Stefan’s Marathon: What I Learned About Training for Life

“Hey! CrossFit works!!! 5:06 marathon, which is one minute faster than my old record. And I did it only by working out at the box [CrossFit gym]…no runs! … It’s a great feeling to run a marathon without spending all your spare time on the road running – boring…”

That was a text I received Sunday afternoon from Stefan, one of our awesome coaches at CrossFit 925. Stefan has been a competitive marathoner and triathlete for some time, so the completion of this marathon wasn’t a milestone, per se. What is remarkable about this particular achievement is that it was accomplished without adhering to a strict marathon training regimen, which could look something like this:

marathon training
Numbers refer to miles of running (except for week numbers)

Looks fun, right?

All Stefan did to prepare is what myself, my husband, and the people we coach at the box do four to five times a week, on average, and that’s CrossFit workouts.

To quote myself from an introductory blog to CrossFit, Crossfit WODs generally only last between ten and twenty minutes, but those minutes are jam-packed with intensity: no rest, 110% effort. More and more research is showing that shorter duration/higher intensity workouts yield higher benefits and better results. In actuality, the longer the effort, the lower the intensity.  For example, if I run a half-marathon, my intensity will be lower than if I ran multiple 400-meter sprints. Very time-efficient, to say the least!”

Many of our athletes have been flabbergasted by their athletic improvements, not only in strength and flexibility, but in endurance, speed, and stamina as well.[1] People who have never been able to run a mile in their lives are doing so now…and enjoying it! Others’ mile times decrease with almost every attempt. The funny thing is, we don’t run one whole mile at once very often, and yet everything else we do undoubtedly — if not mysteriously — trains us to be, among other things, strong runners.

Coach Stefan after his marathon!
Coach Stefan after his marathon!

This marathon-prepping, mile time-improving “phenomenon” (for lack of a better word), brings to mind the spiritual race of Christ-followers, one that calls for marathon-like commitment, discipline, focus, and endurance.

“Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”- Hebrews 12:1 (NKJV)

The road of the Christ-follower is not only narrow, it is fraught with peril, pain, and persecution (Matthew 7:13). The moment we “sign up” to run this race, the devil pins a target on our backs, and it flaps in the wind all of our lives like a black and white bib number. As marathon runners are plagued by bad weather, blisters, shin splints, and sprains, the race of the Christian is paved with countless obstacles that seek to derail and immobilize us (John 10:10). And if you’ve been on this planet long enough, you know that some obstacles are much, much larger than others…

A failed exam. A fender bender on the way home from work. A fight with your spouse. An argument with your best friend. These commonplace trials are 5-Ks and fifteen-minute CrossFit workouts in comparison to the marathon-sized events —  the sudden death of a loved one, the heart-wrenching throb of divorce, the bleak cold words of a cancer diagnosis — that truly test our faith, try our patience, and show our strength.

James, the brother of Jesus, wrote 2,000 years ago, that trials and tests produce perseverance (James 1:3). Every struggle in life, no matter the size, is significant. Every frustration, every discouragement, every mistake holds value because each one has the power to make us stronger, more prepared, and better equipped to face the hardships ahead. These gentler paths through winter’s wind give us strength for summer’s gale.

Stefan doing decline push-ups a few weeks ago at our CrossFit box!
Stefan doing decline push-ups a few weeks ago at our CrossFit box!

Stefan wasn’t aware that every WOD (“workout of the day”) was preparing him for his fastest marathon yet, but he can look back today and marvel at how the deadlifts, the squats, the box jumps and burpees trained him for the rigors of a five hour, six minute marathon.

Whatever we’ve been through, let us count it all as “pure joy,” joy to fuel us for the marathon (James 1:2). And above all, let us never forget that we are ultimately striving for a crown that will never perish after we cross the finish line.




“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” 1st Corinthians 9:25 (NIV)Stay fit, stay faithful, run your race ~<3 Diana 

finish the race



[1] We refer to everyone who does CrossFit as “athlete,” by the way! Our motto at CrossFit 925 is “Discover Your Inner Athlete.”


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