Posted by: emjb | July 21, 2007

My normal analogy to compare giving birth to climbing Everest.

But I think marathon running is a good analogy too:

A few weeks later, Ann’s training was going well. She had missed a few days, but usually accomplished her daily goals. While the running itself was sometimes tedious and uncomfortable, she loved how she felt afterwards. Ann mentioned to a friend that she was training for a marathon and was surprised when her friend told several horror stories of marathon runners who suffered lifelong injuries—even one about a runner who drank so much water that he died during the race. Ann replied that she had carefully researched both common and rare injuries and that she was sure that she could either prevent them, treat them herself, or seek help if something serious arose. Her friend said, “But how can you be sure? You might die of a heart attack while you are running—you’d have no way to know it’s going to happen until it is too late. It’s just not worth the risk.”

Ann’s family thought she was crazy. Shouldn’t she be doing something more useful with her time? What if something went wrong? What if during the race she is in too much pain and can’t finish—then how would she feel? Anne told her family that she had done her research and that it was an important goal. She asked that they either speak positively about her upcoming race, or that they refrain from saying anything at all.

Ann noticed that the media always focused on the sensational stories of marathon running turned ugly. When TV crews covered races, they showed runners limping along, looking like death warmed over. They usually interviewed runners who had to drop out, giving them several minutes to tell their stories. Then, almost as an afterthought, they would give 30 seconds to a successful runner who looked exhilarated, if a bit tired and sweaty. Of course, after that runner was done speaking, the TV host would remind the audience that most people cannot complete marathons and that it was best not to get your hopes up. Good grief, Ann thought. I know plenty of people who have completed the race without dying or breaking a leg or permanently injuring themselves.


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