Last Sunday, as I was looking on in awe and horror (in equal measure) at the London Marathon, my mind started to race. Is there a bigger message in this no-mean-feat other than just sweat and blisters?

As many as 40,000 people pounded the pavements of the capital to run, walk or hobble the 26.2 miles. Ranging from elite (Mo) athletes to the average fit-loving person to some pretty comical run runners, the entrants all seemed to have a point to make.

Aside from the crucial fundraising, it seems that a personal best time is the main driver. A challenge, a goal and (hopefully) an achievement drive the best of us on a daily basis. And this must be the main attraction. But does it justify the sheer pain that so many of those runners clearly experienced en route?

From what I can understand from questioning those with now aching muscles, all those signals sent from the body to the head scream: ‘PLEASE STOP’ and ‘THIS HURTS’ and ‘MY LEGS ARE KILLING ME’. But those on this running race mission hardly stop, absolutely overruling any body weaknesses. The gig certainly sounds tough.

The biggest tonic of all is the crowd. My sister-in-law, who ran the race (in admirable time), told me that the cheering of her name while showing admiration for her drive gave her the power she needed to finish the race.

And so my point this week isn’t really about running a race but more about how we introduce our children to idea of realistic challenges in their lives – therefore giving them the possibility of that glorious feeling of achievement and recognition. With our encouragement and some sheer determination, they should be made to feel that they can finish the course. Whatever that course is. And without even caring about winning.

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