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Go with the Flow By Jonathan Harper

What are your favorite running routes? Do you have an easy run loop, long run loop, or a favorite road for intervals? As many runners pile on the miles for their fall peak race, we become very familiar with our favorite routes.

However, when summer vacations hit, we either have to obviously change our running routes, explore hilly roads, or just take a week off from running. If you’re like me, taking a week off is not an option.

Throughout my running career, from my times running in college to present, there were moments where I had to go with the flow, embrace my current circumstances, and just get the miles in. During my sophomore year in college, I went on a Spring Break missions trip in the middle of my track season. Due to a missions rule of never being out of eyesight of a team member, I had to run up to 12 miles around my hotel parking lot every morning. Thankfully, it turned out to be a decent ½ mile loop, but it was still laborious!

On another missions trip to the Dominican Republic, with my wife Addy and Mom, we could not leave the resort complex on our own, so I had to run hallways and stairs for about a week. My mom was crazy enough to join me. Team members said they would wake up in the morning to the sound of our feet running by, and we quickly gained a reputation.

As a youth pastor, I’ve attended Summer Youth Camps at Lost Valley Camp in Gaylord, MI as a camp counselor (called group leaders). As group leaders, we are not allowed to leave camp grounds during camp (and rightly so! Can you imagine leaving a 7th grade boy on his own for hours on end to freely roam 80 acres?) So once again, I developed a “camp route,” running loops on the grass just like cross country.

Lastly, I’ve had to get creative with long runs on vacation. On our last summer vacation, my wife and I decided it wouldn’t be best for my first day in a new area to run 19 miles on my own, not knowing the roads, and leaving her alone. We decided I would run a one mile stretch, back and forth, in front of our Airbnb. Go with the flow.

This summer and into the fall, go with the flow and allow God to use your time! Running on the missions trips gave me an opportunity to pray for the people serving. Running on the grass at camp preserved my legs and surprisingly made me feel super fresh. Deciding to stick close to our “home base” on vacation eliminated the possibility of getting lost and allowed me to have a lot of time to pray for Jesus to give us a good vacation. Stay flexible, stay motivated, and get the work in.

May your feet be swift and heart be strong,

Jonathan Harper About Jonathan Harper - In 2004 Jonathan ran his first 5K on the streets of Detroit with Marathon Mission and the Detroit Free Press Marathon. The forthcoming dozen years of soccer contributed to his fitness and finesse. He went on to run at Salem High School and earn All-State Honors at Clare High School. Running is in his blood. "J-Harp" became a strong NCAA - Division 1 contributor (all 4 years) to his Alma Mater, ORU, in Oklahoma. Since his college days, Jonathan continues to run long distance. Last year was his first full marathon (see below) virtually, on the streets of Clare. He came in first among all men in the full 2020 Detroit Free Press Marathon. This year he is excited to run the full 26.2 miles on the streets of Detroit. Currently, as the Clare Middle School Men's Track Coach, Harper sees potential in every runner and enjoys fanning into flame the gifts within each one. God is the captain of Harper's ship, and he can't imagine anything better than doing life with his bride (All-state sprinter and hurdler), Addy Harper.


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