May 2011 Fit4Ever

Training Aimlessly

“...I do not run like one who runs aimlessly…Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” - 1 Corinthians 9:26-27

“Living without a purpose and a plan is like sailing a ship without a rudder—you’ll float aimlessly in circles and go nowhere.” – Unknown

Don’t you just love that quote? Personally, I believe it paints a great word picture for life, especially as it pertains to our physical health.

When it comes to physical well-being, one of the main reasons I think we often fail is because we train aimlessly and take a yo-yo approach to life. One minute we’re up, the next we’re down. One day we have great focus and direction, the next we’re playing catch-up. We just go through the motions and live by our fickle emotions and motivations without ever establishing a plan. We may have goals, but, if statistics are correct, most of us only revisit them about once a year.

Competitive athletes know how to train. They have clear objectives and know what they need to do in order to be at their best. They take direction from their coaches and trainers and do what they’re told, primarily because they believe their plan will get them where they want to go.

Scheduling events helps you develop consistent training and provides three key benefits:

1. Mission
Events give you a purpose and a reason to train.

2. Motivation
Events build urgency and give you deadlines.

3. Momentum
Events require consistency and prevent you from missing workouts or “falling off the wagon.”

There are many great websites that can help you find events in your area. Check out or to find great races and places!

When competitive athletes hit the offseason, however, they often lose a lot of the discipline they once had. And, when they hit the permanent offseason of retirement, many of them all but fall apart physically. I’ve seen and worked with a number of athletes who had tremendous discipline, consistency and work ethic for their sport, but once their purpose was removed, they began compromising, behaving inconsistently and making excuses. Their competitive fire wasn’t gone; they just didn’t have a goal to shoot for or a reason to train.

This is one reason why I love Paul’s athletic analogies. He seemed to know that all aspects of life require the purpose, focus and discipline of a competitive athlete. He knew that an aimless approach wouldn’t work—at least not if we wanted to win!

I fully believe that we all need clear goals—to be able to see our target in order to hit it. And, just as Paul taught, we have to understand that achieving those goals is going to take disciplined effort and consistency. In other words, we’re going to have to work.

So, instead of taking an aimless approach to physical health, let’s start focusing on getting back into that athletic mindset by laying out goals, making plans and seeking help from others.

A great way to get started is by putting an event on the calendar. Personally, I’ve found this to be the best remedy for aimless training. And, if we want to have lasting success, it’s best to become consistent with our training by engaging in repeated competition.

Try planning several events that keep you training year-round. Go ahead and register! Pay the entrance fees and make the events non-negotiable. Take it a step further by registering with friends so that you can’t make excuses to get out of them.

Now, I’m not saying you have to run a series of marathons right away. Your events can be anything from 5Ks to IronMan™ triathlons or even recreational sports leagues. Difficulty and sport don’t matter as much as the fact that you start training with a purpose.

The bottom line is that events keep us in the game. They push our limits and awaken our competitive spirit by giving us purpose, direction and motivation.

It’s time for us to stop training—and living—aimlessly. God has given us purpose in life, and He can use competition to bring out the best in us physically, mentally and spiritually.

This month, reconnect with the athlete inside of you and get back in the game. I have no doubt that the results will prove well worth the effort.

 --For more stories about faith and sport, visit, the official magazine of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. To subscribe to STV, click here.