It’s all about mental preparation and physical stamina. You start out with a goal: I’ll get to 5k by March, which might equate in parenting terms to say, self feeding without accompanying entire outfit ruination. Or, perhaps you want to run a 10K in late April? This might be getting through a week without losing your temper. Or the big one, a half marathon, 21.2k, in early July. Toilet training. I’m not sure what a full marathon would represent (I swear I will never do one). Perhaps moving out of home?
Set yourself a goal and give yourself plenty of time to get there. If you go in too hard, too early, it will end in pain. And very likely screaming. You have to think of the long game, but you can’t get through the distance unless you break it up in your mind. Don’t start out thinking, I’ve got such a long way to go, but rather, only to the next hill, just the next turn in the road. A strategy to occupy your mind during long periods of tedium is good too. Music can help, or letting your mind wander to your happy place. When pain kicks in, and my mind starts turning against me, I look at my feet and think of people who want to run this race, but can’t. I think, you’ve got legs, run.
Sometimes it helps when you see others on the road struggling. Either you fist pump each other as you pass, or, if you are travelling in the same direction, you can suddenly turn it into a competition and overtake, imagining how in awe of you they are as you glide effortlessly by. Importantly, don’t let them see you failing around the next corner as you collapse in a wheezing heap from the burst of exertion. But mostly, when I see someone out there who looks new to it all and has a face frozen in a mask of focus and pain, I think, and often wish I could say, come on, keep pushing, you’ll get there.
The finish line is only ever just for that one day, just a moment. Until the next race begins, and you have to get out and train for that one too. As you run toward each finish, look around and notice, because you always forget later how good it is. When you are back in training, trying to raise the bar again, you forget the amazing feeling of success and all you can think about is the pain. So be proud.