J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

Goals Worth Hitting are Goals Worth Getting

Goals Worth Hitting are Goals Worth Getting

Goals worth hitting are goals worth getting.

Let me explain.

If your goal is a good goal (virtuous, healthy, etc.), then it is worth persevering until you hit it. Obviously, the opposite is true. If it is a selfish goal, let it go.

But what do you do when you have a good goal, but you keep missing it? What do you do when it alludes you? The answer is a simple:

Goodness of Goal + How Much You Love It = Perseverance

8 years ago I decided to run a marathon. I nearly died, but I finished with a 4 hour and 44 minute time (4:44). I then decided that I wanted to qualify for the Boston Marathon, but I knew that running under 4 hours was the next step. The next year, I ran in the 4:20’s. And finally, on my third try, I learned better training and ran a 3:57.

I was close to the Boston Marathon, right? Nope. With my age, I needed to run in the 3:20’s. Another 37 mins? That’s crazy.

But the goal was good and my love of running was strong. It was worth hitting.

Then there was one big problem. The following two years, my body was racked with seizures. I went from marathons to barely being able to run 3 miles. When I finally completed another 26.2, I barely ran under 5 hours. 5 hours.

But the goal was good, and my love was strong.

Now, I’m closer than ever. I only need to shave 9 minutes from my best marathon to qualify for Boston. I’ve gotten close, and I will give it another shot later this year.

So, what is your goal?

Is it a good goal?

Is it losing weight?

Making more money?

Loving your spouse better?

Whatever the case, don’t give up. If you love what you want, then you will persevere to the good goal, even when it is hard.

Even when there are setbacks.

Even when there are heartbreaks.

Even when there are seizures.

And one last thing: Loving a good goal means learning how to do it well.

Research it.

Hack it.

Find out as much as you can about how to reach that goal.

That will engender a greater love and greater hope.

So, get out there on those goals. If you don’t have a big goal, find one. You need goals in life to help you have purpose. Those goals can be spiritual, physical, whatever. But make the goal tangible and quantifiable, that way you will know how you are doing and when you hit it.

Get out there, folks.

Goals worth hitting are goals worth getting.

March 30, 2017 Posted by | health, men, running, the ly life, training men | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Listen to Your Feet and Grow Closer to God

How can listening to your feet improve running and your relationship with God?

On a recent mid-week run, I was cruising along listening to my favorite podcast.  There was the typical fatigue that mid-week anything brings, but this run was more difficult.  Something else was going on.  What was it?

In a rare moment of silence during my 1.5x speed podcast, I heard it.  The balls of my feet were striking the ground, not propelling me.  The way my feet were landing was actually fighting each step I took (that is a good way to get shin splints btw).  The correction for this is easy:  correct your posture, swing your arms like pendulums, and elongate your step.  The next thing I knew, I was running confidently, faster, and with less fatigue.

I would never have discovered these things had I not listened to my feet.

This is true spiritually as well.  In our relationship with God, lows are common, but we often don’t know the source.  And just like my running with podcasts, there are too many distractions for us to actually know the cause of those lows.

Recently, I enjoyed leading 7 couples of church officers, future church officers, and their families in a roundtable Q&A about life in church leadership.  We talked about time demands, family demands, church stresses, and unspoken expectations from church members.  In the evening, my lovely wife helped me process the conversations.  She highlighted that I missed stressing the joys of Gospel partnership and instead, over-emphasized the challenges.  As is typical, she was right.

How did I miss that?  I love preaching the Gospel.  The Gospel is the basis solution for everything we do and the drive of my ministry.  The answer?  I hadn’t taken time for silence to hear what was going on in my own heart.  Upon reflection, and in a bit of silence, I realized that I was struggling with ministerial disappointment and with my expectations with God.  That struggle affected the tone of my leadership in that conversation.

So, whether in running or relationships (with God or family), listen to your feet.  Where are you dragging them and where are you stumbling?  That time to listen will teach you much about your heart and will teach you where to make changes.



April 28, 2016 Posted by | church, church planting, gospel, training men | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gordon Pauses and Needs to See a Doctor

pauseHey Gang,

While I’m likely to issue a press release every time Evident Grace twitches, and I’ve worn all of you out on Facebook every time I write a new book, I am not typically issuing updates about my health.  However, since a few of you have heard about what’s going on with me, I thought I would send out a prayer update.

To begin with, I’m fine, but the doctors have diagnosed me with an epileptic condition as I am having what they call “silent seizures”.  As always, things like this work best in story.

