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Is Life a Marathon or a Sprint?

Is Life a Marathon or a Sprint?—

Memories from a “Bucket-List” Vacation

By Todd Durkin, MA, CSCS

Early on in my career, one of my main mentors, Wayne Cotton asked me a profound question. He asked, “Todd, do you believe life is more like a marathon or a sprint?”

I thought about it for a second and quickly replied “Life is more like a marathon. He who goes the furthest, fastest wins. You never quit and you work your tail off until you get to the finish line… and you hope to get there first.” And I kinda smiled.

Wayne paused, looked at me very seriously, and said some words that I will never forget. This is what he told me:

“Todd, you’re dead wrong. If you keep going at the pace you are and not resting, you’re going to die at a young age. You can’t keep sprinting at the pace you are and not take a break. As a matter of fact, you are trying to run a marathon right now at a sprinter’s pace…and you can’t do that.”

I thought about it for a second, and then he added something I will never forget:

“And if you keep sprinting without taking a break and getting more rest, you’re going to end up like your father–dead at the age of 58 because of a massive heart attack.”

Woahh. That stopped me dead in my tracks. As tears rolled down my face, I knew he was absolutely right.

And he was.

A lot has changed since that discussion and conversation took place about 10 years ago. And one is the way I try to run my life.

You see, Wayne talked more that day about ways to maximize energy by living a series of “high-intensity interval sprints.” He said, “Todd, strive to live your life just like you train your athletes and clients… sprint/rest/sprint/rest. And emphasize the REST and recovery.”

More great wisdom from a man I have often called “Yoda.”

If you want to run hard and fast, you must emphasize the “REST.”

Let me tell you about some massive “REST” I just got on one of the most amazing vacations EVER.


I just completed what I would consider to be a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. It was one of those “bucket-list” trips that I dreamt about for many years now.

And it was all about “mellow-yellow” time. Time away from the rat race. Time to recover and reenergize. Time for some adventure.

My wife Melanie and I took our 3 children (Luke—11 years old, Brady—9 years old, and McKenna—6 years old) on a 16-day adventure to 4 amazing countries in Europe. We spent quality time in:

  • London, England
  • Munich, Germany
  • Innsbruck, Austria
  • Lake Garda and Venice, Italy

Many people have asked me a lot of questions about the trip. “What was the best part of the trip?”

“What was the worst part of the trip?”

“Did anything happen on the trip that was really funny or disastrous?”

Let me answer a few of those questions right now.

Because we had such an incredible 16-days there, it would be hard to put down all the great things we did and experienced.

But here are a few of our highlights:

1. London, England. The Harry Potter tour, the typical touristy things (Westminster Abby, Big Ben, London Eye, London Bridge, Tower Bridge), the castles.

I could have left my son Brady in that Harry Potter exhibit for all 16-days and he would have been content. He’s a huge Potter fan who read all 7 books in less than a year.

 2. The tours of F.C. Chelsea and F.C. Tottenham in England. As if one visit wasn’t enough, my son Luke (11) was in “futbol” heaven and got to see the locker rooms, press room, training area, etc. of some of the top Premier League clubs and “football” players in the world.

3. The biergarten’s in Munich, Germany. Man, these things were something I have never seen before. And they were good!

4. Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial. I’m not sure it’s a “highlight,” but I’ve always wanted to go to one of the camps and pay tribute. It was a great history lesson for the all of us and we left feeling somber… but grateful for the freedom we have.

5. Italian food. I think we ate Italian food about 12 out of the 16 days in Europe. And of course, every meal always had to be washed down with some gelato. And mama-mia, it was all SO GOOD!

6. Innsbruck, Austria. I loved the charm and beauty of this gorgeous city nestled in the Alps. And I had an epic run/workout in the mountains one morning that left me in a state of euphoria.

7. Garmisch, Austria. Another incredible Bavarian town in the Alps. The cool thing about this town was the alpine slide they had in the center of town. And I’m talking LEGIT alpine slide. The 5 of us had a blast “competing” a bit and we laughed a ton at this place. We had an incredible Bavarian meal (schnitzel, pretzels, goulash, and of course some apple strudel) in the downtown area that made us feel like we were literally in a fairy-tale.

8. Garda Lake, Italy. This sister lake to Lake Cuomo, Italy, is a bit quieter and less touristy. But every bit as pretty. Man, the resort where we stayed for 2 days was first-class with awesome recreational activities for the kids.

9. Venice, Italy. It truly is one of the most unique cities in the world. The history, the culture, and the architecture of this city are remarkable. And the gondola ride and water taxis back and forth to our hotel are something the kids will never forget.

