I have been running for most of my adult life. For all the physical benefits that come with pounding the pavement several hours a week, I find that the ability to push beyond my perceived limits is the most valuable element inherent in distance running. In order to go the distance, my mental determination and focus need to be at least as durable as my physical strength. In some cases, more so.
When I talk to my friends living with Alzheimer’s disease, I find myself repeating idioms and axioms prolific in the running world. I repeat words of encouragement, about digging deep, about never giving up. I remind myself of a coach, hoping to instill enough motivation to see the person through another challenge, up a big hill, or over another hurdle. I remind them that this disease will require sustained effort to manage, and will deplete their reserves unless they are routinely replenished.