Life is not a Marathon


“People like to say life is a marathon, not a sprint,
but it’s actually more like a track workout.
We run hard and then rest hard.
We charge a hill and then chug some Gatorade.
We do some stairs, then some 200s, and then a few 400s.
In between, we rest.”

–Kevin DeYoung

I learned something interesting while doing research on unhurried living… elite athletes practice a rhythm called “periodization” — which means they give as much priority to rest and recovery as they do to practice and competition. 

I decided to apply this rhythm and give priority to my rest and refreshment this week. I left my normal surroundings for a few days and traveled to a place where I could enjoy God’s creation; I spent memory-building time with special people and took more time to read than normal.

This is not easy for me to do. I often feel guilty for taking time off. There is a age-old condemnation inside of me that says “work is good, rest is bad” (more about that later).

Thankfully, I have enjoyed running over the last few years, so I understand the idea of rest being important – even essential – to athletes. I could not run every single day or I would injure myself or burn out. I needed to care for my diet, my sleep, and my emotional state in order to run regularly.

I also understand the need for variety in the pace and activities of my workout. I alternated distances on different days and mixed in stretching, cycling, walking, and strength-building exercises as part of my well-being routine. That rhythm kept me healthy and helped me look forward to running.

This week, I am stronger, more energized, and more motivated because of the time I took to rest and recover.

Periodization is essential for athletes. It is essential for unhurried living also.


Think about your next week as a workout. How can you adjust your schedule to ensure you “run the stairs”, get refreshment, and also rest?

running for my life

runner free digital photo Sura Nualpradid
My birthday caused me to consider how to best invest the next years of my life. Often good physical health contributes to reaching other dreams, so I got motivated to lose some weight and increase my running routine.

In the process, I learned about reaching other life goals!

  • Getting better takes time – I am not a patient person; I prefer instant results. However, I am learning to persevere and trust the process. There were weeks when I wouldn’t lose one pound, and I wanted to give up, but if I kept doing the right things, I would finally see the weight drop. I often want to quit in other areas of life also – habits I can’t break, changes I can’t make, or relationships that aren’t working like I want. If I stop trying, I guarantee not getting better… but if I give it time, doing the right things, I just might get results!
  • Getting better takes hard work – I have never really liked to run. For me it is just plain discipline. Some days I feel pretty good; some days my feet feel like lead. Often, if I push through the first discomforts, I start to feel better and go farther than I initially thought I could. No great athlete achieves success without consistent practice, lots of sweat, and often pain. Neither will I get better – personally or professionally – without intentional effort. I have found that an honest evaluation (like a 360) and a personal development plan, accompanied by a coach or mentor, can help me grow and improve. 
  • Plan for hard days and easy days – A training plan allows for “pushing for distance” days and rest days. Going all-out every day will inevitably lead to injury and burnout. Life is similar. There are days when I have to give more than I have to handle a conflict, help someone, or get something done on time, and there are days when I need to rest. Without the rest, I don’t have the energy needed for the tough times, and I am resentful and tired. When I am regularly refreshed and rejuvenated, I have the stamina and strength to give the extra effort – even when it’s hard.
  • I am unique –  My husband can eat a lot more calories than I can and still lose weight. But, I am not my husband, and my weight-loss plan is not the same as his. Nor is my exercise plan the same as his… nor is my life plan the same as his! I need to stop comparing – and complaining(!) – and figure out what will work for me. Often I want to “cut and paste” someone else’s gifts or abilities or experience into my life, but God has a singular, individual plan for me. 
  • Getting better gets harder – Many people can run one mile or lose a few pounds. On the other hand, keeping weight off or running a marathon is much more challenging. As much I as would like to have earned an easy road due to past accomplishments, that is not how real life works. Instead, the older I am, the more responsibility I get, the more leadership I take on… the harder it is to get better! There is no “downhill” slide. It will always be “uphill”, and I don’t want that truth to surprise or discourage me.
What are principles that help you reach your goals?