On Saturday I ran and completed the Kiawah Island Marathon.  I must be a glutton for punishment because this was actually my 7th marathon.  As I was running on Saturday I was thinking about the parallels between training for a marathon and running the race of life.  Following are a couple of lessons that I’ve learned from my marathon training that also apply to life:

Have a plan and stick to that plan: For a lot of people the idea of running a full marathon (26.2 miles) can be extremely intimidating and seem practically impossible.  I’m convinced that almost anyone can run a marathon though if they’ll have a training plan and then stick to that plan.  The plan that I followed for my marathon training called for me to train for 18 weeks and run 4 times per week.  In week one of the training program, the most mileage that I had to run was 8 miles.  However, by adding mileage on a weekly basis I slowly ramped up to where I was able to do 26.2 miles.  In life, if we want to accomplish great things we have to have a plan.  For me, I have a written life plan that articulates what I want to accomplish and how I’m going to accomplish it.  The plan consists of 10 different areas that are important to me:  spiritual development, marriage, fatherhood, ministry, relationships, career, personal growth, recreation, financial and health.  Do you have a plan?  If so, are you following that plan and doing what you need to do on a daily basis?

Accountability keeps me consistent: I would not have completed this marathon without having a running partner.  Thankfully I had the opportunity to train and run this marathon with a very good friend of mine, Trey Brush (http://runonpurpose.com/).  During our training program we ran in intense heat, rain and bitter cold weather.  There were a number of days that the last thing I wanted to do was to go for a long run; however, I knew that Trey was waiting on me and the last thing that I wanted to do was to let him down.  Accountability is necessary for each of us to be the best version of ourselves.  In areas outside of running I have a friend Scott who is my accountability partner.  He has the freedom to ask me direct questions about how I’m doing in any area of my life.  We celebrate life’s victories together as well as walk alongside each other in life’s difficult seasons.  Do you have an accountability partner in your life?  If so, are you meeting with each other frequently?  Do you have the freedom to ask each other the tough questions?

It’s about mind over matter: Running a marathon is painful.  If you can’t handle physical and mental discomfort then a marathon is not for you.  I remember the first time that I ran 11 miles in this training program.  The last 3 miles of that run were brutal; I didn’t think that I could even finish 11 miles but I wouldn’t allow myself to quit and just took one more step at a time.  I came to realize that every time I added mileage the last 3 – 4 miles would hurt but if I would just keep pushing through the pain I could finish and the next time add even more mileage.  In training Trey and I got up to 22 miles.  On race day guess what?  The last 4 miles still hurt but I had already built up the mental endurance to not let myself quit. 

Today I’m battling a pulled muscle and a painful back.  My running mate Trey has the most disfigured looking toenail that I think that I’ve ever seen.

But do you know what makes it all worth it?

This medal and knowing that I accomplished a goal together with a dear friend of mine.

I know this isn’t news to you but life can be painful.  You’re going to face challenges and obstacles in the pursuit of your goals.  The successful people are energized by the challenges and refuse to quit while everyone else shirks back from the pain and difficulties.  What challenge or obstacle are you currently facing?  Are you tempted to quit?  What will keep you motivated to keep pressing on?

Maybe this blog post will inspire a handful of you to run a marathon one day.  Way more importantly though I hope this post inspires you to develop a plan and stick to that plan, to have an accountability partner and to be mentally tough as you strive to attain your goals in life.  I look forward to hearing your stories on how you live out these principles as well as other parallels that you can find from running a marathon and running the race of life.

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