Dr. Vernon Rayford

As I am standing at the back of the starting line for the Abbott Dash 5K in Manhattan on Saturday, Nov. 2, near the United Nations buildings, I am thinking about similarities between diabetes prevention or anything related to better health and running a marathon.

In about 24 hours, I will be standing near the back of the start line, this time in Staten Island to start the 2019 NYC marathon along with about 52,000 others. There will be elite runners, celebrities and regular people like me.

Most nations, occupations, ages, levels of athleticism and body shapes are represented. Despite the many differences, we all share the goal of signing up, showing up and preparation to run and finish the 2019 marathon.

Similarly to marathons, diabetes prevention, weight loss, increased exercise, better sleep and stress reduction requires a commitment, preparation and small integral steps toward a larger aggressive goal.

Just as there is diversity at the start lines, we who are trying to improve our health have different strengths and challenges. Each of us have goals, preparation and problem solving that we have to do individually but come together around events like marathons or other amateur sporting events to compete and share in the success of each other.

The diabetes prevention program is a great example of the ability of groups to share their challenges, strengths and create solutions to individual and collective problems.

To help focus the groups, there is a research-backed curriculum and a trained lifestyle coach to lead the groups. If you are interested in diabetes prevention, please join us on select Thursdays at the cafeteria at NMMC Gilmore-Amory.

Update: I finished the NYC Marathon on Nov. 3. It was a great course through all five Burroughs of New York City with close to 53,000 runners and an estimated one million spectators along the course.

It was my toughest marathon yet, but I earned the completion medal. This was my sixth marathon. Four years ago when I started running regularly, I would never have imagined running six marathons, 15 half marathons and too many to count 5K and 10K races.

Vernon Rayford, MD, PharmD, specializes in internal medicine and pediatrics at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo.

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