“I’m tired of walking,” Manchild will moan and stop in his tracks. This is usually right after we have turned onto our street and I can see our stoop halfway down the block. I’ve got Squish in the carrier, a diaper bag, and usually at least one more bag on top of that. Piggy-backing Manchild down the street is out of the question.

“We’re almost there, Buddy. I can see it.”

“It’s too far. I’m tired of walking.”

“Do you think you could make it to that tree?”

“Um, yeah.” He uproots himself and takes a few steps forward.

“Hey, look! You made it to the tree! Now, do you think you could make it to that tree over there?”

“Yeah.”

“Awesome! You did it! What about that tree? Do you think you could make it to that tree?”

Before we know it, we’re at the stoop. We’ve made it home and it wasn’t as hard as either of us thought it was going to be.

* * * *

Have you ever thought about running a marathon, and then calculated where you would end up if you ran 26.2 miles in one direction, starting at your house? Don’t. It’s a bad idea. It will make the distance seem unmanageably huge. Heck, any distance can seem unmanageably huge. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s a tip: Break it into pieces. They can be the size of little Hershey bar pieces, or 1 ounce bricks of unsweetened chocolate, or maybe a 3.5 ounce bar of dark chocolate with bacon bits. Oh, wait. We were talking about running, weren’t we? Sorry. You can break any distance into manageable, bite-size chunks: Four laps around the track. Ten light posts. Three times around the block. To your favorite bakery and back. There’s something in there that you know you can do. And then you just have to do it. Again, and again, and maybe again.

When you start any run or any race you are, of course, thinking about getting to the finish. But you can also think about markers that will let you know how much you’ve achieved already. If you are running a marathon and you break it into “four 10ks in a row,” then when you hit the 10k, 20k, 30k, and 40k marks, you’ll get a little burst of energy (or something to cross off your mental list) that can power you through to the next mark. If you are running through the neighborhood, you’ll know what landmarks signal your progress. You’ll feel lighter as you go. It’ll get easier. And then there you’ll be, crossing the finish line, standing on your front stoop, having run more than you could wrap your mind around.

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