Today wasn’t just another Monday in the Boston area. It was Marathon Monday. As I drove to work in the rain, I thought about the dedicated runners braving the weather to face the grueling course. While I’ve never been a runner, I applaud their dedication both in the months leading up to the race as well as the incredible effort they put forth today.

Lately I’ve been reminded that sometimes life feels a lot like a marathon. If life has been challenging you too, I hope this list encourages you.

6 things we all need to remember when life feels like a marathon.

1. The race is intentional.

It would be extremely unlikely to accidentally run a marathon. While I once heard a story of someone who intended to run a half marathon but made a mistake and ended up on the full marathon route, I think we can all agree, runners intentionally pursue marathons. Signing up, training, creating a race day plan are all intentional efforts that propel the runner to the finish line.

In life, we need to be intentional about the choices we make, the goals we pursue, and ultimately the life we live. Life is an intentional race. Don’t allow your journey to unfold accidentally like the runner on the wrong course. Choose your focus and be intentional.

2. Self-talk is fuel.

Let’s face it, a 26 mile marathon gives a runner a lot of thinking time. What a racer says to themselves matters. In a race such as the Boston Marathon, hills late in the course can torment weary runners. During this section it’s important for them to stay focused and continue to encourage themselves.

If you could encourage a runner on the infamous Heartbreak Hill, you’d tell them they’re almost there. You’d remind them to dig deep because there’s not that much more to go. The same way you’d encourage a runner is the same way you need to encourage yourself when life feels all uphill or gives you a Heartbreak Hill of your own to deal with. Keep going. It will get better. Don’t stop here! What you say to yourself will be fuel that propels you or an anchor that holds you back. Choose words carefully – especially the ones no one else knows you say to yourself.

3. Pain is temporary.

Marathon runners do not escape preparation, training, and race day pain free. Blisters, pulled muscles, spasms, and other injuries happen. From the most novice runners to the elite champions, pain will be part of the journey. Runners push through the pain because they know it’s temporary.

In life, we’ll deal with aches and pains of our own. Whether they’re physical, emotional, or spiritual, we will not escape the journey of life pain free. But, just like a runner knows the pain is temporary, we must remind ourselves that this too shall pass.

4. Recovery is part of the race.

Rest and recovery are part of a runner’s journey. After race day comes recuperation. Life is no different. We run our daily race and need to remember that some days are our rest and recovery days. Allow your mind, body, and spirit recovery days that allow you to regroup and recharge before the next leg of your life’s race.

5. The race is run one step at a time.

Every race from a 5K to a marathon is run one step at a time. Persistence is required. Tenacity is essential. Whether a runner is fresh on the course, struggling on a hill, or nearing the finish line, progress requires taking one step after the next. Sometimes life has a way of discouraging us. We want to curl up right where we are. Progress feels impossible. But, just like a marathon, the race of life is run one step after the next. Take the next step. Don’t give up! You don’t have to have it all figured out… just take the very next step.

6. Stories are worth celebrating.

One of my favorite things about the Boston marathon each year is hearing the personal stories of triumph. People come from all over the world with stories as varied as the number runners. The personal trials and moving stories of overcoming great challenges are incredibly inspirational. There’s power in our personal stories. We don’t need to be elite athletes or marathon runners to use our stories to make a difference. When you share your story with others, you remind yourself of your past victories, you remember how far you’ve come, you remember the incredible answers to prayer that you’ve received, and, you inspire others to continue to face their fears and overcome their challenges. Be open to sharing your story and allowing God to use it to bless others.

It’s your turn:

When life feels more like a marathon than a walk in the park, be encouraged. Don’t get stuck looking at the entire course all at once… focus on the next step. Did this post encourage you? I would love to hear from you. Click and comment and let me know which of these you needed to hear or need to remember.  And, if this has encouraged you, why not click to share? So many people are dealing with very real struggles and maybe this could share a bit of hope for their marathon.

Until next time friend, be blessed!

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