This verse compares the Christian life to the footrace in which athletes competed in the Greek games (read 1 Cor 9:25). The foot race was one of the most popular events of the Greek games that were held every year in Athens.
To prepare themselves for these races, runners underwent rigorous training, trimming down their bodies to climate every once of excess fat. On race day they wore light clothing-perhaps no clothes at all-to give themselves every possible advantage in the competition against other runners. These races covered various distance-from short sprints where speed was called for, to longer runs where stamina and endurance were more important.
In Paul’s thinking, the Christian life is like a marathon. It is important for us to remain faithful to Christ during a lifetime of service so we can say with the apostle as the end of the race, “I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7).
HEBREWS 12:1 – Let us [believers] lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience [perseverance, NIV] the race that is set before us.