Last year, around the time my father (Sam) passed away, I began have pauses.  A pause is when all of a sudden, in the middle of a conversation or even driving down the road, I just stopped talking.  I couldn’t talk if I wanted to say anything.  As many of you know my pace, pausing is not something I typically do.  But if I was in the middle of a conversation, I would all of a sudden just stop.  I felt the moments coming on, and I was aware that I was having them.  10-15 seconds later, they would go away.

In October of last year, I had a yearly checkup and told my doctor about them.  After hearing that I had lost both of my parents over a five month period, that I was switching jobs, and that I was moving out of the state, he chalked them up to fatigue and stress.  So, I did too.

But over the past few months, these pauses began to increase in frequency.  I was having them at least twice a week.  And, on an occasion or two, I spoke some pretty non-sensical things that I didn’t remember saying.  I even had them in two sermons which most of the congregation chalked up to a movement of the Spirit or perhaps a frustration with the crowd.

We have a doctor at Evident Grace, and I asked him to keep an eye out in case I ever had one around him.  He was at one of those sermons where I paused, and he recommended that I see a local neurologist that he respected.

So, about a month ago, I had my first appointment, and the doc suggested that I have an EEG and an MRI (one of those strange acronyms that begins with a consonant yet demands an “an” before it).  The MRI came back negative, so we know that it’s not a tumor (said in my best “Kindgarten Cop” voice).   However, the EEG showed some brain abnormalities on the left hand side.  The doc has prescribed some anti-seizure meds, and they are working so far.  They do, however, make me incredibly sleepy, and this is to be expected for the first month as my body adjusts.

So, that’s where we stand.  I may have more tests to go as the types of seizures I’m having are rare in adults, but the primary plan right now is to get used to the meds and keep track of any more moments that I might have.

I appreciate your willingness to read this diatribe, but I do desire your prayers.  These moments have been incredibly stressful to Amy and the girls.  I’m slogging my way through my new meds, and we are praying that nothing about this worsens.  Evident Grace is aware of what’s going on, and everyone has been incredibly encouraging and prayerful.  I just need to be wise about my pace with them, with my family, and with my training schedule.  If I need rest, I need to get it.

Thanks for your prayers, and feel free to email me back with any thoughts or questions.  I do really appreciate how much Amy and I can depend on you guys for prayer.

You rock.


August 27, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


After posting my early morning runs on Twitter, a bot found me from Twunlog.  Twunlog is a Twitter based running blog that can be updated via Tweets (obviously) or manually on the computer.  After seeing its capabilities, I signed up and I like it so far.

Have any of you other runners interacted with Twunlog?  Please let me know.  Thanks for the feedback.

January 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

The Long and Winding Road – Thunder Road Marathon Musings Part 2

The half way point of the marathon was exhilarating for me. I was feeling strong, and my time was outstanding. I wondered if I could keep it up, but I remembered several folks telling me that you run much faster than you train, so I wasn’t worried.

Having seen Amy and the girls between mile 13 and 14, I was ready to go the distance.

We smartly let up a bit as our second half progressed, and I was feeling so good that I began to wonder if the 20 mile wall existed. Well, I discovered that it does. At 18, my legs started to tighten. My wind was still great, but the weight of the race was crashing in on me. 8 miles to go seemed like a million.

My running buddy was starting to pull away from me a bit, and every time I worked to catch up with him, I discovered that my legs were getting progressively worse. We passed the 20 mile mark amid family and friend cheers, but I figured I would not be able to keep within eye distance of my buddy for much longer.

At 22 miles, there was wall with a door built into it in the middle of the road. A sign on it read, “Don’t hit the wall. Slap it!” Metaphorically, the idea was not to succumb to the dreaded marathon wall but take action against it. I was happy to make it through the wall at all as my right hamstring felt like there was a baseball sized knot in it.

Twice I told my buddy to run on ahead, but he wouldn’t do it. Finally, I told him, “Don’t worry, there is nothing that is going to keep me from finishing but you need to run your race.” Ultimately, he did, and I’m glad for him. He finished 10 minutes ahead of me.

The last 4 miles were going to be solo.

At 23 miles, the course came to a ridiculous ascent. It didn’t end with a plateau but with a hard right turn and a smaller but no less arduous climb. That was the last time on the race that I passed any one. Folks were stopping left and right, and most of them were stopping to massage out muscles aches. My run was slow but still a run nonetheless.

