Yesterday, I ran 10K in around seven minutes faster than I have done over the past year, including six of the ten kilometres at a (sustained!) sub-5-minute pace. Encouragement along the route helped. Needing to pee from before the start, and being determined not to stop to use any of the port-a-loos on the way, may have helped. But what really made it possible was the kilometres run in training, with my club, including far more experienced runners, and under the direction of a great coach overseeing regular track sessions.
Yesterday, I also composed three short sermons ‘on the hoof,’ each in about the time it takes me to run a kilometre. The key is the same, but whereas I have been running through Sunderland for about six years, I have been covering the ground of the Bible for forty-nine. (There remains a lot of room for improvement, in my running and in my proclaiming the gospel, but I have a significant head start in the latter.) My advice to almost anyone starting out in the skill, and discipline, of preaching is, spend less time focussing on the event of any particular sermon preparation, and set apart more time to the training it stands or falls on—to immersing yourself in the story, attending to the lives of those who will hear, learning from others who do it well.
(Oh, and when it comes to delivering a sermon, the needing to pee thing may help, which is why vicars, at least, train our bladders with more tea.)