On The Run

Running: The Ultimate Metaphor For Life

I haven’t had the best luck with marathons! The three I’ve trained for have been postponed or cancelled a few weeks from Race Day. When my last one was cancelled, I made the hasty decision to run the distance as planned. But a few days later, I changed my mind – it’s simple, I still wanted the full package – the support from the crowds, the camaraderie of strangers and friends chasing the same goal, and of course, the medal. So even as my head was bravely saying “Yes” my heart was shouting a resounding “No”. And you can’t run 42.2km without your heart.

But today I want to discuss some key life lessons from the 30km runs I did this training cycle. This was the furthest I’d ever run in my life and it makes me immensely proud to have done it three times – even with a bruised ego and some swear words dotted along the way.

Five Key Life Lessons From Endurance Running

Respect The Distance. I remember the first time I ran 30km. I got to 15km and thought, “I’ve got this!” Fast forward a few more kilometres and I was struggling, cursing the day I became a runner. The second time I ran it, I slowed things down. Although I spent longer on the road, I finished stronger. The third time I unknowingly chose a hilly route. Needless to say, it was very tough but I finished. Sometimes when you’re struggling in life – not at the place you want to be or feeling that you haven’t accomplished A, B or C, you need to remember that the journey is long. Success won’t happen overnight, you need to have patience and appreciate that no matter how well prepared you are, life goals, just like 30km runs, need time on the road.

Break The Journey Into Chunks. Okay, don’t laugh – but 30km for me is ten 3km runs, six 5km runs, five 6km runs, four 7.5km runs, three 10km runs and two 15km runs. 30km sounds so daunting but as soon as I break it up it feels manageable. Each milestone gives me a sense of achievement. This neat trick applies to life as well. When you’re overwhelmed with a project, break it up into milestones and remember to celebrate each small win.

Don’t Give Up. There’s always a point in my long runs where I question why I’m doing this – what the whole point is? For my third 30km run, this came at the 18km mark. I wanted to cry. By the time I got to 22km, I could feel my skin burning under the intense sun and although my legs felt okay, my mind was near collapse. The excuses started: You’ve done 22 already, surely that’s enough? Besides it’s too hot. Digging deep, I remembered Dean Karnazes’ famous words, “Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.” I started walking. Soon I felt strong to run again. Walk, run, walk, run, until the finish. Again, this translates to so many situations in life. Slow down when you have to, take a break, and then get it done.

You Are Stronger Than You Think. Before I ran my first 30km, I doubted myself so much. Have I done enough? I struggle with 25, so is 30 even possible? But I did it. That 30km run made me appreciate how strong my body and mind are. I was more confident for the next 30km run. I knew I had done it before and could do it again. Let’s get back to life – how many times do you doubt yourself? Or tell yourself something is “impossible”? How many times do you start your sentences with “I can’t because…” You are so much stronger than you realise – so don’t limit yourself or tell yourself you can’t do something before you’ve even tried.

Your Mind Needs Training Too! In my first 30km run, I relied on Ditiro to keep me going. When I was tired, he was there to tell me to stay strong. But people won’t always be there to tell you that. It’s important to build your mental game. Like a muscle, it needs to be exercised. That’s why it was important for me to run my second 30km alone. And when I started struggling on my third one, I was able to draw on that will power. Back to life, it’s so important to keep putting yourself in uncomfortable situations – all this is practice for when you’re faced with a tough challenge. And that’s not to say it won’t be messy, but you’ll get through it.

Running is such a metaphor for life. In this post, the author comments that “The best–and worst–thing about running is that you will never master it. You will never be perfect at it.” Just like life. Running comes with good and bad runs, great achievements and crushing disappointments. Life has the most incredible moments but not without its challenges – but these experiences help to shape and mould us. Just as we celebrate our happy moments, we have to embrace those times that test us. Fall – learn – grow – keep moving forward.

What other parallels can you draw between life and running? Do you break your runs into chunks? What’s your favourite mantra on the road?

Excited to be linking up with My First 5K and MoreRunning With AttitudeRun Laugh Eat PieRuns with Pugs, and Zenaida for FIT FIVE FRIDAY! 

