Faster or Further?

I just ran across an article entitled, “Is It More Important to Run Faster or Run Longer?” I had a mild interest in this particular piece because I used to run a lot. That, of course, was in my younger days. I have little, if any, desire to run anymore.

I still run to the grocery store, but I tend to do that in my Jeep. But, when I’m reliving my glory days, I fondly remember that I was a track star (of sorts). I also played a semi-decent centerfield and was known for my base-stealing prowess when I participated in what used to be known as the National Pastime. 

The Proverbial Bridge

All that, of course, is just so much water under the proverbial bridge. If I could find that bridge, maybe I could retrieve something of what I lost. But even if I could, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t know what to do with it any longer. Time has a way of doing that to a person.

As it turns out, the author of the article ended by saying that he voted for all of the above. Apparently, one should not only run far but should run fast as well. To me, that was always a non sequitur (especially being a sprinter). When I was in my twenties, I could jog a few miles and I could do the hundred-yard dash in less than eleven seconds. Mixing the two, however, was unthinkable. 

Someone once said, “Speed kills.” I had found that to be especially true when I was attempting any distance beyond 220 yards. I could let it fly up to that point, but beyond that, a jog was all I could manage. These days, walking that far is a chore and a half.


Still, I’ve always been enamored with today’s long-distance runners. They not only have tremendous endurance, but their times are getting so low they often approach sprinting speed. The whole idea of running as far as one can while doing it as fast as one can…well, that’s just unfathomable to me. My hat is off to those men and women.

I’ve heard that there is a spiritual side to running like that. I can’t comment on it from experience, because I have no first-hand knowledge of it. Some people call it the “runner’s high.” The only high I ever experienced from running was in winning a race. That was as close as I ever got to a spiritual experience from my running days.

Still, like the writer of Hebrews, I’m prone to comparing the spiritual life with racing. For that person, however, it was not a sprint or even a fast marathon. Apparently, it was what my track coach used to call, “a gut race.” It’s long-distance, sometimes slow, and often plodding. The most important thing seemed to be that we would finish—endure to the end as it were. Sometimes I get weary of that race as well, but at least it’s not a sprint.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

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