I’ve been meaning to write a blog for awhile now, but quite honestly I’ve been a bit distracted. I am the worst when it comes to distractions, whether its Twitter, Facebook, clicking on junk email or just zoning out like Walter Mitty. Distractions can sometimes be a good thing for a runner, especially when you need to block out the pain, however when it comes to a major race like the 1500m I ran at the USA Championships three weeks ago, too many distractions can be detrimental.

When I lined up for USA’s three weeks ago I told myself I was ready and focused, yet in reality my head was full of distractions. Instead of just focusing on qualifying to the final round I’d spent the days leading up to that race with a million thoughts buzzing through my head; planning my wedding, packing my apartment to move, preparing for my first trip outside the US, dealing with an injury and more. Despite all of this, I thought I’d be okay if I could let all of those distractions go as I stepped onto the track, but it doesn’t exactly work like that. The whole race was a blur and before I knew it I found myself in the back of the pack, my chance at racing in the final round slipping away like quick sand.

When I finished, I was definitely upset but also didn’t know exactly how to feel. Yes, I went into that race with a lot on my mind and several of my prior weeks of training had been dampened by injury, but I hated the idea of allowing room for excuses. However, when spoke to Coach Gags he said something that made me see things differently. “You’re running with a piano on your back,” meaning I had way too much on my mind to expect to race against the best.

As an elite athlete, going into a competition with a distracted mind just doesn’t work. Sure, to compete at the highest level you must be able to deal with any kind of circumstances, but when its an injury that’s distracting your performance, along with major events like getting married and moving, it becomes difficult to expect to race at 100%. And so, when I ended up sick the whole week following my race I realized being sick, injured, preparing for a wedding and racing against the best in the World don’t exactly mix. And so, I decided it was best to go home and end my season.

It was tough at first, missing out on all the fun every other elite runner seemed to be having while racing in Europe and setting big PR’s, but every time I saw running-related results,Ttweets and Instagrams I had to keep reminding myself that in hind-site I’m glad I’m able to be home with family, preparing for my marriage, which is more important than some marginal victory on a piece of rubber. I love running, but that love cannot be compared to the love I have for my fiancé, and even more so the love of God.

That’s what “Not Running for A-Win” has always been about, the idea that my whole life shouldn’t be focused on just running to win, and running for my own glory. There’s a big difference between being focused on running and allowing running to be the only focus of my life. Sometimes the only way to realize you are distracted is to give up that thing all together. Despite my will, I had to take some time off running to heal my injury and thus entered the death-like state that all injured runners come to know and despise. However, three weeks later I can honestly say its been good for me to hit the “reset” button and re-evalute priorities.

During my time off running I started thinking a lot about how distractions affect our relationship with God. Just like any relationship, distractions are rarely a good thing, and if we are too preoccupied with other “noise” it becomes more difficult to hear the voice of God. In Luke Chapter 8 the Bible talks about distractions when Jesus tells the Parable of the Sower. In this story, there’s a farmer who scatters seeds among the ground. Some of the seeds fall onto a path, some on the rocks, some seeds fall into the weeds, and others into rich soil. It doesn’t take a science fair experiment to figure out which seeds will grow well, but this is not a lesson in agriculture. Instead, Jesus warns us of the danger of distractions, specifically when he mentions the seeds that fall among the weeds. “As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear (the Word of God) but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares, riches and pleasures of life, and they do not mature.”-Luke 8:14.
If we aren’t careful, the distractions in our lives can choke us off from what’s most important, like our relationship with God, and with the people around us. Just like an athlete must be focused on their training, or in the business world one must be focused on meetings, budgets or deadlines, we all need to choose carefully where we put our attention. My fiancé always likes to ask me before my races, “Are you laser-focused?” But more importantly, I need to start asking myself what I’m focused on, and use that direction to take action, not distraction!

*I can’t tell you how many times I got distracted just in writing this blog, but what can I say, I’m only human. Anyways, I’d love to hear thoughts/comments/advice from YOU! In the mean time, I’ll be NOT running (for A-Win that is) although once I’m married I’ll no longer go by the nickname,“A-Win.” I will, however, as always, keep running for Christ (I Run For Christ #IR4C) And you can continue to follow along my spiritual journey on this blog!
-Amanda (soon to be Rego) Winslow

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