22 thoughts on “Running: The Ultimate Metaphor For Life

  1. This is sooo true.

    I always say that every run is hard. Every race is hard. Just like life. They are full of challenges both expected and unexpected. We will never be perfect at either. Running or Life. We just do our best.

    I always tell myself that I CAN do hard things. I am stronger than I think. Never give up.

    You will conquer that marathon. It will be tough but you will be better after than before – mentally and physically,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You beat me to this post. About 2 days ago I ran my usual 6km route, but I literally struggled every step of the way. Nothing was wrong physically at all, but I battled mentally just to complete my run. As you noted, the mind is a powerful thing and the comparisons you made to life are spot on.

    One of my mantras when I run (especially up hills in Joburg) is looking for a tree or a road that may be 100m or 200m ahead and use that as my target. After making it to that one, then I pick another target…

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the personal experience you’ve shared. That’s exactly it. You can be flying that 6km one day, feel uplifted in every way, but if the head is not in the game, it can be the exact opposite experience. Picking a target that’s not too far away is such a useful trick! Thanks for your positive feedback! 😁


  3. Yes! I break my long runs into chunks as well. When I’m at 25k and have 5k more to go, I think of one of my 5k routes and remind myself how easily I usually run it. Surely I can run a 5k?

    Another thing I do is thinking of how I will feel afterwards, once the long run (or another difficult task) is finished. Chasing that feeling of accomplishment can be quite rewarding. πŸ™‚

    I hope your next marathon will actually happen, Shathiso! Any plans for 2022?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Chasing that feeling is such a great motivator too! And often thinking of the moment I’ll get to take off my shoes and remove my hydration pack also helps! 🀣

      We are all set for Addo in 2022. Race numbers were successfully deferred so I think come what may we will be there. But no other plans as yet 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sorry that the marathon keeps eluded you — but you KNOW you will do it! I also think it’s wise to wait until you can have a real marathon experience.

    I was lucky, I guess, that when I chose to run an 18 mile race, my wise coach had me train for a half, then just do one 15 mile run and one 17 mile run (I think the 17 mile run was supposed to be 16, but I wanted the extra confidence booster). So much easier than training for a marathon!

    Running is almost always a challenge, and that’s one of the things I actually love about running. Except sometimes in the middle of a very challenging run or race, LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so happy I changed my mind – I want the real thing and to be able to call myself a marathoner with a medal! That plus just the whole experience that goes with it.

      Marathon training is tough and that’s why I want to get that marathon over and done with, so I can forever focus on my real love – Half Marathons! I need it out of my system! LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I definitely break my long runs into smaller chunks, too. I have so many routes, of varying distances, it’s easy to run each of them (in some capacity) all on the same day LOL I do most of my long runs with my friend, Barb, which is kind of a Catch-22…it’s great for the conversation and mojo, but we typically don’t run side-by-side come race day. When I trained for Marine Corps (in 2019), I had several long runs on my own because she wasn’t doing a marathon that year. It was a nice challenge to do some of those miles solo…just to prove to myself that I could do hard things πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  6. this is very true! I also break up my long runs in my head and when I was doing my half a few weeks ago, I kept doing the math to see what percentage done I was. If I was doing a full marathon, I would also want the full package that a live race brings. I hope you get it one day!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love this post — all of this is so true!

    I also break my long runs up into shorter distances – this trick also helped me to mentally get through my marathon. I know it’s hard to wait, but I’m glad you decided to hold out for all the bells and whistles. Your first marathon should be special!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Absolutely yes to every single word of this! Running has helped me so much in other areas of my life. Not only do I break my long runs into chunks, but when I have something daunting to do in real life I break it into chunks the same way. Sometimes I’ll use my running mantras for life situations. Running and life are definitely intertwined.
    Well, we’re all rooting for you to finally run that marathon! It will happen. And it will be extra sweet when it does!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They are so intertwined Jenny! I am so thankful for the gift of running – when I started running, I never imagined just how much I needed it and the impact it would have in all aspects of my life. So glad it has done the same for you too!


  9. These are great takeaways and yes, it’s so true: running is a lot like life – ups and downs, triumphs and losses, but in the end, worth it!


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