Between all the miles logged in training (i.e. time to think) and the fact that Hubby and I recently celebrated our seven year anniversary, I’ve been noticing some parallels between marathoning and marriage.
If you look at it as a race – not in the competitive sense, but in wanting to have a rewarding and successful journey – many of us get caught up in the ‘start.’ We struggle because ‘we’re young,’ ‘we don’t have any money’ or [insert whatever excuse here]. Truth be told, that’s a sprinter’s take on the subject when what would serve us better is more of a marathoner’s mentality.
See, sprinters know that the start is a critical element because time is of the essence when there’s little ground to cover; there’s no room for error. But marathons, on the other hand, are just the opposite. Even with a rocky start, we have the luxury of time to bounce back and ultimately have a great race.
Why? Because it’s not the start that’s important; it’s the endurance.
That change in focus can empower partners for ‘the long haul’ when it comes to pushing through conflicts without hitting the proverbial wall and quitting. No, there are no quick fixes to either marathons or marriage (and neither are painless!)…but I think we’d all agree that the potential reward is worth all the effort.
Now, I’m by no means an expert at either marathoning or marriage…but I thought I’d share a few of the nuggets of running wisdom that I believe just may translate into more moments of wedded bliss.
1. Have a goal in mind.
Just as we choose races to stay motivated, it can help to set milestones for your marriage. Having common goals help both parties to get on the same page, and having something to work toward keeps you moving forward rather that getting stuck in a rut.
2. You get out what you put in.
If we want to get technical here, pretty much anyone who wants to do a marathon could probably cover 26.2 miles, but for the best possible experience, it’s smart to prepare properly. This means putting in the work up front to reap the rewards on the back end. There’s something to be said for a little hard work, dedication and delayed gratification – that means sticking to a training plan and putting some real effort into figuring out what it takes to whip your relationship into shape, as well.
3. Run your own race.
The most critical piece of racing advice is to not start out too quickly. Trying to keep pace with faster runners will only bite you in the behind in the second half of the race when you burn through your energy stores and hit the wall with a thud. The same can be said for marriage; just as every body is different, so is every union, so you’ve got to work toward your own personal best…not someone else’s.
4. Pace yourself.
If you’ve set a goal and trained toward it, it’s important to check in at regular intervals during the race to make sure you’re moving along steadily. The same goes for marriage. It’s not about showing your partner how much you love them in fits and spurts with the occasional grand gesture, but committing to treat each other well year-round because the little things really do add up.
5. Prepare for peaks & valleys.
For as many moments of triumph, there will be the inevitable time in the trenches. If you think you’re immune, you’re only fooling yourself, so it’s best to go in with a realistic approach and an open mind. Knowing that there will be ups and downs in your relationship will allow you to approach both with a good head on your shoulders. That way, you and your partner can ride the highs, work through the lows and realize that it’s all part of the experience – and not indicative of the final outcome.
6. Work through the wall.
It may be inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be fatal. Again, being aware of (and having a healthy respect for) the wall will help inform your plan of attack if/when it rears it’s ugly head. Instead of getting blindsided, throwing your hands up in the air and giving up, you’ll realize that sometimes it just takes a little extra push to work though what feels like hell – and that you may just come out better for it on the other side.
7. Rejoice in the journey.
Finally, in racing and in life, it’s all what you make of it. Having a sense of humor and not taking yourself too seriously (after all, I don’t expect to win a marathon…or a marriage-of-the-year award), helps keep things in perspective. One day, you’ll look back and realize that even though 26.2 miles – or whatever rough patch you may have been going though at the time – felt like it would never end, it was only a small segment in the grand scheme of your life.
What running wisdom do you apply to your relationships?