A couple of friends and I ran a hard uphill route the other day and around mile 5 my mind kept coming to a place where I was content with my effort and in a way I was excited because I knew I was halfway to the point where we would turn around and run back downhill. My mantra on runs like this is Relentless Forward Movement. When I hit the next burning glutes section I just begin repeating that knowing that it isn’t really going to make the uphill slog any better but it is conditioning my mind to overcome the pain and uncomfortable feelings running through my body. We finally arrived at the turn around point and began the 10 mile run downhill which is ways is just as bad as the uphill but a lot more fun because you’re losing altitude and it’s at least easier to breathe. Suddenly as I got around 18 miles in my mind started thinking about how much like life this run was. Maybe it was the slight uphill or something but my mind was so set on how often in life we allow the ups and downs to affect the way we live our lives, the way we interact with family and friends, the way we work, the way we worship our Creator. For the next two miles I thought mainly about what is my mantra to set my mind at peace over all the circumstances that are going to occur on a daily basis, how am I going to be of steadfast mind no matter what is going on around me.
There were so many verses that coursed through my head about steadfastness. Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a pure heart, O god, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 112:7 “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” The definition of steadfast is “resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering”. The Holman Bible Dictionary has this remarkable explanation of steadfast. “A word meaning to endure patiently. A steadfast person is one who is reliable, faithful and true to the end. Paul said Jesus was a person of steadfastness (Romans 15:3-4). The NAS translates steadfastness with “perseverance” (2 Thessalonians 1:4). James said that trials that test our faith produce steadfastness (2 Thessalonians 1:3 KJV “patience”, NAS “endurance”, NIV “perseverance”).
Maybe those definitions are why my mind was so settled on steadfastness those last 2 miles. The secret to running long amounts of miles for long amounts of time is simply the ability to get your mind into a better place so that you can overcome whatever the route is going to throw away. It means that no matter how many twisted ankles, rolling hills, long uphills, rocks, stumps and roots that are trying to trip you up, no matter what your stomach is feeling like, no matter how hot or cold you are. None of these things matter because you are going to get your mind in the right place. For me this means that on a daily, almost minutely, basis I have to get my mind centered on thoughts that are going to bring about the desired result I am looking for. Maybe others are stronger and don’t need to re-center their thoughts on a constant basis but that is where I am and it works for me.
But what about most people? How many people who aren’t ultra runners struggle with the same thought life that doesn’t allow them to be steadfast in knowing that no matter what life throws at them are still going to endure to the end because there is this great big God who has us in the palm of His hands? Do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that no matter what you’re going through that there is a way to keep your mind steadfast? There is a way to keep your mind steadfast on the Creator God and His ability to keep you from harm and there is nothing He longs to do more than to renew your mind so you can shove out the negative thoughts about not making it up the hills of life and that He is there to deliver you to a better place. That’s what steadfast thinking is all about and why the mantra Relentless Forward Movement is so important to us no matter what we are pursuing. When I am making forward movement there is no place for the negative thoughts to enter into my thinking and I am able to stay steadfast in my thoughts dwelling on my Creator God delivering me once again to a place where my feet fall on flat surfaces and He draws me into His presence.
That is what living an ultra life is about. When we live our lives to the full, to the extent where we feel like we’re bursting with joy and contentment we are all about living an ultra life. And it all starts with our hearts and our minds.