Endurance – running to finish

en·dur·ance   n

  1. The power to withstand hardship or stress
  2. The state or fact of persevering
  3. Continuing existence

    Running my 7th marathon in Victoria, BC in 2008

When you’re in the middle of adversity or your personal marathon, I don’t care who you are, you’re in denial if at some point you don’t have to tap into some strength and staying power in order to get through whatever you’re going through.  

Before this marathon of pain and recovery I for some unknown reason ran and finished seven marathons. Every time I got to the 21 mile mark (in a 26.2 mile race) I would ask myself, with the noise of cramping calf muscles, an aching back and an exhausted frame, “Why are you doing this again? Are you crazy?” 

I look back on those races now and wonder, “Maybe God was preparing me for a different kind of marathon that would make 26.2 miles look and feel more like a 5 km training run in comparison.”  Who knows! 

Endurance has been called many things

  • bite the bullet

“Bite the bullet” originated during a time in history when a wounded soldier was given a bullet to bite on to channel his reaction to intense pain. It was used before the invention of anesthesia which came along in 1844.

Bite on the bullet, old man, and don’t let them think you’re afraid (Rudyard Kipling).

  • take a deep breath

Before you do something unpleasant, “take a deep breath.” The act of taking a deep breath is thought to help prepare your mind and body for what’s coming and help you prepare for the endurance test that lies ahead.

  • roll with the punches

This phrase originates in the boxing ring and paints a picture of resilience and the ability to bend slightly under pressure but still be able to bounce back and not suffer defeat.

  • take it on the chin

This slang expression from the boxing arena paints a picture of someone who faces adversity courageously, withstands punishment, perseveres against the odds but bounces back from hardship.

A story of endurance

At 7 pm on October 20, 1968, a few thousand spectators remained in the Mexico City Olympic Stadium.  It was cool and dark. The last of the marathon runners, each exhausted, were being carried off to the first-aid stations. More than an hour earlier, Mamo Wolde of Ethiopia – looking as fresh as when he started the race – crossed the finish line, winning the 26.2 mile event.

As the remaining spectators prepared to leave, those sitting near the marathon gates suddenly heard the sound of sirens and police whistles.  All eyes turned to the gate.  A lone figure wearing number 36 and the colors of Tanzania entered the stadium.  His name was John Stephen Akhwari. He was the last man to finish the marathon.  He had fallen during the race and injured his knee and ankle.  Now, with his leg bloodied and bandaged, he grimaced with each hobbling step around the 400 meter track.

The spectators rose and applauded him.  After crossing the finish line, Akhwari slowly walked off the field.  Later, a reporter asked Akhwari the question on everyone’s mind: “Why did you continue to race after you were so badly injured?”

He replied, “My country did not send me 7000 miles to start the race. They sent me 7000 miles to finish it!” 

What race are you in the middle of?  What’s your reason for enduring until you cross the finish line?

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About Cam Taylor

I'm help people live inspired, focused and tenacious lives. I work as a coach, facilitator, author, and speaker.
This entry was posted in Adversity, choice, Endurance, Growth, healing, Hope, Opportunity, Perspective, Preparation, purpose, suffering and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Endurance – running to finish

  1. Thanks Cam. A great post. I always ask myself the “Why am I doing this” question as I jump into open water at the beginning of a triathlon. Thanks for modeling what it means to persevere.

  2. Vicky says:

    Nice 🙂

  3. Very insightful – again. Thanks

  4. Ross Campbell says:

    This blog is my favourite of all. What a lesson! What an inspiring story. Beautifully told my nephew.

  5. Pingback: From a Mother’s Perspective | camtaylor.net

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