Running 42.195 kms. is strenuous. It’s long and painful. It requires patience and diligence. There are episodes when when you want to quit. Along the route, you walk, stop, grimace, checking your cramps and massaging your knees and questioning why, why, why. The marathon requires perseverance — that decision by the brain to fight and to continue.
Today’s marathon is called Covid-19. We know this pandemic will not disappear in July. Possibly not by Christmas. This is an arduous and lengthy journey and we need to mentally embrace it as if we’re running an endurance race. Much like a marathon. Or, if this corovirus extends past 12 or 18 months, much like an ultramarathon that’s 50K or 100K.
I’ve ran seven marathons. What are a few lessons from running that I can relate with our situation today?
Stay positive. In a 42K run — the distance from the Cebu Provincial Capitol to Carcar — you will experience moments of negativity. (Maybe somewhere in Naga or San Fernando? When I-can’t-do-this thoughts will penetrate your mind?) No matter how hard you train, your legs will tire and your mind will beg you to stop.
Don’t stop. Walk if you want to. But move forward. The marathon teaches us to keep moving forward, one stride at a time, in the most difficult moments.
Tell your legs to shut up! It’s all in the mind. It’s not the marathon you must conquer. It’s yourself. Stay positive.
Another lesson: Be with friends. I know this is impossible for many because of the lockdown but if you can find creative ways to talk and bond and laugh and waste time with friends, you’ll survive this ordeal.
It’s like running. An avid runner during his less-busy days, the favorite quotation of Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella runs like this: “If you want to run fast, run alone. But if you want to run far, run with friends.”
This is true. For running and for life. Same with laughter. Here’s a quotation that I like: “Laughing is one of the best exercises. It’s like running inside your brain. You can do it anywhere and it’s even better with friends.”
Third lesson: Pace yourself. The marathon takes a long, long, long time. So will this coronavirus. “You can run a sprint or you can run a marathon but you can’t sprint a marathon.”
Prepare yourself for this prolonged stretch. Save money as you would save energy (in a marathon). Get plenty of daily exercise; at least 60 minutes. Go outdoors and sunbathe.
“Run your own race.” This is my favorite marathon quote and, in life, it’s the same: relax and run at your own pace.
Final (and most important) lesson: Pray. The last recourse of marathoners who are writhing in pain is to turn to the Lord. Same with us today. In Hebrews 12: 1-2: “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.”