Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. (1 Corinthians 9:25 NIV)
Athletes who train for races are all going for the same goal - to win the prize. During their training, they encounter times of fatigue and soreness. They also experience moments of exuberance from the sheer joy of victory and the act of wearing the crown.
As believers, we are to follow the example of athletes always looking toward the prize of winning. Our victory is not in achieving the crown, but bringing others to Christ.
After all, the crown we may wear is going to be placed at the feet of the only true King, Jesus Christ, Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
There are no crown-wearers in heaven who were not cross-bearers here below. - Charles Spurgeon