I love the analogy of running a race as it compares to life. In both, you start out on a journey with the goal of winning, or in some cases –just finishing. I have never been the first to cross the finish line of a running race, but I have had a few personal victories along the way. Those victories didn’t happen by chance. I had to work for them, overcoming obstacles both internal and external.

In a conventional race, you really only have to deal with your own preparedness, the weather conditions, and the difficulty of the course layout. These were the only races I was running until last year, when I experienced my first obstacle course race. Not only did I have to deal with the all the factors involved in a conventional race, I had to deal with the obstacles, the water crossings, and the mud. A whole new animal and an even better metaphor for this race we call life.

I’m not the strongest. I’m not the fastest. But I’m really good at suffering. –Amelia Boone (one of the greatest obstacle course racers to ever step on the course)

When we think of practice, we think of doing an act over and over until we get better at it. Yoga is considered a practice. In order to do the poses, you have to practice. Meditation, reading, sports –all practices. If you want to improve, you must practice. Have you ever considered suffering as a practice? Suffering in a controlled environment, like an obstacle course race, gives you an opportunity to expose yourself to a bit of suffering. In the beginning, it is definitely not easy. But the more you do it, the better you become –the greater your ability to suffer in the future. To get past the obstacles in a race requires you to problem solve. It requires trial and error. And if you keep going and don’t quit, you just might be able to finish the race.

These artificial impediments along your journey are really no different than the ones you face in real life. The ramifications in life might be greater, but you have to solve them the same way. We can’t control everything that slows us down. Some of these obstacles are self-induced, others come upon us by chance. All we can do is navigate them to the best of our abilities. If we can continue doing this and not despair nor quit, we can be victorious in this game of life.

I hated every minute of training, but I said, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion. –Muhammad Ali

Those who aim at great deeds must also suffer greatly. -Plutarch

This is a continuation from Thursday’s post on not giving up. The conditions will not always be perfect. We might not ever be 100% healthy. But the race goes on. We have to keep going. We have to tackle each obstacle that gets in the way.