I kept praying, “God, please help me finish this. Please be merciful to me.”

Along mile 24, we ran beside Panther stadium which took us under a bridge. There was a thunderously loud marching band playing underneath. Their joy was encouraging but the deafening sound was the most motivating. It was so loud under that bridge I had to keep running.

Finally, I hit mile 25, and I knew I was going to finish. I picked up my pace a bit and started scanning for the finish line. I seemingly had forgotten the .2 part of 26.2. That .2 was a final run into a chute that was ridiculously up hill. I crossed with a smile on my face joyfully as I saw Amy and the girls cheer me on.

The volunteers give you a blanket, a medal, and a Gatorade (which I drank in a millisecond). Then I was incredibly aware of the vomit smell as so many before me had been hurling all around the finish line. I hadn’t wanted to throw up until that smell, and fortunately, I was able to hold it down.

As I hugged my family, it felt like the temperature dropped 20 degrees. After so long on the road, you just don’t notice the temperature any more, but I definitely did once I stopped running. I was freezing.

As I walked in circles trying to figure out what to do, I realized I just wanted to go get a shower and rest for a minute. The problem was that our car was at least a one mile walk away which was as painful for me as the last couple miles on the course.

I’ll probably run another marathon, but next time, I’ll be the one in control my pace. But until then, the experience is still a wonderful paradox for me: full of absolutely joy and terrifying misery at the same time.

This article also appears at the Raleigh Examiner. Read it there and help me earn a penny.

December 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

I Ran I Ran So Far Away – Thunder Road Marathon Musings Part 1

I’m finding it hard to process the whole marathon experience.

It was June when I declared to Amy, “I’m going to run a marathon.” I’m glad I was so resolute in the pronouncement because had I known all that was demanded of me, I don’t know if I would have gone through with it.

18 weeks of training, and then one morning, the whole thing comes and goes.

The morning of the race was strange. My buddy Harry and I always ran at 5:00am, so a 7:50 am race time was late. We usually don’t eat before running, but we pretty much had to with so much time to kill before the start of the marathon. This being my first race of any sort, I didn’t really know what to expect at the beginning.

The check in and pre-race was fascinating. There were so many folks going through their rituals and a million people trying to go to the bathroom. I loved watching everyone. Folks were talking to themselves or listening to their ipods with their eyes closed. Most everyone looked like seasoned runners, but despite my relative inexperience, I still felt like I belonged.

My eyes were full, and I was like a kid at Christmas. I couldn’t believe the moment was finally here.

After going through about 5 variations of layers, I finally decided on what clothing to wear, and Harry and I ventured out. We stood in the 32 degree weather for about 20-30 minutes waiting for the opening gun, and I must admit that I started with a huge grin on my face.

The first couple of miles were just me taking in all the sights. Every inch of street was covered in well-wishers to cheer us on. Our friend, Wendy Mays, greeted us early with her two sons cheering us along at the one mile mark. I knew that we were running much faster than our usual pace, but I figured we would settle down into our usual cadence once the traffic cleared out. However, a few miles in, we were still blazing.

I remember at one point around the 8 mile marker that we came up on huge climb. We tried to train on hills, but none of them compared to this one. It was the first true test of our endurance. At the top of the street was a DJ blaring the Black Eyed Peas’ “I’ve Got a Feeling,” and I must admit, the joy of the moment nearly brought me to tears. That moment on the run was euphoric. I still can’t fathom all my feelings during that portion of the race, but it made the entire experience worthwhile. I was running, running strong, enjoying myself, and things were good.

As we approached the half-marathon marker, I was still feeling strong. We were running a good minute and half per mile faster than usual, but I felt like even with a second half drop off, we were going to finish strong.

And then I saw my family. Amy and the girls were alongside the road yelling and cheering for me, and it was one of the most exhilarating moments of my life. I ran up to Amy, gave her a kiss, and yelled, “We ran the half in under 2.”

The moments of exhilaration and quick pace were few and far between for the second half of the marathon.

Tune in tomorrow for the second half recap…

This article also appears at the Raleigh Examiner. Read it there and help me earn a penny.

December 15, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

Photos from the Thunderoad Marathon

I hope to do a full write up for the marathon this week, but until then, here a few photos.

The 20 mile wall exists

Harry finished first with a strong crossing of the line.

I finished joyfully.

Celebrating the end.

December 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

A Runner’s Nightmare

I typically have the pleasure of making my long training runs with my buddy who is also prepping for a marathon. However, this past Saturday, with so much travel going on, I had to run 12 miles alone.

