Friday, January 1, 1999

The 25 Mile Theory

by Dr. Timothy J. Maggs, © 1999

"Never been so close, never hurt so bad".

Once again, the similarities between running and life. More people are starting to "get it". Running is life. If you can get to know running, you'll get to know life.

My wife, Trudy, and I, proud parents of two boys, recently learned she was pregnant. Although we were excited at the sight of that tiny heart beating on the ultra-sound, Trudy felt a wave of concern as her last two pregnancies ended in miscarriages. We took this opportunity to discuss the varying perceptions she and I had in looking at this situation. Was this good news, or just another situation we'd have to brace ourselves for if the bad news arrived? As with any "issues" 2 people go through together, it's always interesting to compare the difference in perceptions and feelings. I was thrilled at the thought of becoming a father again. Trudy was cautious.

The Marathon

With most experiences in life, my brain defaults to the marathon. It's life's simplest deal. Continue and you win. Stop and you lose. The popularity of the marathon over the past 15 years is a clear indicator that the masses have caught on. People have learned that the least gifted person can now be a finisher in a marathon. The Achilles Track Club has stories crazier than Ripley's Believe it or Not. But, the common denominator is that when the spirit is strong enough, when the desire is juiced, any mountain becomes the victim. "Every mountain looks so high when you're standing at the bottom, but when you've made it to the top, you can't see the problem". Paul Overstreet. Perfect.

So, the whole deal is that at the 25 mile mark in a race, if you're not committed, if you doubt your abilities, if you question whether there's a God or not, or lose faith, confidence and belief in the order of the universe, you may find the burden too heavy and quitting becomes your option of choice. You see only the pain and fear of continuing. People too often base decisions on how they feel at the moment, ignoring the bigger, more spiritual landscape that offers unlimited potential and lies out there in the universe. They quit marriages, jobs, exercise and a host of other challenges, all because it hurts. They accept defeat.

This theory, however, clearly states that we will all meet the "25 mile mark" many times in our lives, and although it hurts in the worst way, the only way to the finish line is to get through it. The option to quit is always available, but now you must go back to the starting line and once again get to the 25 mile mark in order to ever get to the finish line. And the rules never change. If you continue, you win. Stop, and you lose. So simple.

Hard Lessons - Simple Solutions

I've been working closely with a father of a young and talented hockey player who has suffered for the past year with a chronic groin injury. He's been to many, many doctors, therapists and coaches who have desperately tried to help. His hopes have been raised many times, always ending with minimal or no improvement in his condition. He is devastated psychologically. He refuses to see anyone else as the fear of raised hopes hurts too much. His youthful psyche hasn't matured enough to allow him to understand the 25 mile theory. He doesn't realize the only way he can reach the finish line is to, once again, go through that 25 mile mark. He must learn from the past and approach his future with youthful optimism. He must learn there are no problems in life, only solutions. But, sometimes they're hidden pretty well. Remember, continue, you win. Stop, you lose.

So, as Trudy and I reflected on our thoughts and emotions after learning of the pregnancy, we quickly ended up at the 25 mile mark. Never been so close, never hurt so bad. But, the only way to enter that delivery room some 9 months away was to first see that little heart beating on the ultra-sound. And although the possibility of another miscarriage is always very real, the only possibility of a healthy, happy baby is to become pregnant.

The key to it all is to develop a positive and healthy thought process that will complement your successes rather than contribute to your failures. The marathon and the many lessons learned through participation is the perfect guide book to help all of us get through the griefs of life. Every experience can be simplified and appreciated. So, win or lose, the ultimate benefits come with marathon wisdom.

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