Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved to run. Throughout middle school, my family lived in a suburban neighborhood; everyone knew me as the girl that ran around every single block… twice. My love for running continued throughout high school and even into college. As an adult, I still love running and racing. But over the past few years, several injuries and illnesses have hampered my ability to train and race as I would like. Constantly frustrated by a few months of good training followed by injuries, I began noticing the similarities between the journey of life and my experience as an athlete.
Endurance running is all about perseverance. I believe distance running has become a fad among people of various demographics and abilities because it’s one sport that doesn’t take much coordination or talent. Almost everyone can run and you don’t have to be fast to be considered “a runner.” When an athlete makes the decision to run a marathon, for example, he or she may have the goal of winning or simply the goal of finishing. Either way, they both want to challenge themselves and compete. The same can be said for the journey of love—everyone is deserving of authentic love, but what that will look like in each person’s life will be different.
Similarly, running, just like life, has its ups and downs. Just as life is exciting when we have significant events occur, running can sometimes be thrilling—like when you compete in a race or set a new personal record. But more often than not, it’s all of those monotonous runs that are the key to success as an athlete. And this is the same as with life. It is in the day-to-day experiences that we develop ourselves and form relationships. If we are constantly seeking thrills and entertainment from our friendships and relationships with family, we will be let down.
As I look back over my life since I became a runner, many things have come and gone, changed for the better and for the worse, and I’ve grown in measurable ways. Through all of the growing pains, my love of running has remained. Even though I’ve had countless doctors and friends tell me to stop running or at least ease up on the intensity, in my head that means “stop persevering” and “give up the fight.” But I have never quit.
In the same way, I believe that real love only comes by way of perseverance. Familial, romantic, and love for friends is a gift that is given, but in order to develop and deepen that love, we have to be willing to fight for it. We cannot give up on it when things are difficult; we can never quit working on it.
Just as life is a winding, unplanned journey, the road to running success doesn’t ever look like I had previously planned. I may not always be able to train as I would like, just like a can’t control when lasting love will come my way. But during seasons of injury, illness, or unexpected life events I recollect, slow down, remain patient and take note of one very important detail: I am not in control; but perhaps that’s the best part.