Run so as to Win: A Spiritual Fitness Program

A plan to help you integrate your faith into your daily life.

Run so as to win.  1 Cor 9:24

Pinterest Fails is one of my favorite Google searches.  So. Funny.

We glorify failure all over the internet.

It’s funny to complain about how much you can’t stand your kids.  It’s cool to be a nagging wife.  It’s commonplace to have a thousand items on your to-do list that you can’t get to.

But when failure becomes the standard, we’re in for trouble.

It’s time to stop.  We don’t need to embrace failure.  We don’t need to put it on a pedestal as if it’s a good thing.

St. Paul says, “Run so as to win.”

We have a goal.  Our goal is heaven.  Our goal is relationship with God and with others.  Our goal is not to be better than everyone else, but to fulfill our vocation to the best of our ability.

And we don’t have to be perfect.  We win when we strive to become the best version of ourselves we can be.

Run so as to win.

We can win at momming.

We can win at homemaking and being a good spouse.

Most importantly, we can win at holiness.

So we need a plan.  This is no easy task.  It’s more like the Olympics.  We need to train.  We need to work hard.  We need to think about it every day.  You don’t win a race you never trained for.  You don’t win at momming if you celebrate all your failures and never try to improve.  You don’t win at holiness if you never pray.

Like athletes, we need a plan.  We need a spiritual workout.  A spiritual diet.

Let’s make that plan!

A Spiritual Fitness Program

Here’s a free printable to help you get your spiritual fitness on track.  Download it and print it.  While you read along, we’ll work together to plan your Spiritual Fitness Program for this week.

Spiritual Fitness Program Preview.png
click to download

The Spiritual Workout Plan

Some fanatics health-conscious, responsible people make sure they exercise every day.

If they want to reach their fitness goals, they can’t sit around like couch potatoes.  If we want to reach our spiritual goals, we need to work every day to make that happen.

Athletes talk about things like building muscle, toning, endurance training, and rest.  They talk about being intentional with your breathing.

We have to do all these things in the spiritual life too.

Let’s Build Some Muscle:

Get off your butt and grab your weights.

Tricep curls…

bench press…

uhmm… I don’t know anything about weight lifting.

Except that you have to do “reps.”  You have to lift those weights over and over if you want to beef those muscles.

If we want to beef our spiritual muscles, we need reps.

We need repeated opportunities to receive grace.  The things that come to mind are the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Rosary.  We say the same prayer over and over.


We call down God’s grace repeatedly.


In the Chaplet, we beg for Jesus’ Mercy over and over.  You have to try it, it’s amazing.

And quick!

It takes 5 minutes. (A 5-minute workout.  Those are the best!)

In the Rosary, we have Our Lady by our side like our weight trainer.

She’s there guiding us, spotting.  She’s got our back.  She knows what we can and cannot handle, and she intercedes with God on our behalf.

Some people say a whole 5-decade Rosary every day, and that’s amazing!  If that’s not you, start small.  You can’t jump right in to lifting a hundred pounds.  Try just a few Hail Mary’s.  Try one decade.

Build those muscles slowly, and soon you will find strength you never knew you could have.

Let’s tone our spiritual uh… bodies?

That would be our souls.

We need to tone them.  Refine them.  Shape them.  Slough off the pudgy edges.

Get some definition.

To tone ourselves spiritually, we need to inform our minds.  Commit to some reading.  The biggies are the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Bible.

But we don’t have to stop there.

We can tone specific areas.  Do we need to learn more about the Eucharist?  The Blessed Virgin Mary?  Do we need to read about marriage or parenting?

Here’s a quick list of spiritual reading I love and recommend.  Start here or pick your own!

Endurance Training:

If you want to run a marathon, you need some serious endurance.

You don’t want to be ready to pass out after the first mile.  So you practice running long lonnnnggg distances.  You make sure your body can get going and keep going.

We’ve got what we need for spiritual endurance: the Holy Eucharist.

Every time we go to Mass and receive Jesus in the Eucharist, He gives us the strength we need to fight the battles, to run the races in our daily lives.

At the end of every Mass, the priest says:

Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.

He sends us out into the world to run that race.  We take off at a run and bring the Gospel to others.  That’s a big responsibility!

But Jesus in the Eucharist is our strength.

