“Life is a marathon, not a sprint” – That’s exact sentence, I got told twice during the exact first 2 weeks I started my job in consulting.
Of course, what my colleagues referred to, is: you still have a long time to go, so take a breath and make sure you have energy left for the rest of the run. Now, As you might know, I’m currently training for the Strongmanrun, which is an 18k obstacle run here in Switzerland. To prepare myself, I’m doing a half-marathon running scheme. And it got me thinking.
Life really is a marathon. Or let’s say, our life is a run towards a certain end-goal. To get there, you should be effective and efficient, making sure you have enough energy for the entire run.
Now let me guide you through the lessons I’ve learned from the above quote and my running experience so far.
- Know what you are training for. It’s sounds obvious, but make sure you know what you are training for. Know what you are going for. You cannot adopt an apt scheme, nor can you work towards your goal if you don’t know what your goal is. It’s like you would start cycling every day and prepare for a cycling competition and then in the end realize you actually wanted to run a marathon. You might kill it for your cycling trainings. But it’s not the right training. You’re not working towards your goal.
- Think long-term and run those slow runs. To train for the Strongmanrun, I bought myself a heart rate monitor with a polar (thank you Mr Boyfriend for the hours of research) so I can follow my own personalized training scheme. I was expecting plenty of interval training – with sprints. Turns out half of the trainings are steady state trainings. Which actually entails running incredibly slow under a certain heart rate. And I can tell you. It sucks. You wake up early full of energy for a 1 hour run in the cold… but you have to stay under a heart rate of 140, which forces you to run super slow and even walk bits in between –in the cold. What makes it even worse, is that you see people watching you running with the speed of a turtle – and you’re just thinking: “they must think I’m world’s worst runner”. The same is true for life. Sometimes we have to think more long-term. Think what are actually the steps we have to take to come to our goal – and if that includes a “slow run”, then you should do it. Don’t rush things. Train for endurance and not for speed. And when you’re taking a step back for that purpose, it doesn’t matter what people around you are thinking.
- Take steps EVERY SINGLE DAY. By saying you should “take a step back sometimes”, I do not intent to say you have to just “take it easy”. On the contrary. Being able to run a marathon requires you to train and to take wise decisions every day – to basically take small steps towards that marathon every day. You should attach to a training scheme and to eat right. But it won’t help you to run sprints every single day. Your body needs the rest to recover. Otherwise, you over-train and you won’t make it to the finish line -ever. The same is true for life. Do not sprint every day. Take a breath and make sure you figure out what are the steps you should take and take them. Running a marathon requires perseverance.
- It takes an awful lot of practise. You can’t run a marathon after one month of practise. Even if you train every day. So take your time. And remember – do not sprint every single day, because you will not make it to the finish line.
- You might hurt yourself, but you should give it some rest and get back up. You might hurt yourself – in many ways. Identify what went wrong and take responsibility for it, so you avoid another injury in the future. And get back up.
- Surround yourself with the right people. You need to surround yourself with the right people to make it to the end. If you run with people that decide to give up half-way, then chances are higher, you’ll give up too. Surround yourself with people that are motivated as you to get there. Run with people that don’t hold you back, but motivate you and that understand or even share your dreams. And make sure you have the best people on the side to support you.
- Do not compare yourself to others. I used to get very frustrated whenever I went running with my boyfriend – because every single time it reminded me of the fact that I’m not a born runner. I stopped doing it and started looking at the progress I made/I’m making and it’s just fantastic. In November, my Fitbit indicated my “cardio fitness level” was average for a woman my age – a few weeks ago, it went up to “good”. Can’t wait for the “very good” to pop up on the screen.
- Enjoy it. A marathon is a long run. The moment you get at the finish, is probably unforgettable –but I’m pretty sure that the feeling of achievement does not solely result from that exact moment. It’s the result of all the hours you put in. In a way, the feeling resonates this and all the memories that go with it. So enjoy the ride, look around see all the wonderful things that surround you. Be grateful that you have those 2 legs running for you and treat your body well.
Now, it’s time for this little lady to recover from today’s run, go to bed and take some rest.