Sakura and I did a one mile training run together today. We’ve only had about 2-3 practice runs and I can already see such improvement in her stride, her pace, and most of all her confidence level.
As we ran, as expected, she grew uncomfortably tired fairly quickly.
“I’m tired. I’m hot. My legs hurt.”
The usual complaints.
This time instead of being empathetic and trying to persuade her to fight through the pain, I just kept encouraging her.
“You’re doing awesome! Look how fast you’re running!”
“Wow Sakura! You are an amazing runner! Keep moving.”
I was astonished with the immediate improvement in her attitude and performance when I acknowledged her complaint, but didn’t make any effort to “solve it.” All I did was continue to coach, encourage and cheer for her.
I understand what she felt was real and valid. It really was ridiculously hot this afternoon. We were running quite faster then we have on previous runs so her leg muscles were probably aching. But, she totally had it in her to keep moving…
She finished her mile in 10:38. That’s almost a minute faster then the last race she ran!
I tell this quick story to illustrate a very simple point. So often when we hear of struggles from friends, family, fellow Christians or co-workers we focus our efforts immediately on relief or aiding in fixing the problem. That’s not always wise or beneficial. Sometimes we just need to encourage those around us to keep moving. Keep pursuing what is right. Tell them they are doing well, even though in their own efforts they feel exasperated.
Sometimes the course of life is brutal and agonizingly painful. Timely positive words have such power. Words of encouragement can make the discomfort of even the weariest runners bearable and perhaps make the course even enjoyable!