The Olympic trials were run last weekend for the top three spots on both the men’s and women’s U.S. marathon teams. I heard a report that both of the top two men shared a common vision and practice: attention to detail.
I would imagine that most of us would have a hard time comprehending how anyone who can run a mile in close to four minutes, and run 26 miles in just over two hours, would need to devote himself to the tyranny of details. Fast is fast, and that is fast. The winning time for the men was just over two hours and eleven minutes, and the top women were not far behind.
We have talked about this before here in Cor Unum Abbey, and to women of devotion, to runners of this race of faith, to those who practice a monastic discipline and look for the joys to be found in it, if there is real help for us, we will have it.
We spoke a few years ago about Michael Phelps, the much-decorated swimmer, and how his coach would plan and put in place traps and detours in Michael’s training, like goggles that were rigged to leak in the pool, so that he would not ever be up against anything in a race that would deter him. He scheduled smaller meets and didn’t allow time for any food beforehand. We talked about how the man or woman who has been trained in the proper and most efficient reach for the edge is the one who most often wins by one or two hundredths of a second.
How is it possible that men and women who train in all four corners of the globe, in all climates and altitudes, with completely different trainers and styles of training, with vastly different physiques and diets, can come in one-two-three-four in their heat or their race, all within a split second of one another?
The first answer must be: every one of them knows the time to beat, so whatever their training, it is geared to shave even one-tenth of a second off that time. So we make this application:
It is critical that we keep the goal in mind. What is the goal for us here in this Abbey? It is CHRISTLIKENESS … Christ’s likeness … and ever shall be.
What then, knowing the goal and keeping it in our sights, what will help us cross the finish line and receive the crown? All run, but may it not be said that the one who wears the crown is the one who pays attention to detail? Champion runners find a step, a drill, a breathing technique that wins races. Champion swimmers practice their turn and push from the wall thousands and thousands of times over, becoming faster, more efficient, stronger with every passing week. Champion boxers train with deliberation and cannot win big until they learn that they must do much more than throw heavy punches.
Boxing is such a great teacher … when the face is bloodied and eyes blood-blinded, the legs are as gelatin, the breath is faint, the mind is blurred, the will crumpled, they all say the same thing, that they rely upon their training and discipline to see them through. So here is another application for us: First they gain victory over defeat, and then they gain victory over their opponents. It’s all in the details.
Jack Dempsey in the ring
from the George Grantham Gain collection,
no known copyright, on Wikipedia