Fitness is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

At the time I began to write this article, it was hard to believe that all of the snow would ever go away; that spring would never come, and according to the groundhog, we were in store for another few more weeks of winter. But it then became more noticeable that the daylight hours had been getting longer and the birds had resumed their chirping in the morning. Even with all of the snow on the ground, a lot of melting occurred during the daylight hours. Spring is indeed coming and before long, outdoor activity will resume. Question is, will you be ready or has your fitness been put in hibernation over the winter?

There are several definitions for fitness. Fitness can embody physical, mental, emotional, and even fiscal, but simply stated fitness is about being adapted, suited, and prepared. Whether or not you enjoy running for exercise or participate in races, running provides a great analogy when it comes to understanding the value of keeping fitness as a part of your everyday life. Just like most things in life, a run is a journey between two points — a beginning and an end. The beginning can be anything from that first step out the door, to the start of the trail, to the line on the track, etc. The end, finish line, or goal, is different for everyone. If the goal is to run a 5K, the finish line is 3.1 miles away; a marathon, 26.2 miles away. But no matter the goal, there has to be a plan in place to get there and that is where most fall short in their journey. 

As previously stated, fitness is about preparedness — the preparedness to ward of most self-induced costly illnesses, improve quality of life; the list is limitless. As is clearly evident in today’s society, we are a nation of unfit, unprepared people who would much rather do something quick and right now than correctly and more beneficial to our health. Fast food, convenience food, crash diets, diet gimmicks, fitness gimmicks, etc., they are all a quick fix (sprint) to a much more efficient and time honored solution — consistent, dedicated time (marathon) to doing what’s right. Imagine for a moment the runner and the pain he would have to endure running a marathon after having done little to no training. Had he spent a little bit more time preparing for the race by training and eating smarter, finishing the marathon would at least be realistic. 

Not everyone needs to run a marathon to appreciate the fact that as in life, slow and steady wins the race every time; slow to progress with the training and steady by keeping actions consistent with the goal in mind. We’re too easily swept up in the “I don’t have time,” “I’m too busy,” “I don’t need to exercise” excuses and then want the sympathy in the end when the pack has finished ahead healthy and strong and we are left in the dust of wonderment. We’re too easily influenced by fitness gimmicks and food product marketing that leave most with such a warped sense of what it means to be healthy that they have themselves so convinced that they know what’s best. Imagine the runner again missing a turn in a marathon thinking that he knew a shortcut, only to find out that the 26.2 miles has now doubled.

A marathon is not won or raced efficiently for most by running at full speed from the start.  Unlike a sprint, which is over in seconds, a marathon is not only a test of endurance and stamina, but the mental toughness and willingness to press on when everyone else would most likely quit. As in life, it’s easy to quit, walk away when things get challenging. Most of us however are capable of even the shortest of sprints; sprinting to the car when it starts to down pour; hitting the vending machine because you didn’t eat breakfast; stopping at the fast food joint on the way home for dinner. With the sprint, it’s over in a flash and the desired result is immediate. With a marathon, it takes time and patience.

Fitness is a lifestyle — a life long process of eating healthy, exercising regularly, getting plenty of rest, managing the mental and emotional stresses in our lives to name a few. Contrary to what our perceptions may be due to marketing and advertising, fitness is not a guarantee. Rather it is achieved through proper planning and implementation of sound principles and not marketing hype. And in today’s world, nothing can be more gratifying than knowing there is something you really do have control of, and that is your health.