Is Your Life a Marathon or Sprint?

Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘life is a marathon, not a sprint’?

If you’ve heard it before or are hearing it for the first time, do you agree with it?

Personally, I disagree…

For me, a marathon is a run at a slower and steady pace without much variation. The focus is on conserving energy for the long haul so that you can cross the finish line (before potentially collapsing).

Yes, there is a good message buried in life is a marathon about playing the long game. It speaks of patience, a steady pace and persistence. Yet I still find myself disagreeing.

Sprinting, on the other hand, is a laser focused burst of top speed and energy over a shorter distance to cross a finish line or reach an objective. It is an all out effort with the purpose of reaching your destination as quickly as your body will allow.

While there are benefits to both approaches, the key factor for me is a healthy balance. We often live at a non-stop pace, and for those of us subscribing to a life is a marathon approach, we may often find ourselves running that marathon race at a sprinter’s pace – i.e. off balance and heading for a crash.

So, to avoid that trap of trying to sprint a marathon, I believe that life should be run like a sprint, but only if you run your sprint the right way.

Sprint To Success

Think about it, life doesn’t happen at a slow and steady pace – especially if we are pursing something big and meaningful. A life of purpose requires a faster pace, and if we try to live life as a marathon at the pace required to accomplish our goals, then we won’t be able to handle it physically, emotionally or mentally.

In life, we are thrown curveballs, challenges and unexpected circumstances, and we need to be able to take those in stride as we move forward. We will need a burst of effort, focus and energy to effectively deal with these challenges, and then once we are past them, we need to slow down and recover.

And so, I believe we need to run our life at a sprinter’s pace – a burst of focused speed followed by a period of recovery. And then we sprint again!

Now let’s dig a little deeper and start recalibrating to a sprinters pace and accelerate our path to our personal vision of success.

Sprint Towards What is Important

Once we buy into a sprinter’s approach to life, we also must make sure our sprinting is taking us towards what is personally important. If we sprint without focus or purpose, we will be darting in all different directions. Sure, we will be moving quickly, but not towards anything meaningful. Invest the time in building your personal strategy and vision in order to guide your momentum and energy so that you are sprinting in the right direction!

Once you have your purpose and direction, dedicate your time and focus on the next step or action towards your desired outcome and sprint full speed ahead until it’s done!

Plan Time for Recovery

The only way a sprinter’s pace works is if we give ourselves the time to recover.

If we have a big project, deliverable or competition ahead of us, then we should go full speed ahead at it with all of our focus, energy and drive in order to give it our very best. But once that event is done, we must plan our recovery period to refuel our body, mind and spirit.

It could be as simple as a trip to the spa, extra sleep, our favorite workout, or quality time with friends and family. Not only will it protect your well-being but it will also give you an extra burst of motivation to help push you forward when you are in the midst of a difficult or intense period.

Allow Yourself to Recover

This sounds similar to planning time for recovery, but I promise you it isn’t. I know because I am speaking from experience…

There is a big difference in planning for recovery and then actually using and embracing that time. I personally struggle with allowing myself to take the mental foot off the gas. Much of my struggle is centered around letting myself be OK with being idle rather than running through all the things I feel I could or should be doing from my never ending to-do list, and feeling guilty that I’m not doing them.

So what’s the result?

Well for me, I may be physically rested but I remain mentally, spiritually and emotionally drained. Not a winning recipe for taking on the next obstacle or challenge…

This is a trap that we all need to be weary of because the reality is that our to-do list will never be empty. So, if we choose to keep putting off our recovery until that list is empty then we will be both disappointed and burnt out by the time we finally accept the reality of the situation.

Give yourself the permission you need to use your planned recovery. Your future self will thank you, and the results that you will produce while rested will be of better quality and far more impactful!

And Then, Sprint Again…

Once recovered and refocused, its time to sprint again! With refreshed energy, focus and clarity it’s time to get back after it on our personal path towards our vision, goals, greatness and impact on the world.

So let’s get our feet into the starting blocks and go full speed towards what’s next and give ‘em hell in the process!

Unleash Your Inner Athlete!


Discussion Question: How can you shift from running your life as a marathon at a sprinter’s pace, to running life as a sprint with the proper mix of sprinting and recovery?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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