Running – a Metaphor for Life

 Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.” – Oprah Winfrey

On February 14, I ran my first half marathon. It was the Hypothermic Half in Calgary. The temperature was just below zero, and that, apparently, was twenty degrees warmer than last year’s race.

I ran with my husband, a seasoned marathoner, and the fact that he stayed at my pace and ran with me the whole race was his Valentine’s gift to me. OK, I just made that up, but since I didn’t get any chocolates, we’ll say that was my gift. Actually, it was a great experience running with him. He’s always been a good coach on the occasions when I have run with him, pushing me just beyond my comfort zone.

I also ran with friends from the Running Room. We’d been training for this race since November. We met three times a week, rain or shine – or, being winter in Calgary – ice, snow or 20 below.

We ran on days when you’d be crazy to drive on the roads, let alone run on the sidewalks. There was one blizzard I recall very vividly. We were doing our infamous “hill training,” running up and down a hill with snow pelting our eyes and our eyelashes freezing together. Cars passed by, and I could only imagine what the drivers were thinking. “Insanity” and “out of their minds” must have crossed their lips.

We experienced injuries. That seems to be part and parcel of long-distance running. I, myself, suffered from a knee injury. There were a few times when my knee ached so much, I didn’t think I’d be able to run the upcoming half marathon. On those days, a quote from Lance Armstrong kept running through my head – Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever. I remember thinking, even Lance must have a threshold.

I went to a chiropractor who specializes in sports injuries. I stretched, I iced and I took time off from running. Thankfully, the knee healed.

Running is the greatest metaphor for life because you can’t cheat it. Your lack of training, focus and dedication will be revealed one way or another.

A runner’s efforts may culminate on race day, but it’s really about everything it takes to get to the race. It’s really about the countless evenings you’d rather be sitting on the couch, but instead drag yourself out for a run, slowly building your strength, speed and stamina.

If the race is the destination, then training is the journey, and that’s another way that running is a great metaphor for life.

Running is also a way to celebrate milestones. It could be another kilometre added to your furthest distance. It could be shaving off another minute from your best race time. But like anything in life, there’s always room for improvement.

Running used to be a chore for me. As a kid in elementary school, I ran on the cross-country team, and every year when track and field season rolled around, I signed up for the 400-metre race. But I never enjoyed it.

Then as an adult, I ran on my own from time to time, but truth be told, I hated every minute of it.

It wasn’t until I joined my running group about a year ago, that running became something other than a chore. It became a social outlet. When you share common interests, challenges and goals with people, it’s easy to bond.

So, somewhere along the way, I made some wonderful friendships and running stopped being a chore – it became enjoyable time spent with friends.

And after running my half marathon on Sunday, it became something else again. Running 21 kilometres took me to a place where I thought, if I can do this, what else can I do?

Running is a great metaphor for life because the further you go, the more you see that anything is possible.