Running and Life: A By-No-Means Comprehensive Analysis of the Similarities

Another way running is like life: there are always fast people at the front. Run your own race.

Another way running is like life: there are always fast people at the front. Run your own race.

Miles run today: 11

Pints of blood I gave on Monday: 1

Number of people one pint of blood can save: 3

[My plug for giving blood: I read a statistic that only 37 percent of American adults are even eligible for giving blood. Please give. You never know when you or a loved one may become a recipient.]

As we headed out on our weekly 11-miler this morning, I was reminded yet again of how much running mirrors life. Or really, how much life mirrors running. You can insert your favorite form of exercise in place of running here ______ if it makes you feel better.

1. The biggest obstacle is your front door. If your body has learned to crave exercise, you do look forward to a workout in much the same way some people crave Goodberry’s ice cream.

But there is writing to do. And there are toilets to clean. And warm, snuggly clothes to wear in the winter, blissful air conditioning in the summer. When you drag yourself out of the house, fingers bent around the door frame in protest, and make yourself start exercising, everything gets easier.

Life is like that, too. You probably won’t be enthusiastic about every single opportunity. Make yourself do it anyway.

2. You may lack the ability to see the big picture. My BFF gets mad at me every time we go on a long run.

The scene: Out in front of her house, me jumping nimbly out of the car like a superhero. (Ha!)

Me: You’re wearing your insulating rain jacket, a long-sleeved shirt, a tank top and leggings? You do realize it’s almost 60 degrees, right?

Her: Oh, you know it doesn’t bother me to just tie my jacket around my waist. No biggie.

Me: Are you sure?

Her: Yes. Now, can we go?

Me: As long as you’re sure.

Her: [Sigh usually made by teenagers in the presence of their moms.]

One mile into the run.

Her: Yep. I knew I’d be taking this thing off. [Delivered in a sing-songy, upbeat voice while tying jacket tidily around waist on top of water bottle belt.]

Three miles into the run.

Her: Okay. That’s it. I can’t take it anymore! Argh! [Delivered in a slightly grumpier tone while pulling off long-sleeved shirt and tying it less neatly around waist on top of jacket and water bottle belt.] Now I look like Paula Broadwell but with worse muscle tone!

Me: Your arm muscle tone is a paragon of perfection.

Nine miles into run.

Her: Seriously. The next time you allow me to leave my house with half of my running wardrobe on, I will kill you.

Me: I think I may have mentioned…

Her: No you didn’t. You just said, “You’re wearing a jacket?” And then I wore it. And it’s all your fault.

Me: When is our wine night again?

3. You can always do more than you think you can. Whenever you think you want to stop running, and your legs are tired, and your lungs are tired, and various parts of your body feel like they may fall off, you can keep going.

It’s crazy, but I’ve seen it happen again and again.

So hop off of this blog and go get that work done. Finish your novel or go for a bike ride or learn all about LinkedIn in a free webinar.

4. As much as everyone (including me) touts “living in the moment,” there is something incredibly satisfying about living through the moment and being finished. Hindsight is a delicious reward. For some reason, when we are finished with our run, the one where we talk constantly for an entire morning (or what feels like an entire morning), my BFF doesn’t want to hang around and talk to me more.

I’m pretty sure it’s because I stink.

But also, there is the blissful hot shower beckoning from inside the house.

And there is the satisfaction of checking that long run off the list.

Life is like that, too. Sometimes, especially if you are a storyteller, the best part is recapping the entire thing for posterity. Enhancing the best moments and editing out the less-than-stellar.

Unless your life is like DisneyWorld all the time. And in that case, I hope you continue to have a magical day.

What activity does your life most resemble? Do share. I find your comments both magical and satisfying.

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37 thoughts on “Running and Life: A By-No-Means Comprehensive Analysis of the Similarities

  1. E says:

    Ok in my defense there was an ominous sky above and like 3 sprinkles. Also, remember I get dressed at 5:30 when it is dark and cold. You really are such a nice, well-mannered person to not back slap me when I question my attire for the hundredth time. Hopefully you aren’t too embarrassed running with someone who looks like a clothesline! 🙂

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    I’m one of those who can’t give blood. My hemoglobin is too low. 😦

    To me, running is a bit like writing, like that quote “The part I like about writing is having written.” Or it goes something like that, anyway. Meaning like a long run, the going is difficult and sometimes we want to stop, but we feel so dang good when it’s completed. 🙂

  3. jmmcdowell says:

    I am so not good at questions like this! I haven’t a clue what activity my life most resembles. If I could think of an answer, I suspect it would vary with my mood. On a day I’m feeling good, I’d choose a fun activity as an answer. But if I was sick or had just received my tenth rejection on a novel, I might not be so positive. 🙂

    Since I would fear for my knees’ continued health, I probably couldn’t take up running. But I’m probably in the minority in my region. I see a lot of 13.1 and 26.2 stickers on the cars around here!

  4. Daryl says:

    Wacamole best descibes my life. Frantic, frantic, frantic. Just when I’m done, up pops another problem!
    As for giving blood, I’ve spent too many years in the UK eating cold meat pies. I’m sure the Red Cross thinks all Brits are insane in the membrane.

  5. MaureenWalsh says:

    What a woman–Wife, mother, writer, runner, and Blood Donor!
    Thank you for doing that. Because I couldn’t donate blood (my claim to fame–I didn’t weigh enough), I volunteered for about seven years at the donation site in Durham. (I have a pin to prove it.) I discovered, as you might guess, I never meet an unkind blood donor. Giving the gift of life. A great thing to do.

