There are really two types of true “runners”: elites, and the rest of us. (Look there, I referred to “runners” as “us”!!)
The elites are the gods among us who manage to run 4 minute miles as easy as we eat our corn flakes in the morning and string together 26 very impressive 5 and 6 minute miles and barely break a sweat. These people breathe running and make a very fine living off of such endeavors.
They enter races and expect to compete to WIN, not just finish, but win. They are finely tuned running machines, and we speak their names in hushed tones: Haile Gebrselassie, Paula Radcliffe, Deena Kastor, Paul Tergat, Robert Cheruiyot and many many more. You recognize them from their pictures and the pattern on the soles of their shoes. When you see these people have signed up for your marathon, you know immediately that 1. You have lost and 2. You are not one of THEM.
I, like most of the people out there running, am not an elite runner. I will likely never, ever win a race that is actually attended by a field of runners without remarkable good fortune. I am racing only the clock, and in my race against the clock I find my metaphors.
Life is a marathon.
My faith is a marathon.
School is a marathon.
Fatherhood is a marathon.
… is a marathon.
And, of course, wisdom
One step at a time.
Remember to breathe.
Preparation is key.
If there’s no risk of failure, it’s not worth doing.
If there any risk of failure, be sure to fail BIG, or not at all!
Know which kind of pain you’re feeling, and address it accordingly.
If the marathon were not a metaphor, these little nuggets of wisdom wouldn’t be applicable to anything except running a marathon.
But of course, even for the gods among us, the marathon is a metaphor.