Simple Duty
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Simple Duty

The Mind of a Champion

Choosing Pain Over Comfort

runner setting up in his starting blocks on a track
Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash

When I was in high school, I joined the track team. I didn’t want to run track, but the counselors were beating it into our heads that we needed extracurriculars.

I wasn’t an unathletic kid. I loved sports, but I hated running. Every year when it was time to run the mile in gym class, my stomach turned. I still remember that first day of track practice. School had just ended; the team was hanging out under some shade trees when suddenly, some guys got up and took off. Everyone followed. About a half-mile in, we were approaching a turn that would have brought us back to the starting point. Surely, I thought, we’ll be turning here, but nope. We continued on. In all, our warm-up lap totaled the dreaded mile; I was too done. Thus began a long semester of running track before I switched over to pole-vaulting the following semester.

One of the events that I ran was the 400m dash. Who would have thought that running 400m could be so torturous? If you’ve never tried sprinting 400m, go give it a try today. You’ll be crying by the time you reach 200m; your legs will be jelly by 300m; you’ll cross the line at 400m at a snail’s pace. I maxed out with a personal best of around 62 seconds, which is quite slow. But I can still remember one of the workouts done by the best guy on the team.

He ran the mile and was a state champion. In this workout, he was running 400m laps. He would run one lap, take a short break, then run another lap over and over again. What made it so memorable for me was that there was no end. The workout was just as mental as it was physical.

A target time was set. After each successful lap, the target time dropped. With each passing lap, he had to run faster to achieve the target on the next lap. The workout would not end until he failed three times. He had complete control: let up just a little, and the pain would be over. Just when it seemed like he could go no further, he would somehow crank out another lap. Again and again, he managed to beat the clock. By the end of the workout, he had run close to thirty laps at a breakneck pace.

It would have been so easy to let up — to give in to the pain and slow down just a little to end the workout. Nobody would know, but that’s not how you become a champion.

“The complacency of fools destroys them.” (Proverbs 1:32, ESV)

We cannot become complacent; we cannot become content with what we’ve already accomplished; we cannot get comfortable. We must press on. Lean into the pain — one more lap. If you want to do great things, you cannot settle. You cannot hit the repeat button. You cannot rely on past success. Go one more lap.

Approach even the smallest of tasks like a world champion on the Olympic stage.




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Mike Panton

Mike Panton

Husband | Dad | Home-Barista | Cross-Cultural Minister 🇮🇩

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