Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Marathon of Life

On September 14 I accomplished one of my lifelong goals and ran a marathon.

I have lots of thoughts and insights that come from preparing for and actually accomplishing a life goal--which you can read about in my upcoming book--but let me share just quickly here.

As I watched people (lots) go by me in the starting miles (and happily only a few in the finishing ones) of the 26.2 mile journey I kept saying two things to myself--

1. This is a marathon not a sprint!
2. Run your race.

It occurs to me that life is exactly like a marathon except for one key difference--we don't know where our finish line actually is. We know it's out there but cannot measure how long we are actually going to be running this thing.

I was able to "pace" myself throughout the race with mile markers along the way that told me how far I had come and I quickly calculated how much further I had to run--seems like that was what I cared about most (are we there yet?!). This critical knowledge allowed me to gauge my strength and calibrate my effort to ensure I would have enough gas in the tank to finish--and believe me that was my only goal this time, to finish.

But in life, even though we mark our time on earth with birthdays we simply don't know how long our race will be. Given that inconvenience (or challenge?) it becomes difficult if not impossible to know how hard to work each day to pace ourselves and not burn out.

Or does it? Just as a marathon race has aid stations along the way with water, fluids, fruit, gels, first aid personnel, etc. (and trust me these aid stations become increasingly welcome and necessary as the race wore on) we have aid stations along our mararthon of life that perhaps we race by too often: friends, faith, exercise, vacations, quiet time.

So what?! What does this mean? What do we do to ensure we finish our race with a personal best performance?

Make life more about making the most of the mile we are currently running and not worry about the next ones. Make it more about who we want to be and what we want to accomplish than worrying about when we will do it. And given the uncertainty of how much time we have to finish our race we best be looking at each day as the extraordinary opportunity it is and enjoy it by simply getting out there and moving!