Anyone who has spent time training with me has experienced their share of steep, mountainous runs. I’ve been taking athletes out to run mountains and hills for as long as I can remember. Such runs are both physically and mentally taxing. I can learn a lot about an athlete by just observing how they respond to the challenge. For example, I’ll quickly see what kind of shape they are in and how they deal with adversity. As a coach, that’s priceless feedback.
There’s one particular road that my athletes know as The Mountain. I’ve never seen anyone get excited about running it. It’s a long, steep road that’s filled with suck. There’s nothing enjoyable about running the mountain. It’s one of those runs where you just can’t wait to be finished. And when you do finally reach the top, profanities usually pour from the mouth. It’s a good thing that the mountain doesn’t have ears as it’s been called every word in the book.
Embrace the Suck
Last week I jokingly shared my post-workout feelings on Twitter after running the mountain.
Afterward, I received a few messages from people who were surprised to see me utter such words. For instance, one person wrote the following:
“Ross, I thought you enjoyed working out? What’s changed?”
For starters, nothing has changed. Even though I despise every step of the mountain run, I also love it in twisted way. I suppose you could say that there’s a love-hate relationship between me and the mountain. And I believe that relationship is worthy of a discussion.
In recent years, the fitness industry has really shifted its attention towards marketing an easier and faster way. Whatever it is that you want to achieve, there’s always going to be someone who promises an easier way to get there. That’s a mistake.
Personally, I’d rather preach the truth. As I’ve said before, there is no fast or easy way to achieve anything worthwhile. Pushing yourself to the next level often requires that you become comfortable with the uncomfortable. In other words, you’ve got to eventually embrace the suck. You can’t always turn your back on things that are difficult or uncomfortable.
Accomplishment Requires Sacrifice
Over the years, I’ve often stated that I enjoy working out. Certain readers have taken that statement too literally however. The fact that I enjoy training doesn’t mean that each session is filled with smiles and bliss. It doesn’t work that way.
I enjoy working out not because of how I feel during the session. The real joy comes after the fact. That feeling of accomplishment is the ultimate reward. Thus, even though I might loathe every step of the mountain run, there’s a tremendous sense of accomplishment that’s experienced when we reach the top. That feeling is worth all of the pain and discomfort that comes before.
Unfortunately, the fitness powers that be have fooled many people today into believing that they should enjoy every second of every session. Not only are those expectations unrealistic, they are also counterproductive. And I don’t say this to suggest that you shouldn’t enjoy certain aspects of your training. Speaking for myself, there are exercises and activities that I genuinely enjoy. I don’t limit myself to those activities however. I accept that there will be times when I must push myself though uncomfortable places to achieve what I want to achieve.
Don’t expect an easy road if you aspire to excel beyond the norm.
Whoever said life is supposed to be easy was wrong. You don’t need a life coach to recognize that life is everything but easy. Every adult in this world has experienced their share of hardship. With that in mind, I believe it’s important to change our perception of adversity. Life’s tough so the best way to deal with it is by making ourselves tougher.
One way to do that is by embracing the suck that arises during certain challenges. Not only will you come out a better person, but you’ll also have a chance to revel in the accomplishments that come after the fact.
Taking the road less traveled won’t always be fun, but it’s often the shortest path towards success. It’s won’t be easy and you’ll pay plenty of tolls along the way, but the journey and results that follow will make it more than worthwhile.
Embrace the suck and keep on grinding.
“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.” – Jim Rohn