Markers: Finishing Strong

This time of year feels a lot like the last two tenths of a marathon.

The kids are sputtering on fumes, sleeping through alarm clocks, eating breakfast like zombies, and asking how many more months until summer.

I am in the middle of finals in my graduate program, studying whenever I have five free minutes, researching and writing papers long after the kids go to bed. I’ve been told my packed lunches are starting to lack in creativity. The piles of laundry are becoming Himalayan—I used to separate by colour, now I separate by “dirty on the floor, clean on the counter.”

We’re doing the best we can these days.

The final stretch of a marathon can be epic. Sometimes you can see the finish line, sometimes not. Either way, it’s close enough to taste but far enough to keep you hungry. Your calves are cramping, or at least mine always are.

I’m usually salt-encrusted and ready to be done. Everything about my body aches. And yet more is demanded. You can’t just stall out at kilometre 42 nd walk it on in. Sometimes that final .2 determines the seconds that represent the difference between a PB, or not. But it always means something to finish steady and strong.

When we train ourselves to finish strong in one area of our lives, like running, we learn to finish strong across the board. We see things through. We meet our deadlines and press on toward our goals. We stay present and parent our kids even when things are hard and we’re tired and out of patience. We pony up and turn in the paper, even when it’s tempting to give up. We learn to forsake immediate gratification in favor of the long view.

We do this, because even though it might feel good to stop, it will feel awesome to finish. We learn how to access our backup tank and remember to keep it full. Once we learn the value of finishing strong, we don’t do things almost. We don’t give up.

Finishing strong is ultimately about commitment—commitment to ourselves, to our partners, to our dreams, and to our goals. Love for a person or a passion is sometimes more work than feeling. It’s a commitment to hang in there when we are running on fumes.

I know that when I finish strong, I’m cultivating and honouring the love and commitments in my life. As a runner, it’s time to apply that hard-earned wisdom to everything I do.

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