The First Mile is Often the Toughest


As I set out on my 20 mile run (a typical part of my marathon training leading up to Philadelphia marathon race day on November 19th), I felt both mentally and physically prepared.  After all, the day prior I made a point to keep hydrated with plenty of water. I set out bottled waters along the course the night before, as most distance runners do.  I also went to sleep early to ensure I had almost eight full hours of sleep.  I laid out my running clothes, and even fueled with complex carbs.


So as I set out on my run, I was ready to conquer this run with a smile and enjoy the euphoric experience of altering hills, and terrain. 


However, sometimes in life things do not go quite as we plan and we have to learn to roll with the punches.  Obstacles can get in the way and you have to find a way around them.  How we choose to handle these obstacles molds us into the people that we are.  And that is exactly what happened on this very day.


Just two minutes into my run, I began to feel tired.  For some reason, I started to feel discouraged even though I knew I still had 20 miles to run.  There was a long journey ahead and I had just started, which can be very intimidating in itself.  I should mention that the temperature was quickly rising and although I run early, the temperature had already warmed up to hot, humid 85.  So I pushed myself despite feeling fatigue, lack of energy and overall apathy.


I was able to push at a relatively strong pace until I hit mile 13 and I started to feel like I was running out of gas. At this point my legs felt heavy and I just wanted to turn around and quit. I even questioned why I was doing this—running—in the first place. 


But life’s challenges make us who we are today in how we decide to handle them.  So I pushed myself to continue.  I started to worry less about my pace and more about completing this 20 mile run.  I thought of my children and how upset I would be if I had to tell them I was unable to finish the run.


I would hate to disappoint them when they had thought of me as their mighty hero. 


And in their minds, they would somehow equate this with feeling like it is okay to start something and not finish it.  It would give them the message that it is okay to quit.  So with every fiber of my being, I continued.  Just one stride at a time.  I conquered the discouragement in my mind and began to feel encouragement as I went through the cadence of my run.


If you are not a runner, you may wonder how this specific story relates to you.  I mean, 20 miles is a heck of a long distance for anyone and most especially if you are not a runner.  With difficult times in your workouts, marriage—if you have a family member that is ill; you just have to keep your head up and march on.  Life lessons are transferable in all aspects.  So it is integral to fight the fight worth fighting for.


Life is not always a bed of roses but with a positive approach life is truly what you make of it.  So it is important to always find a solution, a way to get through the bad and seek out the good. 


So on that very day I got through every ache and negative thought in my mind and I told myself anything is possible.  I believed in myself despite my body telling me it was tired.  From my positive thinking as the run progressed I had a surge of energy.  I felt back on pace and much better because I knew this was a mental game and I would not let the mental battle of defeat win.  And so I began to win again and get over what happened in the first mile. I believed!


When you are feeling down because of difficult times you may have with your siblings or children; know there is always a way to conquer these challenges.  You can think of a solution, talk things through and keep your head up to get through the bad and find the good.


And as I completed my 20 mile training run on that very day, I did just this.  And I came home to tell this story to my 12 year old daughter, Ava; 10 year old daughter, Ella; 5 year old son, Brent; and 1 year old  daughter Alexa (even though she had no idea what I was saying).  My children hung onto every word as I discussed how sometimes all you have to do is just believe.  Believing is achieving because in reality there is absolutely nothing you cannot do.


So remember this approach each day in all aspects of your life and get through that first mile.  Life is truly what you choose to make of it each and every day!



Tara Zimliki is a nationally recognized weight loss expert, personal trainer, health coach, health writer and founder of Tara’s Bootcamp, the Premiere Bootcamp of New Jersey. Tara also runs her own blog,