters that seem more pressing at the moment.  Over the last 7 years, I have been “on-again” with my running and I feel better as a result.

On January 18, 2010, I made the decision to step on the bathroom scale.  I knew I had put on “a little weight” and in my mind I thought I might, for the first time in my life, even weigh close to 200lbs.  The scale rocketed past the 200-mark and finally settled on 218.  I’m 5′ 11″ tall with a small frame–let’s just say that I was much heavier than I imagined.  That moment was a WAKE-UP CALL for me.

The next day I began to run (mostly walk) again and I began to think differently about eating.  Gradually, over the next few months, I lost a significant amount of weight.  I currently weigh around 165, but I still have to work at keeping my weight at a healthy mark.

You may be considering running.  You may want to drop a few pounds.  Allow me to share a few basics things that I would recommend as you begin.

6 Tips for Runners Who Are Just Beginning

1.  Start now.  If you feel any inspiration at all, then begin now.  Of course, if you have any health concerns, it would be wise to see your doctor and get his or her approval before beginning.

2.  Buy good shoes.  Find a local running specialty store and purchase a good pair of running shoes.  Go in the afternoon when your feet have “settled” for the day.  The clerk will measure and fit you properly which should provide you with a shoe that fits snugly around the heel and gives you a little extra room in front of the toes.  After you settle on the right shoe, you can buy additional pairs online at a discounted rate, but initially you should take advantage of the expert advice found at the running store.

3.  Walk a lot at first.  Start by mainly walking.  You will probably be able to walk a mile in 16-18 minutes.  Mix in a little running along the way.  Gradually walk less and run more.  Running coaches like Jeff Galloway say that you should continue to mix in some walking even after you become an accomplished runner.  Galloway advocates a “run-walk-method” for exercise and races.

4.  Keep a running journal.  You can use a simple spiral notebook, a 3-ring binder, a published running log (can be purchased at running stores or bookstores), or a web-based journal (runningahead.com, logarun.com, Runner’s World log).  There’s just something about writing it down!

5.  Keep an eating journal.  I personally found that the biggest key to losing weight was knowing how many calories I was eating.  I used livestrong/myplate.com to track what I ate and to keep a running total of my daily calories.  Other good sites include fitday.com, myfitnesspal.com, and myfooddiary.com.

6.  Subscribe to Runner’s World magazine.  Runner’s World magazine is an excellent source of information and inspiration for beginning runners.  For less than the cost of a nice meal, you can purchase a multi-year subscription.

Many people find that they are more consistent if they enlist a running partner.  I personally cherish the solitude of running alone most of the time.  Please leave a comment if you have any suggestions or questions.