Life is a marathon, not a race. There so just so much long distance running teaches us. If you are a runner, these should be familiar to you. If you are not a runner, I believe you can still learn something from these lessons.
To start with let me introduce what a marathon is, and marathon distance.
A full marathon is 42.195 kilometres
A half marathon is 21.0975 kilometres
If you are a marathon runner or as marathon runners like to call themselves- a marathon man or a woman, you would know how hard it is. Given the difficulties of marathons, we can learn a lot from them. Life, after all, is a marathon.
My credentials as a runner
So, I have been running for about 10 years. Started slow and never planned to run long distance. I have never been to a gym in my life. Currently, I am 100% fit and healthy despite not being able to give disciplined attention to my food intake. However, never saying never. I may have to hit the gym soon to remove the persistent bulge in my lower belly, which isn’t going, in spite of much effort. Yeah, I have been having beer consistently, which doesn’t help the cause either.
Running is one of the best things to happen to my life. Yeah, it doesn’t pay and I don’t expect it to pay in any way. If it does, well, who doesn’t like money flowing inward? I recently ran my recent half marathon 2 days back. I ran it right after a holiday.
My flight landed at 3:45 and the run started at 7:10. I barely had any time to rest or sleep. This clearly affected the quality of my run and my running time. I managed 1:59 for 21.097 kilometres. I have made peace with myself.
This purpose of this post is to share the lessons I have learnt about life from long distance running. Perhaps some of you will find these useful.
Life is not a race. It’s a marathon
So for beginners, here is the difference between a race and a marathon. Race is a competitive run. The participants in the race are trying to outrace the other. On the other hand, a marathon runner is trying to outrace himself or herself. A marathon runner doesn’t race with others. He races against himself.
So is life. It’s a sad take on life when it is called a rat race. We are not rats and it’s not a race-you are not supposed to race against each other.
Pain is a given– in marathons, and in life
Pain is a given constant. It’s not important. There will be pain. Running isn’t easy. So is life. But that’s not the point. The point is that we have to keep moving forward in spite of the pain because we are doing something that we believe in. The last Sunday, when I was running, I was in consistent physical pain through the run. It generally doesn’t happen, but this time it did.
I told myself so many times that I may not be able to complete the run, forget making it in respectable time. But, I hate stopping in the middle of a run. I did, during the only full marathon I have run because I wasn’t prepared for it. This time, in spite of the pain, I didn’t stop. I slowed down, but I didn’t stop.
We cannot stop. However, to not stop, it’s important that we do work that we believe we are born to do, that we do anything that’s meaningful for us.
Life is in the journey, not the destination
You know, when you complete the run, it feels great. It’s a moment of exhilaration about a logical end to the journey. However, this Sunday at the half marathon, in the 2 hours and 5 minutes of time from the beginning to the end of the marathon, the destination time was all of 5 mins.
Life is lived on the journey. Make sure you choose your journeys wisely. Most of the life will be spent in the journeys you choose for yourself.
Breathe normally, no matter what
Any seasoned long distance runner will tell you, how important running is to the entire process of a run. While I was running, I heard an old man shout out to his gang….
Normal breathing guys….normal breathing
I can’t tell you how important I think this lesson is to life now. I am an impatient guy and so are some people I am close to. This is the lesson that I need to apply to my life-immediately. I will make an effort.
Normal breathing-no matter what happens-means to stay calm and steady, regardless of what is happening.
Running is a meditative exercise. I have never used music so far while I run, because I like to let my thoughts run about. That is meditative, to allow our thoughts to wander and observe them. Running makes the runners fit but that’s just part of the equation and hardly the most important part.
Long distance running is far, far bigger than just about fitness. It is a metaphor for life, and for finding your joy.
Thank you for reading.
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One thought on “Marathon lessons from long distance running”
Brilliantly expressed. Life can’t be explained in a simpler manner than this. Loved reading it. Keep running!