How To Keep Running

Business or Life, it’s all a marathon composed of literally running for your life until you meet your final resting place. “One foot in front of the other” is what they say. I was a runner once, and many people are not. What does it mean, to run a marathon?

There’s nothing like running. The ground moves under you as fast as you can kick it, the wind is set to hold you back, and your breathing is measured out in heartbeats. Two beats in, one beat out. Two beats in, one beat out.

When you sprint, there’s no sustaining the speed. You give your muscles all the fuel you can throw at it. You aren’t there to run forever. I never liked sprinting, or even working at places that call things “sprints.” When someone says “sprint,” I think exhaustion. I think about passing out dead tired at the end of the day feeling like I didn’t go anywhere (because I didn’t).

Sprints are a horrible measure. You can’t go far with them, but you’ll have ample time between them to decide where to go, while all those running the marathon pass you by. Sprints are, by design, slower than running over the aggregate time / distance. Sprints are more useful in marathons to reach milestones. Even then, they have a heavy cost.

When I’m running long distances, I have a tendency to drop into a rhythm, a pace. When I’m running for fun, this is enjoyable. But if I’m running to win, to live, I have to push myself to a pace that’s mildly uncomfortable. I count my heartbeats, my steps and push them ever faster. The metrics my brain collects tell me how I’m performing, how much energy I have left, whether I can push through a crippling cramp or carry though a sprint.

The crowd cheering me on (ie, the market) tells me where to go and how I’m doing. They might shout out that my shoe is untied. It’s hard to tell if it’s just someone trolling me or if I might legitimately have a problem. So, I check, and consequently, lose my focus. My shoe is tied tight but my focus is gone, so I count. Two beats in, one beat out. I pay less attention to the crowd, focusing on where I want to go whether or not the crowd wants me there: the finish line.

More and more people are crowded as I approach the finish line. I’m running low on nutrients to power my muscles, they ache in a glorious way, doing what their purpose is in life. My thoughts might wander to how I would feel if I didn’t have the ability to kick the ground and propel myself across it. I start to fall into a more comfortable pace and remind myself to keep uncomfortable. Push faster, ever faster but not too fast. This isn’t a sprint. Two beats in …

I start to feel a cramp coming. I remember reading that they come from too much oxygen. My count is off, I need to breathe less. I hold my breath a second and restart my count, calming my mind and pushing through. The cramp comes on anyway. The pain is intense and I want to slow down. I can’t slow if I want to win. I must endure the pain. I will cry through it. I will hurt like I’ve hurt a thousand times before, but, I’ll live and endure.

I can see the finish line, the crowd is cheering and some even booing. The ones that boo; I wonder if they’d ever done this before. They seem to be unable to appreciate the work involved. Then, I realize they want someone else in my place; it’s nothing personal. I sprint. I give my muscles every conceivable bit of blood flow. I stop thinking and just do. It’s the ending I want, which is just a beginning … there’s another marathon next week.

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