Training for a half marathon is like building a great marriage. Here are five reasons why:
1. You have to spend time.
As I’ve been training for this half (which still seems exceedingly impossible), I’ve had to spend a lot of time with my running shoes laced. Nearly every morning, I have a date with the pavement, and when I sleep in, I feel it the next day.
In the same way, a great marriage is built on the foundation of time spent together. When we actively choose to go different directions, and don’t reconvene, we’ll feel it in the way we interact. Our closeness diminishes. There’s no magic formula to marriage just as there’s no quick way to train for a half marathon. You simply put in the time.
2. You have to forsake all other exercise (mostly).
Although I do cross train, mostly I’m running. I don’t have time to add an exercise class, and I have to eliminate a few other things from my schedule in order to run.
In a marriage, I have made a vow to forsake all others, even fun friends, cool outings, and all sorts of other distractions, making my husband a priority.
3. You have to celebrate milestones.
Recently, I realized I’d improved my mile time by two minutes. You can bet I celebrated.
But often we forget in marriage that when we reach milestones, we shouldn’t treat that as mundane. Choose to celebrate anniversaries. If your spouse accomplishes something, go on a date to mark the success. Talk about how far you’ve come. Be intentional about anniversaries.
4. It’s hard.
There’s really no getting around the difficulty of running long distances. Often you want to quit. You have to learn the art of “you can do it” pep talks. You have to develop the discipline to put one foot in front of the other on high hills, during painful shins, when you’re huffing like an old lady.
Marriage is hard too. Sometimes you want to quit. You need to develop some good pep talks, peppered with an amazing dose of forgiveness and selflessness. Love is always a decision, so you choose each day to love your spouse, pray for him/her, and persevere when the hills loom.
5. There’s great reward in the process of discipline, hard work, and training.
I’m in better shape now since I started training. I’m happier. I’m losing weight. It’s heartening to see my hard work actually pay off.
I fear that many people leave their marriages (or emotionally check out) right on the cusp of the breakthrough. Today choose to persevere because tomorrow the blessing will come. We’ve weathered some rocky patches. There were times I didn’t know if we’d survive. But we did. And now our relationship is stronger, more affectionate, and more trusting than it has ever been.
So, have you spent time with your spouse? Exclusive, sweet time? Have you valued him/her over all others? Have you stopped your crazy life long enough to see how far you’ve come and celebrate your victories? Have you persevered in loving your spouse even when it’s not convenient? Have you approached your marriage as something precious, something to be fought for?