The First Mile is the Hardest


When I took up running, late in life at the age of 35-ish, I found the first mile was a killer. Well, at that point, every mile was a killer, but the first mile – really tough.

Even after months of practice, every other day, over and over, the first mile still got to me.

I can’t do it, I thought. It’s too hard. I’m hot. My legs hurt. I hate running.

But yet, there was a good reason I was doing it, so I kept at it.

I was on a mission.

Many months later, my husband said casually, “The first mile is the hardest.”

WHAT? I replied. Is it hard for you? I asked him.

He laughed.

Laughed.

Cruel if he only knew…..but he didn’t know. He had been a life-long runner. This was common knowledge to him. He was matter-of-fact.

He went on to tell me that, of course, the first mile is the worst. He – fit, seasoned runner, competitive, strong – found the first mile the hardest. But, he said, if you pushed through it, pushed forward, you found that after the first mile, you were cruising. You got to that other-worldly place where your head went somewhere else, and your body, well, your body fell into a synchronistic rhythm that said RUN.

OMG! Why hadn’t anyone mentioned that to me before?

So the next run, I went out with a different mindset. The first mile was hard, but I told myself, once past, it would change.

And you know what?

It was true!

In pondering the concept further, I find the first mile is the hardest, is a metaphor for life in general. It pertains to far more than running.

The first mile is the hardest.

What it says to me, and what I’ve learned to be true from my novice running, and simply living life, is that…….if you keep at it, if you keep moving forward, one heavy, sweaty footstep at a time is that all of a sudden, after many steps, possibly many miles, possibly days, you will fall into YOUR rhythm and then all of a sudden, the eye of the storm.

You’ll coast a bit.

Float. Cruise.

Ride the wave.

And then from there, you’re moving forward in a way that isn’t as painful. It isn’t as difficult. You almost can’t remember when it was so hard. Because it’s now more natural. It feels more right, do-able.

And that’s when you know, you’ve found your groove, your right place.

The first mile is the hardest in running and just about any venture worthwhile.

But if you keep at it…..after that first mile…..maybe, just maybe, FLYING!!!

Photos courtesy of

the TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10k Road Race

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