God says in Genesis, "It is not good for man to be alone." Shucks, even the Lone Ranger wasn't really alone--he had Tonto. I have found over many years that I'm at my worst when left to my own devices, and at my best when I have friends who can encourage me, hold me accountable, and kick me in the butt. I've been blessed over the years to have had several "best" friends at various times in my life. Sadly, most of them have wound up living far away, and in many cases we have grown apart as we got older (although I'd be there in a minute for any of 'em if there was a need). I don't have a true "best" friend (except, obviously, for my wife) right now, but I've got some pretty good folks in my life who help me be the person I want to be.
As we start off the new year, I'm 12-for-12 on days of getting my Bible reading done. Part of this is because I've made my struggles with it public (here and elsewhere), and I have some folks who I know are going to ask me how I'm doing. My buddy Chad and I have made a pact to talk at least once a week and encourage one another in this area. It also means a lot to me that I have my "Iron Men" (from Proverbs 27:17) at church who pray for each other. Not only do their prayers encourage me, I am confident that the prayers are effective in a way my self-disicpline alone could not be (James 5:17).
On the running front, I'm motivated by both friendship and competition. My friend Hugh coaches with me, and shares my off-season time and motivation struggles. But he'll call me a wuss in a second flat, and I know that if I don't put in the miles, the next time we're together on a run he'll just drill me mercilessly. Same with my brother-in-law, Adam. He's a minister who will drop me an e-mail saying, "here's a little encouragement from a Christian brother: get off your lazy butt and RUN!" Of course, I'd do the same for either of them... and secretly (or not-so-secretly) I fantasize about being the guy who's able to put the hurt on them if the tables ever turn.
Lately I've had another great running "buddy"--my wife, Ann. She is such an inspiration. She HATES to work out, but she does it religiously... her mood doesn't even enter into the equation. She is so self-disciplined, and she's reaping the benefits right now of being early in her running career, when all the breakthroughs come quickly, when races are new and exciting, and when going just 5 minutes more on the treadmill is uncharted territory. Last week, she resolved to do 10 miles, total. And she did, of course. On Friday, I looked at my log and had 7 (in 2 runs, with a couple of days of weak excuse-making thrown in). No way that's going to work, I thought, so I laced 'em up and squeezed in an easy 3 to match her in double-digits. Repeat that every week, and I'll easily get the 500 I failed to log last year.
I'm trying not to look too far ahead... I read recently a great quote that said "A successful life is merely a succession of successful days." I'm just going to keep on eating that elephant, one bite at a time. Gotta go. I'm going to run right now.