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The Marathoner’s Metaphor

A professional marathon athlete is hired from a team in order to run in a big national event in Dublin. He arrives in Cork 5-days before the event. For the first time after hired, he is told that in order to reach Dublin, he is not allowed to use any transportation (train, airplane, bus, etc.), but he has to walk from Cork to Dublin. Of course, he is unpleasantly surprised.

The marathoner understands that even if he walks 30miles per day, he might cover the 150miles on time, but then he will have to run 40km of a marathon and compete against all the other athletes. He then asks whether he can use a bicycle, as that it will save him time, allowing him to do 75miles per day and reach Dublin in 2-days, rest 3-days and race. Yes, he can use a bicycle, but he has to order the bicycle and wait minimum 3-days to get it and spend another 1-day to register the bicycle and insure himself for travel injuries. Now, he realizes that he has 1-day to do 150miles with a bicycle and then run the 40km of the marathon.

There is no easy way out, but a marathoner’s best friend is time, so he starts walking. While he is walking to reach Dublin, he calls the team owners and he asks them whether he can get a taxi, there are so many going to Dublin. The answer is maybe, but it will take 1-month for getting approval, so it’s better to continue walking. Before ending the call, he asks about his gear for running the marathon (shoes, uniforms, etc). The owners reply do not worry the gear is not ready yet, you will get it 1-hour before the event. The marathoner asks:

But I will have to run a marathon with brand-new shoes?

Yes, what’s the problem?

Sure I understand…

The marathoner hangs up the phone. The mental game has already started inside his mind, but he is not even racing. His initial goal was to compete for the win, but the only thing he thinks now is whether he will even be able to finish the race. Obviously, the marathoner is already confused and psychologically stressed. He decides to stop for food and water in one of the petrol stations. An hour later, as the marathoner leaves the petrol station, his phone rings. Marathoner’s best friend, also a professional marathoner is on the phone.

Hey, where are you ? Are you already in Dublin resting for the upcoming race?

The 2 friends have been training for years together and run several times in long distance races side-by-side. The marathoner explains the situation to his friend and the reasons that he is not in Dublin yet. Phoneline silence, a few seconds later, only a single question:

Why do you waste your talent, after so many years of hard work and dedication? We both know, you won’t be able to even stand in that race, not have a chance of winning it.

The marathoner thanks his best friend for the moment of clarity and he finds a B&B to spend the night. The next day, he calls the team owners to say that he wants to have a transportation to Dublin, otherwise he cannot race. The owners reply that it is not possible and the only thing that he should target as goal is to just register for the marathon the day of the race, and run even for 1-minute, otherwise the owners will lose their sponsorship. The marathoner explains that his intention was to race for the win and not only the participation and he will quit if he cannot reach Dublin a few days before the race, in order to rest. The owners suggest to the marathoner to start running instead of walking until he reaches Dublin and wear also his own pair of sports shoes in order to get used of them, as this is his best alternative option for the race. He will arrive in Dublin 1-day earlier from the race and solve also the problem of the shoes. The marathoner quits the next day.

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