If you’ve never run a marathon, this article by my friend Betty Wright will show you how participating in marathons can fix your relationships.
When I signed up for my first marathon, I knew it would change my life. I just didn’t understand the extent to which my life would change.
I knew training for a marathon would change my body. I knew I’d gain confidence and a sense of accomplishment when I finished the race. But I didn’t know the race would have an impact on my relationships.
Before I started training, my life was a train wreck. I was just starting out on the road to recovery after battling a heroin addiction for years.
Needless to say, my relationships were in crisis.
But with the help of medically assisted treatment and marathon running, I got my life together.
I decided to start training for a marathon to help me overcome my addiction. For those of you who have never been through it, it’s a long and challenging journey. I needed something healthy to focus on with intensity. So I signed up for a marathon.
In case you’re wondering, training did help me along my recovery path. It was intense and almost broke me many times, but I powered through. And along the way, I learned how to fix my broken relationships.
How participating in marathons helped me fix my relationships
Marathons teach tenacity
If you’ve ever participated in a marathon, you know the value of powering through.
At some point, your legs are numb, everything else hurts and you start to doubt whether you can make it to the finish line. But you’ve invested so much time and energy into training. You set this goal for yourself and failure is not an option.
Well, as my relationships were in complete disarray, I got to thinking. I wondered what would happen if I put the same kind of effort towards my relationships as I did towards my marathon goals.
And then I thought some more.
I realized that some of my loved ones had put that kind of effort into our relationship, and it wasn’t reciprocated.
These were the kinds of thoughts that went through my head as I ran. And they helped me realize I had to do better.
Marathons taught me about goals
Sure, I had goals before I decided to participate in marathons, but I didn’t take them quite as seriously.
My involvement in marathons taught me how to stick to goals and why that’s important.
You can set any type of goal and come to the same conclusion, but there’s one thing that sets marathons apart.
When you sign up for a marathon, your goal is simple. It’s not easy, but it is very simple. Everything you have is focused on getting through that race.
And if you’re a seasoned distance-runner, maybe your goal is to get through the race in good time.
Either way, it’s a simple goal that you work your tail off to achieve.
Relationships are similar, but we don’t always think of them in the same way.
In every relationship, your goal should be to maintain a mutually beneficial partnership.
Sometimes that’s easy and sometimes you have to work hard to get there. But if you aren’t focused on that goal, your relationships are likely to fall out of balance. That’s when the real trouble begins.
Marathons force you to manage your time better
Most people who run marathons have families and day jobs. They’re busy outside of training, but they still have to put in the work.
This forces you to manage your time better than you’ve ever managed it before. During training, I never had a lot of time for friends and family, but in my off-time, I learned the importance of making time.
Since I had set relationship goals, it was a little easier to set aside time. Instead of thinking of a coffee date as wasting time, I was investing in my friendship and working towards my goals.
Suddenly, it became a lot easier to make time for friends and family.
I appreciated my time more
Whenever I was training, my time was so limited that I learned to cherish every moment. I learned that my time was a valuable asset, but my friends and family deserve it.
Marathons forced me to take a different view of my schedule. Everything I did became intentional and as a result, I was present in almost every moment.
This, coupled with my new relationship goals, helped me be a better conversationalist and listener.
After some time, I noticed a change in other people’s behavior too. They became more present during our time together, and they seemed to be enjoying themselves more than ever.
I learned how to ask for help
No one wins a marathon by himself or herself. There are moments when you scream and cry; when you want to throw in the towel.
If you don’t have a good support system, you may just give up.
After all, I put my loved ones through, I was ashamed to ask for help.
I finally decided to ask for help when I had no other choice. I was tired, hurting and I wasn’t making good time. I felt like such a failure and relapse was starting to look like my best option.
As a last resort, I talked about my feelings with a friend. That was a huge step for me!
After that, it was like the floodgates opened.
I was surprised at how people stepped up to help and offer words of encouragement in my dark times. I didn’t think I deserved it, but I got the support I needed. I’m not sure I want to think about what would happen if I hadn’t asked for help.
I built new and healthier relationships
The new friendships I fostered from participating in marathons were the icing on the cake. As I was learning how to fix my broken relationships, I was making new friends.
There’s an unspoken comradery amongst marathon runners. And when you find someone you can run with, it makes the experience that much better.
But the best part was that I learned how to have healthy relationships. That was priceless.
Running marathons has taught me a lot about myself and life in general. I became a well-rounded person who could have normal productive relationships. For me, that was a major accomplishment.
Through the journey, I also learned that not every broken relationship can be fixed. I had to walk away from one that broke my heart. But if you ask any of my loved ones who stuck around, I think they’d say it was worthwhile. I’m a better friend to everyone now, but I know I still have a long way to go.
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