Why is the last mile the hardest mile?

It’s a lyric from a song by The Smiths called, “Is It Really So Strange,” but what’s more interesting is learning that the author of the lyrics, Morrissey, was a runner in school. He knew well that the last mile, for whatever reason, is the hardest mile. On the last 20 or so of my runs, I’ve noticed that the last half mile is my wall.

I don’t know if I need to increase my distances to push the wall out (probably) or if it’s just psychological since I’m getting close to being done with the run (possible), but either way, it’s interesting to note that there is a wall to push past. When my muscles are burning and my chest is heaving, my instincts are telling me to stop. It would feel so good! But I have yet to cut a run short, and short of an emergency or injury, I won’t allow myself to quit. Thus, I persist. I keep going. What is surprising to me is that I learned that I’m the type of person to keep pushing regardless of the short-term benefit to quitting. The same could be said for my diet.

While I was losing 150 lbs, there were times I felt like eating a pizza or a bowl of spaghetti would make me feel better. I even thought about justifications for eating them. “It’s just a short-term setback.” “It’s just a cheat; what’s it going to hurt?” “Surely I can get away with a few slices of pizza without any negative impact on my progress, right?” Well, I never gave in. Honestly, those impulse thoughts were just that: impulses that I ignored.

Those impulses and false cravings are like a wall during a run; something you just have to set your mind to get past. I got past them many, many times. Heck, they’re almost like hurdles in the beginning, but the longer you go on without the bad foods, the easier it is to get past them. Now, they’re less hurdles and more like smooth pebbles pushed into a cement sidewalk; I don’t even notice them anymore.

The last mile is the hardest mile. The last 10 lbs was the hardest for me to lose. But in the end, I always finish my runs, and I eventually lost that last 10 lbs (and then some!). Now, I’m in maintenance mode, and it feels great. Get past the wall. Jump those hurdles. There is a healthy and fit you waiting at the finish line!

ej5k
Me, back in 2016 after completing my first 5k distance run in San Antonio, TX.

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