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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Negative Splits

One of my greatest running failures is an ability to run negative splits.  For you non-runners, all this means is that you end faster than you started.  It's especially important for mid-distance racing, to shave off seconds on each mile until you reach your maximum threshold that last mile.  Negative splitting is in direct defiance of entropy.  Negative splits means you're actually getting better and faster as time progresses.

Negative splitting is the human ideal and the ultimate "try harder/do better" mentality our culture is especially obsessed with but fails at every time.

Take our healthcare for example.  I was at the Supreme Court yesterday, watching protestors chanting about how women need to "keep their freedom," and how this is the better way, etc.  We want to "get better all the time" and we create this massive, partisan beauracracy that tramples freedom and conscience rights at every level.  Healthcare, you just lost the race.

I see entropy in my life all the time.  My mileage keeps falling.  Why can't I "negative split" my 2012 and "get faster all the time" at running, at school, at serving, and at leading?

Where does improvement intersect with grace and where does pressing forward actually surpass a standard?

Five truths I have discovered about negative splitting in general:
1. In each race there is a new opportunity to push harder than you have before.  Why?  New mercies every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23)
2. If you never try to get faster, you won't.  If you never fail, you won't understand why Jesus had to be perfect
3. Negative splitting requires consistent training and consistant training is a great example to the fainthearted
4. Negative splitting sucess is only about the race at hand--being present.  The comparison is to your performance THAT DAY.  Victory means simply putting your head down at the end in that moment.  It's pushing hard in the moment, leaving behind past failures, and not worrying about the future.
5. Intensity is counter-cultural.  Negative splitting mentality is desired but rarely practiced.  Why not pray for a spirit of intensity in all you do?

Negative splitting presents a paradox in my paradigm.  I know I want to try harder, but all the time I know I will fail.  Am I defeatist?  Unrealistic?  Hopefully hopelessly naive?  I'll just close with what Paul, the man who understood the gravity of the race said about this idea of pressing forward, against the tides of selfish desires:

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

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