I completed my second marathon a couple weeks ago, and as I reflected on what it took to make it to that finish line, it got me thinking about how life is a marathon. Not a sprint, but a marathon.
The way you train for a marathon, is far different than the way you’d train for a sprint race — such as a 5K race, which generally takes between 20 and 35 minutes to finish. The marathon takes hours to finish, which makes it a true test of endurance. If you try to sprint the marathon, you will, undoubtedly, run out of energy, forcing you to walk, which will likely lead to muscle cramps and ultimately ruining your entire race. The key to finishing a marathon is to maintain a steady and consistent pace, and not taking off full speed at the starting line, like many first-time marathoners do.
This gets me thinking about the parallels between marathon training and life in general. If we are constantly sprinting to the next thing, how will we maintain enough energy to make it very far? The pace of our life should parallel the pace of a marathon: steady and consistent. There are certainly times when the pace may be a bit quicker or slower than normal, because that’s how life works— and marathons work that way, too. At Grandma’s marathon, I had to wait in line for the porta-potty at the 10 mile mark, which caused me to fall back quite a bit from the group I’d been running with. When I was finished, I sprinted for an entire mile to catch up with the pack. I was so out of breath by the time I reached them, that I knew I wouldn’t be able to go any further at that rate — and I still had 16.2 miles to go! So, I slowed down my pace to something I would be able to maintain, and I kept going.
Life is like this too: there are times when we need to pick up the pace, but it’s critical to make sure we catch ourselves and eventually slow back down to a pace that is maintainable. If we don’t, we won’t last long, and something will have to give. In my personal life, it’s very evident to me when I need to slow down the pace of my life. My warning signs include becoming irritable, frustrated and having no desire to do any of the million and one things I am striving to do. When I catch myself at mach nine speed, I take a deep breath, and evaluate my life, which usually includes re-prioritizing and weeding some things out, until I establish a healthy margin again.
Regardless of what life may bring, it’s important to keep moving forward. During a marathon, when your body is throbbing in pain and you feel like you can hardly walk, let alone run, the goal is to keep moving — to always keep moving. You might not be going very fast, but just keep your chin up and press forward. In life, we are always growing, accomplishing and learning. As Philippians 3:14 states, we are to press on toward the goal to receive the heavenly prize in Christ. And as 1 Corinthians 9:24 states, we are to run in such a way to obtain the prize.
My prayer for each of us is that we are able to lead a balanced life, by maintaining a marathon pace, finding peace and steadiness in this chaotic world.