Racing Ahead

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Running a family, a company and a marathon are all tough work. Here’s how one dad – Stefano Passarello – juggles his parenting duties, a demanding job and training for a recent marathon win.

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Enjoy a wide variety of healthy food. Eating well is crucial for every healthy body and mind. In our multicultural family, we combine both Asian and Western flavours to create exciting dishes, full of greens, to keep us fuelled, but also satisfied.

Be physical, and enjoy it. By being fit and enjoying exercise myself, my love for sports rubs off on people around me – it’s just the kind of role model I want to be to my son. We often kick the ball around, and while it’s not really sport yet, since he’s still little, it is physical and we both enjoy it. Combining exercise with a father-son routine provides the best excuse to ditch the BlackBerry and focus on our time together.

Be disciplined and consistent. There are only 24 hours in a day, so I think of every minute as gold. Discipline here is key. I never skip a morning run, even when I am on a business trip. When I’m home, I always try to include my family in everything I do. In the morning, when I do my laps at the beach, I’m quite lucky to have my family hang out there and cheer for me. The sweet, cheerful voice of my son saying, “Go, Daddy!” echoes in my head all day long. It’s the most wonderful way to start a work day!

Follow the rules. As a father and as an athlete, rules are important to me. If there are no rules, there are no competitions. In every race, there are winners and losers. Competitive runners don’t always strive to win or get a better ranking; our real goal is often to achieve better results in every race, and that only works when the race is fair. A Chinese proverb says There is a sky outside of the sky – there are always faster runners out there, especially at international races, but as long as I try my best, then there is nothing to regret. Teaching my son about fairness in sport will not only shape him into a better sportsman, but also into a respectable citizen.

Stick with the problem. Marathon runners sometimes “hit the wall” – a sudden physical and mental block at Racing ahead some point into a race. It’s a moment of struggle and the time when many people give up. At this year’s Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, I hit the wall at the entrance of the Western Tunnel – the 37-kilometre mark – and I stopped. But, with a bit of help from the volunteers who encouraged me to walk a little, combined with my own desire to complete the race, I was able pick up again and cross the finish line as the first Hong Kong runner. In life, we need to solve big and small problems; but, as I like to say, pain is just temporary, but pride is forever!

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