    Another “benny” to running–your blood usually runs faster. Old wives’ tale?

    • annewoodman says:

      Well, Maureen, I definitely weigh enough! ; )

      You are even more special for giving your time… the volunteers who organize ours are very dedicated.

      And yes, I’m a quick donor… don’t know whether that’s a credit to running or not!

  6. Kev Ollier says:

    The ‘biggest obstacle is the front door’ – ain’t that the truth – though for so many it’s being able to swing their legs out of bed!
    However, have you seen this vid – truly amazing- – at

  7. Here, here! for you plug about donating blood. I organized blood drives on my prior job, and people would make excuses to avoid donating – mostly ‘I hate needles’. Well, duh. Nobody likes needles. I used to respond with, “If it were your loved one waiting for blood, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. Now it’s someone else’s loved one.” The message is clear. You can save a life. As Nike says, ‘Just do it!’

    Okay, that was my plug. Thanks for the fun story.

    • annewoodman says:

      Yeah. I still don’t like needles; I get nervous every time. But it’s such a good cause… and if a lot of people aren’t even eligible to give, we need everyone who is to give!

      Thanks for the additional plug. ; )

  8. I tried donating blood once, but they really struggled to get the needle in, and then the blood was coming out so slowly, and then I almost passed out, and so they stopped, and told me that maybe blood doning wasn’t really for me. That was about 7 years ago though, so I should probably try it again.

    After that though, I did go and put myself on the register of potential bone marrow donors. I’m sure you know, with bone marrow, the chances of finding a match for someone are so tiny, they really need as many people on the register as possible. When I went to register, they took a sample of blood, but now they do it just by a saliva swab I believe, so it’s really no hardship to register.

    Hmm, I was going to give a response to your question here, but now I’m thinking there might be a blog post in it for me, so I might hold off and do my own post about that sometime (I’ll give you another shout out for the idea if I do!).

    • annewoodman says:

      Yes, giving blood can have some bad experiences associated with it… I’m sure that’s why so many people avoid it. When you can gather up your courage again, maybe you’ll get a good phlebotomist this time. ; )

      Yes, I need to get on the bone marrow donor list. I haven’t done that yet.

      OK–I look forward to hearing your future post! Always enjoyable…

  9. Melissa says:

    Haven’t given blood in a while because of some surgery, but I think it’s been long enough. Will have to check. Thanks for the nudge.

    One of my favorite quotes is from A.A. Milne and that lovable little bear Winnie the Pooh and his buddy Christopher Robin…
    “Promise me you will always remember: you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” That’s my constant reminder to “open the door.”

  10. I’d answer your question, but didn’t you just tell me to get off of your blog? Sheesh! make up your mind! 🙂

  11. Amy Mak says:

    You inspire me. Today I wrote about how hard it is to get out the door in the cold! Ah! Winter is here. I relate to the running/life. Every time I’m out there, I see it everywhere. Happy weekend, almost!

    • annewoodman says:

      Amy, I read that one! I haven’t had time to comment yet. I’m so glad it doesn’t get quite as cold down here (or at least it doesn’t stay as cold consistently).

      As soon as I can find a full-time job, I’ll be joining you in the 5:30 a.m. running. Argh. ; )

  12. I guess I really should give blood – seeing as I had a huge transfusion when I was born and wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for those donors. I loved this post. Just the sort of inspiring thing I need at the end of a tiring week.
    I think my life sometimes feels like a game of squash: the kind where you have a pro hogging the T and the opponent running around like a headless chicken, digging everything out of tight corners. Mostly I’m the headless chicken, though every once in a while I think: Ha! Today I’m the pro, in control, hardly breaking a sweat.
    Right now though, I feel like the ball – exhausted and gagging for the weekend.

  13. thepoelog says:

    The image of fingers clutching a door frame definitely resonates with this reluctant runner.

  14. 4amWriter says:

    I used to run, until I tore my ACL. Now I just walk quickly. 🙂 Thank you also for the reminder to give blood. I’m not a big fan of needles, and the last time I did it I almost fainted. That turned me off, but I need to be braver don’t I?

    • annewoodman says:

      Ugh–a torn ACL? Definitely not good. I’m sorry about that. I know running doesn’t last forever. I try to be careful… and then I may have to take up another activity. We’ll see.

      The needle part of giving blood never really gets better. I get nervous every time. But it’s worth it… and only takes about 15 minutes. I get into pushy sales (I’m not a sales person) mode when it comes to giving blood. Please forgive me. ; )

  15. Ravena Guron says:

    My mum used to go running every Sunday. I’d go with her, run a lap, and spend the rest of the time reading under a tree 🙂 My life resembles the same sort of thing, only I swim instead of running because I love the alone time. I love that bit about always doing more than you think you can do. Although it links to my writing, I think most of my maths homework that I always manage about a page of before giving up and deciding I’ll copy off someone the next morning!

    • annewoodman says:

      Oh yes, homework. ; )

      I like the idea of swimming and resting, feeling the water around you and living in your own underwater world. So relaxing! (But I do need to get better at the swimming thing.)

  16. Subtlekate says:

    Usually it would be working. I really love what I do. I get a high from it much like running.
    I love this post 🙂

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