The 10 percent rule
February 20, 2012
by Rev. Joe Midthun, All Saints Lutheran Church, Darwin

I love to run. There is something freeing about being outside on a midwinter afternoon, breathing the chilly air, and listening to a new record I’ve downloaded.

I would love to run all day, every day. Unfortunately, I cannot. Elite marathon runners will run over 150 miles in an average week. The rest of us mortals are lucky to get even a fraction of that.

There are plenty of things that get in the way of running. Work and family commitments are the obvious culprits, but ask most serious runners, and they’ll tell you what really prevents them from running that much is injury.

Biomechanics is a complex word for the way different bodies react to the stresses of an activity. Basically, some people have bodies meant for running. Some people can run 150 miles a week without injury, while others are pushing it at 30. This isn’t to say we can’t become more efficient and healthier runners, but it is easier for some than others.

The biggest mistake I and many other runners make is over training. When it comes to running, you should never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent; anything more than that and you’re risking injury.

I’m injured a lot, and when my body starts to feel the aches and pains, I know it’s time to rest. This, however, creates a great deal of guilt as I wonder if I’m losing my fitness or gaining a few pounds during the time I am resting.

One of my favorite things about being a pastor is visiting new members. New members are often like new runners. There is this desire to overdo it. People may commit to being in church every week, or want to get on a committee or board right away.

Many people are able to do this, and I am always impressed with them. They must have great church-mechanics. For many people, however, the 10 percent rule yields better results.

Whether you attend church regularly or haven’t been in one for years; know that your relationship to God is not based simply on how much you do in a church or how many hours you spend there a week. This isn’t to say church is only for those with the right faith; instead, that church is for everyone. Whether you’re a slow walker or an elite marathoner, there is room for you at your comfort level.

So, I invite you to think of your own faith, spend some time in daily prayer, and enjoy the gift of community.