We often hear the quote, "Life is a Marathon - Not a Sprint". I've thought a lot about this quote recently, and I'm not sure people realize how true it is. Here are Eight ways that living life is more analogous to the endurance model of a marathon than the speed model of a sprint.
1. During a sprint, it's all about speed - if you don't go as fast as you can, right out of the blocks, you are most likely finished - and will be lucky to place at all. While a marathon, and life, are all about pacing yourself, making sure you have something left when you hit the wall. You need to realize that no matter how good you feel right this second, the next step might bring another ache and pain, or take it away.
2. In a Sprint, there is no room for mistakes - you make one mistake, and you are out of the race. While a marathon, just as in life, you will make mistakes - unforeseen hiccups that will cause you to have to flex ever so slightly from you plan, but as long as you are still running, you are still in the race. It's only when you fall and refuse to get back up, that the race is over for you.
3. When you are standing at the Starting Block in a Sprint, you can see the finish line - but in a marathon and in life, the finish line is no where to be seen. We can visualize it, imagine it in our head, but we don't see it until we are very near the end, when there is little chance to change the course of who we have been.
4. In a Marathon, you have to love the process of running as much as desiring the finish line. But in a Sprint - it all happens so fast, you don't even have to really want it to compete and complete.
5. In a Sprint, it all comes down to muscle strength - and has little to do with strength of character. Where as in a marathon, muscle strength is important, but not nearly as important and will, determination, and drive. Life is the same - it's not the strongest and the smartest that find their way at the top of the heap - but instead its the ones that are truly committed to their dreams and have a passion for living that reach the goals.
6. Sprints are almost always run on a level man-made track with little difference from one event to the next. Conversely marathons vary greatly in terrain and elevation variation. No matter how much you think your life is going to be smooth sailing, there is always a storm on the horizon - don't fret over it, but plan for problems and be prepared to deal with them, as they come.
7. In a Sprint, all that matters is winning - it's all about results. However, running in a marathon is as much about the process of training and running as it is about where you finish. Life is no different. If you are living for the finish line, you will miss out on the day-to-day joys of life. Absolutely, you want to have goals and strive to reach them, but make sure you choose a path that you love, or you will most likely never get there.
8. A Sprint is a competition against others while a marathon is a competition against your own abilities. Life isn't about beating anyone else - it's about doing your best - and trying to do a little bit better each step of the way. Don't get caught up in "keeping up with the Joneses", you will rarely find happiness in that path.