I headed out around 5:30am, so a good bit of my run was before the sun was up. On our runs, we typically catch this one dead end road which gives us 1 mile without the worry of oncoming cars. This dead-end also has no houses, so it is a quite dark half mile down and half mile back.

I entered the road enjoying a good pace, and I was far enough on the run where most of my early pains were gone. I was feeling great, but I was also aware that I was running down a dark road completely alone. As I neared the dead end preparing to turn around, I noticed some lights bouncing off of the trees. I began looking around wondering if there was a car behind me or if a car from the Interstate down the road was somehow casting a light onto the trees.

Then, I noticed that those weren’t car lights but a flashlight.

A silhouette of a man stepped out of the woods within 10 feet from me. I couldn’t see his face. All I knew was that he was walking towards me with the flashlight. I had pretty much nothing to defend myself if he was going to be hostile.

I’m not quite sure why I said what I did, but I practically yelled, “It’s me. I’m running and turning around,” hoping that he was as surprised to see me as I was him. I didn’t want to provoke him.

So turn around is exactly what I did. Once I was headed back up the road, I took off. I had no desire to figure out why this guy was in the woods before sun up. I didn’t want to know if he was a hunter or anything else. I just wanted to make it safely home.

I passed by the dead end road again on my route home but opted not to run down it, and I never saw the man again. The lesson learned was that when running alone, always run down places that are well lit and carry a cell phone. Oh yeah…I also learned that God is incredibly gracious and takes care of dumb runners like myself.

This article also appears at the Raleigh Examiner. Read it there and help me earn a penny.

November 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Rest Stop – Marathon Training Musings

gump running 2I have slightly over a month to go before I run the Thunder Road Marathon in Charlotte.  The training is at the point where I have one big run left (20 miles two weeks from today) and then the mileage backs off so the body can heal before the race.  I feel good, and after today’s run, I think my body is ready for 26.2.


I’m still a novice runner, so I’m constantly logging data points about myself throughout the process.  I know what to do to be ready for a run, and I know what I can do on days I haven’t prepared well.  I also know that there is no substitute for drinking water all day long.


The other day someone asked me why I was running.  There are the normal answers like, “It seemed fun,” or “I want to get one in before I turn 40,” but I think the biggest reason is the sense of accomplishment.


In the ministry, rarely is anything ever completely done.  Rarely can a pastor say, “Well, this is accomplished,” and walk away never having to return.  The work of the Kingdom is always about process and change.   Those aren’t bad things, but it can leave one with a sense that nothing is ever achieved.  On bad days, it can feel helpless and frustrating.


Training for the marathon gives me that sense of finality.   There are markers along the way in terms of achieving distance and time.  The marathon itself will be an accomplishment.  If I finish, I can say I did it and it is done.  Mentally, those are healthy things for me as I live and work in a sea of process and change.

This article also appears at the Raleigh Examiner.

November 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

A Dozen Do-Nots: Running

Dozen-DoNotsA Dozen Do-Nots is part of an on-going series.  You will also find posts about the Dozen from Mike Askew at http://bit.ly/4nnOim.  The idea is to present 12 simple things to avoid in the most practical of areas.

Since I am a novice runner preparing for my first marathon, I decided to post the 12 things that I have learned in my 3 months of training.  If any of you veteran runners want to contribute, feel free to add or post.  I hope you enjoy.

A Dozen Do-Nots:  Running

  1. Do not spit in front of you; spit to the side (you’ll figure this out).
  2. Do not wear 100% cotton shirts (it’s like wearing a 10 lb weight).
  3. Do not assume you can skip rest before a run.
  4. Do not forget to hydrate before, during, or after a run.
  5. Do not assume you are ready to train for a marathon.
  6. Do not wear brand new shoes on your run; break them in somewhere else.
  7. Do not waste time getting protein in you after your run (do it immediately).
  8. Do not brag about your time or pace.
  9. Do not skip stretching.
  10. Do not compare yourself to other runners.
  11. Do not assume oncoming cars can see you.
  12. Do not run at night alone.

Others in the Series:

Making Your Wife Happy – http://bit.ly/Ty5OK

Marriage Communication – http://bit.ly/IERbQ

Church Planting – http://bit.ly/37hAPb

Being Civil to Others – http://bit.ly/4nnOim

Mountain Biking – http://bit.ly/vdZ6

Wrestling with Your Kids – http://bit.ly/BaQff

September 1, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment