No doubt you’ve heard the phrase, its a marathon not a sprint. The analogy fits in many different contexts, shorthand for you’re in for a long haul. Well what the world is facing in the corona virus is a marathon. Its a marathon that no one registered for, but which we’re all entered into regardless. As we collectively struggle to find and reach the finish line, its we, as runners, who can use the lessons of training and racing 26.2 miles to lead and offer perspective for those who have never participated in such an endeavor. We are endurance athletes. We’re built for this.
Endurance – noun: the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress or other adverse conditions; stamina
As any marathoner will tell you, the road is paved with bumps and obstacles. Its accepted, built into our psyches. There will come a point when your mind says stop. But you must continue. The corona virus brings plenty of adverse conditions: lockdowns, mass unemployment, uncertainty, sickness, even death. Regular life as we know it has fundamentally changed. It would be easy to let such conditions paralyze you. To stop. Let fear win the day. But you don’t finish a marathon by quitting when challenge arises. Instead you persevere – and the reason you can is because you prepared and adapted.
The world’s marathon is no different. Race day is the end of a journey. Its the culmination of many weeks and months of hard work. Along the winding road to the start line you spend hours each day, building fitness and strength. Week by week you grow your stamina. The weekend long run starts at 8, 9, 10 miles till eventually you’re running 18, 19, 20 miles at a time. As the weeks pass and training continues, your body learns how to deal with each new challenge. Its tested, then it learns and adapts. Over time there are physiological changes. On a cellular level you are transformed. By the time you show up to the start line, you are armed with a plan, ready for whatever pitfalls might lie ahead and committed to putting one foot in front of the other until you cross that finish line.
The world’s marathon is not the race you had on your calendar for this spring. But it is the race of our lifetimes. To endure, we must prepare and adapt. In doing so we will call upon the skills that are second nature in marathon training. Concentrating on both the immediate and the distant future. We will certainly be tested along the way. For it is only through testing that you learn. So we must continue ticking off one mile at a time, not knowing exactly when the urge to quit will come, but knowing that no matter what the future holds, we have the strength to carry on.
Let’s use what we know best to inform our decision making in these difficult days and keep ourselves in the best shape for the challenges that lie ahead.