Always Hay in the Barn

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”-Hebrews 11:1

Flipping through my notebook I came across this, and it seemed I couldn’t have found a better verse to sum up my thoughts after the Drake Relays, or really my thoughts about racing in general.
When it comes to running, our goals are often black-and-white, “I want to break 4:07 in the 1500m”or, “I want to finish in the top 3.” But the truth is, until we cross the line and get the official results all we have are “things hoped for” without any evidence that they’ll ever happen. Then, when we have an off race like I did last Friday night at Drake Relays, we sometimes start worrying where the evidence is that we can do what we hoped we could. “Have I been pushing myself hard enough in training? Am I doing everything I can? Did I mentally give up?” These were a few honest questions I was asking myself after I went from being in perfect position for 3 laps of my race but ended up nearly last by the time I finished. But then I remembered this was only my first 1500m of the outdoor season, a season that I hope to push further into the summer than I ever have. So what did I conclude? I don’t need to doubt myself, I just need to continue forward with more faith.

Drake Relays 1500m

Racing takes faith, and right now I’m not talking about faith in a spiritual sense, but the hope you have in your heart, the trust in your training and your coach, and most of all yourself. It seems obvious, yet this is the one thing every runner struggles with; from Sub-Bantam 5-year-old track toddlers to famous Olympians, every runner must deal with the battle between faith and fear when toeing the starting line.
This weekend I travel to Stanford to race the 5000m at the Payton Jordan Invite on Sunday. This will be my first time racing the 5k against a highly competitive field of women from all across the country. Since I’m still fairly new to this event I know I must have faith that I can run with the best, despite having less experience than many of them.
When it comes to doing something for the first time there will always be more fear present than usual. I still remember how nervous I was back in high school for my very first State meet, over thinking every detail the morning of my race and forgetting to focus on my fitness. What I wish I knew back then is that its okay to be a little scared, as long as you hold on tight to faith.
My high school coach used to tell us “the hay is in the barn,” meaning that the hard work was done and all we had to do was confidently run the race we were ready to run. Sometimes I try to picture all of the hay in that barn. Imagine, every day of training leading up to your race you were loading up this barn, sometimes one straw at a time, other days by the wagon-load. Some days you ran extra hard, proudly rolling in giant bails of hay, while other days you sulked away discouraged after a “bad” workout and never realized that the haystack still rose higher because of your persistence.

Well its about time we start visiting that good ‘old barn. Hidden down some long forsaken country road we’ll find it if we search hard enough. There it will stand, taller and wider than we remember, and when we open the latch and fling open those big wooden doors we’ll find more hay inside than our heads can fathom. All the hard work is there, you just need faith to see it. The hay is in the barn, and not just when you go to taper, its piling up all season long.
When it comes to racing, faith is essential. Confidence is key, and the only thing that can conquer faith and courage is an overwhelming presence of fear. Notice I didn’t say a little bit of fear, but an overwhelming amount. Nerves are normal, and can be good in fact, but when fear overpowers faith we’re in trouble. Remember that faith is the substance of things hoped for. To have faith is to hold tight to the hope in your heart. If you let it go then fear will take over and spread like fire. Letting fear take control of your race is like lighting a match to the barn full of hay.
Having strong faith isn’t easy, but its something everyone has to deal with. My faith in God isn’t something I can passively accept, it’s a relationship I have to continually work on and try to improve. In the same way, so is the faith in my running. Sometimes a disappointing race is what it takes for me to realize I need to revisit the “barn” and remind myself of the abundance of hard work I have behind me. Faith is “the evidence of things not seen,” but if we look hard enough I believe we can find that evidence deep within ourselves. If we have faith we’ll see there’s always hay in the barn.

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