10. And of course, the 2 conferences where I spoke in Europe (FitProLive and Perform Better—Germany). It was actually awesome to mix in 2 days of teaching/coaching during all the “mellow yellow” time. And what I learned is that there are some darned fired-up trainers and fitness-pros all over the planet. I had a blast teaching in London and Munich!

11. Dinner with Chris Poirier, Mark Verstegen, Martin Rooney, Charlie Weingroff, and Christian Jund was extraordinary on the last night in Munich. We were at an incredible biergarten in the English Garden, we had the families together, the kids were all playing, and we had a ton of huge belly laughs telling “presenter” stories, all while eating great food and enjoying some authentic German beer. It was seriously was one of the best times I’ve had in a long time.

What was the “worst” part of the trip?

1. Taking a 90-minute “Tube” ride from Heathrow airport to our hotel AFTER a 10-hour flight. It was “recommended” to do this because the traffic is so bad in London. That was some bad advice. Imagine the Griswolds (I mean Durkins) schlepping about 7 bags on a European train having zero idea where we were going. Let’s just say it tested our patience. 🙂

2. Hotel Diana at Lake Garda, Italy. We only had one “bad” hotel on the trip. And this was it. Fitting 5 people into one tiny room with 2 beds and no air conditioning made for a less-than-desirable experience. It was the first-and-only time on the entire trip we had only one room. And did I say it was tiny?

But it actually ended up being one of our most memorable nights because there was a spectacular thunder/lightning/rain storm that illuminated the lake and mountains that night. It was like we were camping out… but we weren’t! 🙂

But, if it hadn’t been for the Hotel Diana, we never would have found the beautiful Hotel du Parc we loved so much. And that hotel may have been the BEST hotel we stayed at on our entire trip.

3. Melanie and McKenna getting sick on the plane on the way home. Kind of a helpless feeling. No details necessary. 🙁

What else stands out?

If there is one thing that stands out above all about the entire trip, it was simply the amount of quality TIME with the family. And as you know, TIME is extremely precious.

It was my son Luke coming to the hotel gym with me to work out in Munich. And doing “Rocky Abs” and “bench press” together. And then taking off our shirts and flexing afterwards.

It was my son Brady being so excited EVERY night we went to a new hotel to see which bed he was going to sleep in. I was just happy we had a bed.

It was Luke and Brady riding that darned mechanical bull for 2 hours at the Perform Better party in Munich and watching them get launched time and time again. They must have tried riding that bull 50 times. And they just kept laughing. They seriously had bruises on their back the next day from getting tossed so much.

It was walking down the “streets” of Venice, or London, or Munich, or Innsbruck holding my little princess McKenna’s hand or putting her on my head and playing the “I love you so much game.” This is where we just go back and forth telling each other why “I love you more than you love me.” And then she shoots back why “she loves me more than I love her.” And we just go back and forth. And we laugh. And I ultimately “win” because I tell her my heart is bigger than hers so I have more love in it. And then she just looks at me with such content that it melts my heart. I love that game!

I was very grateful for Melanie on this trip. She was adventurous, fun, patient, and flashed her beautiful, radiant smile a ton on the trip. And it made me even more grateful to have her in my life.

Were there moments the kids had breakdowns? Did Melanie and I lose our patience? Of course! You are talking about 5 people together 24/7 for 16 straight days. That is A LOT of togetherness. I don’t care how much you love anyone.

But all in all, there were a ton of laughs, smiles, deep discussions, life lessons, history lessons, and just time together. And that was extremely special and something we will always remember. Let’s just say it created many memories to last a lifetime.


So, I’m ready to sprint. I’ve had some incredible rest. Between CanFitPro, Perform Better, and the IDEA fitness conferences, leading my team at Fitness Quest 10, and all I do, my battery is FULLY CHARGED. So watch out!

Remember, life is a series of short, interval sprints followed by rest. And it’s rest that’s going to give you the radiant energy. It’s rest that will give you the vitality and pizazz that you yearn for. It’s REST that’s going to give you the high-octane fuel you so desperately crave.

So how about you? Have you been sprinting for a while without rest?

Are you in need of a “bucket-list” vacation? Heck, any vacation will do for that matter.

Do you need to majorly recharge your batteries?

Is it time to create some special memories with your spouse or significant other? Or kids? Or maybe just for yourself?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, remember, life is like training. A series of high-intensity, interval sprints. Sprint-rest-sprint-rest-sprint-rest. And you need to emphasize the REST.

It’s time for me to go SPRINT. See you at the finish line. Thanks Wayne!

Much love… and much REST!



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