He gives us the endurance we need.  We can’t do this without Him.  If you need help making it through this day, this week, without passing out or forfeiting the race, get to Mass.  Receive Holy Communion.

Jesus will get you through it!

Don’t forget to rest:

Pulled muscles.

Twisted ankles.

Torn ACLs.

There are so many types of sport-induced injuries you can get when you overwork yourself.  Your body needs rest to heal and recover.  If you don’t give it rest, you will end up hurt.

Your soul needs rest too.

The rest of Eucharistic Adoration.  Find Jesus.  Find the quiet.  You don’t have to say or do anything.  This is not your iron pumping time.  This is your rest time.  Be still and feel His Presence.  Let His love and mercy wash over you.

He will bring peace, healing and renewed strength.


Breathe deep:

Every trainer will remind you: when the workout gets intense, remember to breathe intentionally.

Pull it in.

Push it out.

Move that oxygen through those veins.

We need God’s grace pumping through our veins, coursing through our souls.  Prayer is our spiritual breathing.  During life, when the going gets hard: say a breath of prayer.  All day, every day, pull Him in.

Let Him course through your veins.  Pray.

Do It Now:

Grab your Spiritual Fitness Program printable and plan your workout routine for this week.  Make sure you include a healthy mix of weight lifting, toning, endurance training, and rest.

Spiritual Workout Sample

The Spiritual Diet

Every good fitness program comes with a diet.

Not a “don’t-eat-anything-because-you’re-too-fat” diet.  A plan.  Eat good foods.  Healthy foods.  Vitamin, nutrient, energy –rich foods.  You are what you eat.

What are you feeding your body?


What are you feeding your soul? 

Everything you take in: books, blogs, music, TV shows, Facebook threads.  It’s all part of your spiritual diet.  You need to feed yourself good things.  Healthy things.  Is your spiritual diet healthy?

It’s time to make a menu.

Here are some favorites on my spiritual menu:

Catholic blogs:

Catholic audio:

Catholic videos:

  • Usually I get DVDs from my pastor, but this streaming site looks pretty cool!
  • Search Fr. Mike Schmitz on YouTube.
  • You could toss on kids’ movies. EWTN has a great selection, and Veggie Tales are always a go-to option.

Catholic books:

  • See the toning suggestions (above). These books can do double duty for toning and diet!

Do It Now:

Go back to your Spiritual Fitness Program printable and make a meal plan for the week.  Remember to feed your soul healthy sights and sounds.

Spiritual Fitness sample 2.png
Spiritual Diet Sample

Set Goals

Athletes set goals.

Short term goals, long term goals.

They set the bar high and they work their butts off to reach it.

We need to set vocational goals too.  Don’t be afraid to set the bar high: our goal is sainthood.

But holiness doesn’t happen all at once.

When we have our long term goal in sight, we can work on our small goals daily.  We can take little steps to grow closer to the version of ourselves we want to become.

Every day, we can do one thing to be a better spouse, a better parent, to live our vocation more fully.  And over time, we will look back and see just how far we’ve come.

Holiness is a journey.

The race isn’t won until we’re in Heaven!  While we’re here on earth, we have work to do.

So set your long term goal: become a saint.

And set your short term goals: practical things to work on every day that will help you run the race your vocation calls you to.

Let’s brainstorm some goals to help us achieve holiness in our daily life:

  • reconnect with my spouse
  • monthly date night with my spouse
  • weekly family day
  • read to my kids
  • play with my kids
  • cook dinner three times a week
  • keep up on the laundry
  • weekly screen-time fast
  • weekly game night
  • volunteer at a soup kitchen

Do it now:

Your goals will look different from mine.  Brainstorm 7 to 10 goals that will help you live your vocation to the fullest.  Then grab your Spiritual Fitness Program printable and schedule those goals into your week.

Vocation Goals Sample

You did it!

You wrote yourself a Spiritual Fitness Program!  Hang it on your fridge or next to your desk to remind you to follow the plan every day.

Your life doesn’t need to look like one big Pinterest Fail.

You’re going to run this race.

And through the grace of God you’re going to win.

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2 thoughts on “Run so as to Win: A Spiritual Fitness Program

  1. I am so not a “list” person – lists feed my anxiety. But, this was a great article, filled with some awesome ideas for introspection, and to get the most out of Lent (or, Nineveh 90 even).

    Great suggestions and ideas!


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