What do a marathon and a divorce have in common? Sounds like the start to a corny joke, am I right? I have run marathons and gone through a divorce, so I feel like I can rightfully use the phrase, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint”.
The pain and discomfort, physically and emotionally—is real for both. The reality is that they are both a long journey, and you can’t get to the end by trying to rush to the finish.
A marathon (that is 26.2 miles or 42.2 kilometers) is something you embark upon voluntarily to challenge yourself. A divorce, however, is not usually a choice that you think you’ll ever be making the day you are saying your wedding vows.
Who gets married telling themselves that in five, ten or twenty years that they want to challenge themselves to get divorced to see how hard it will be and how accomplished they will feel at the end of it?
Continuing with that “challenge yourself” theme, challenging yourself to run a marathon or try something new is admirable. However, not many of us seek out experiences in life that are going to challenge our spirit, cause anxiety, change our life plans unexpectedly, or break our hearts.
Even if divorce is something that you initiated or wanted, it doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s an end of something you entered into with a person for a reason. Grief will still take place; tears will still be shed, and then healing will begin. That is when the real marathon begins, and you begin to write your next chapter.
You have aid stations to help you get through a marathon, but there aren’t necessarily aid stations to help you get through a divorce…or are there?
I made this statement in the blog I wrote after I ran the NYC marathon in 2019:
You have probably heard people referring to life as a marathon. “Just take it slow, it’s a marathon not a sprint”. Because I have both run a marathon and I’m going through life, I don’t feel like you can accurately compare a “real” marathon to the journey of life. When you are going through life, you don’t have aid stations along the way, you don’t have people cheering you on and ringing cow bells to encourage you to keep going.”
I said running a marathon shouldn’t be compared to life (and I was particularly referring to divorce at that time) BUT, I am going to retract that statement I made a mere two years ago because honestly—I DO think there are similarities.
Not only comparing a divorce to a marathon, but any challenging situation you are presented with in life. You don’t sprint to the finish, you take it slow. You go through the shit along the way, wade through the ugly, learn and grow and holy shit…the feeling of accomplishment after the journey—will leave you speechless.
I also said two years ago that unlike with a marathon, in life you don’t have aid stations along the way or people cheering you on. Well, I call bullshit on myself! Yes, you do!
Aid stations can be a metaphor for you taking time to practice self-care and self-love. And the cheers—if you are seeking therapy, have a life coach or even a good network of family and friend that are supporting you, THEY are your cheering section.
In a marathon you can skip an aid station or tune out the cheers. In life, it’s your choice to run past those metaphorical aid stations or listen to the metaphorical cheers. But I encourage you to stop at them, listen to them, they make the “run” a tiny bit easier.
This weekend I just ran the New York Marathon for the 4th time!
Two years ago when I ran this same marathon, it was one year post divorce and the emotions that it brought about were intense because I was still running my “divorce marathon”. This year, the emotions were even more intense, but the tears that were flowing were tears of happiness not sadness.
If you compare the divorce recovery process or navigating any challenging time in your life to a marathon, remember that people run faster than others. Many times we want to speed up and “run” faster to get to that finish line of our pain or grief. But just like in a marathon, if you start off too fast, you are most likely going to lose your steam…you have to pace yourself.
Take your time when you are navigating your next chapter. One foot in front of the other, one day at a time. Just like the feeling of accomplishment you would have if you crossed the finish line of a marathon, you have that same feeling of accomplishment when you overcome a hardship in your life! Slow and steady my friend.
Remember, You Got This!
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