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Five Important Life Lessons That Everyone Can Learn From the Dublin Marathon

Posted by Robert Ward on 20 October 2014


You won't even need your runners to benefit from this advice, says NCI's Director of Marketing Rob Ward.

People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they'll go to any length to live longer. But don't think that's the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you're going to while away the years, it's far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that's the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree,” Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

There’s a week to go till the Dublin City Marathon, which is happening this year on October 27th.  Every year up to 14,000 people push themselves to the maximum in the streets of Dublin.  It is definitely my favourite day of the year.  Sure it hurts like hell, but the crowds, the atmosphere; the camaraderie with a group of strangers is amazing.  As the writer Murakami says it does teach you a lot of lessons for life.  In terms of your educational journey I think it also might have a few lessons to teach.

Lesson 1 - You can do more than you think you can.

"Ask yourself: 'Can I give more?'. The answer is usually: 'Yes'." Paul Tergat, Kenyan professional marathoner.

I am an average runner but myself and most people who apply themselves to it are amazed at the progress they can make.  One minute you might be struggling to complete a 10k but after a time you find yourself breezing through a half marathon.  Like studying progress is slow and steady and often comes not in leaps but in a very gradual strengthening of your capabilities.  

Lesson 2 – Having a goal focuses you… and not just on that goal.

"Methinks that the moment my legs began to move, my thoughts began to flow." Henry David Thoreau

Ok so absolutely let’s not say because you run the rest of your life is sorted.  However, as in most things in life having clear goals really give you a focus and helps you in other areas of your life.  I often found that when I was studying it helped me to be more disciplined about other things in life and I think the same is true of running.

Lesson 3 – Take it at your own pace.

Life is a positive-sum game. Everyone from the gold medallist to the last finisher can rejoice in a personal victory." George Sheehan – Writer

My little girl always asks me did I win when I return from any race I enter.  Of course that’s never going to happen but in marathon’s everyone has their own abilities and challenges to overcome.  When I see people completing marathons in 5 or 6 hours I often think they are the real heroes.  In education people are also coming from different start points.  Maybe you missed out on some education in earlier life and you know have to come back to it.  Whatever your start point or ability you can make progress and work yourself up through the educational ladder at a pace that suits you.

Lesson 4 – There will be tough times.

"Struggling and suffering are the essence of a life worth living. If you're not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you're not demanding more from yourself -- expanding and learning as you go - you're choosing a numb existence. You're denying yourself an extraordinary trip."
- Dean Karnazes – UltraMarathon Runner

They rightly say that the last 6 miles of a marathon is the second half of the race.  This is where the pain can really kick in.  Your entire body aches, cramps can feel like somebody is stabbing a knife in your calves and your mind can start to betray you.  I don’t know if I’ve ever felt that pain at exam time but studying won’t always be that joyous confidence building experience we might like to describe. Sometimes the boss will be on your case, the kids will be sick and you have that bloody assignment to write by tomorrow.  It’s not easy but as I saw on a guy’s tee shirt in a recent race.  “Pain is temporary, pride is forever.”  Soldier on you’ll get there.

Lesson 5 – Support is important

That's not sweat, it's your fat cells crying." Sign seen on Marathon route.

Oh the joy that you feel when you come around Trinity College and get that huge cheer from the crowd.  Support on the day is amazing.  Equally important though is support on those winter nights or early mornings when you are going for a run, or permission on the weekend to leave the kids with your partner and get out for that long run at the weekend.  Sure it’s great to get the pats on the back from people at exam time but if you are looking to do for example part-time study you will need support from friends and family to make sure that you can fit it in with the rest of your life.

So I think there are some parallels between running and setting out on that educational road.  The main thing is, just start somewhere.  Best of luck to all the Marathon runners and to all those studying away. Remember no pain no gain!

Why check out our article on Stress Management and get some more interesting advice? 

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Topics: Advice