I recently arrived in another country, where I must spend 14 days in quarantine before leaving my property. As an #enduranceathlete, continuing to get in a workout is critical to my identity and mental health. So I strapped on my trainers and headed off to circle the yard for 6 miles.
With one trip around as roughly .1 mile, 60 laps as much mental challenge as physical. But it was not without some good #enduranceleadership lessons :
1) Just do it. Half the battle when things are tough is fighting the seduction of inertia. Give yourself a push to take that first no-fun step, and things will get easier.
2) Setting even a small goal can open the door to a larger one. At first, I told myself I’d go four miles and see how I felt. Once I got in my rhythm, pushing to six wasn’t that bad. Start with something reasonable, and you can always do more!
3) With what you have, WORK! Look, these days, it’s very easy to get caught up in what’s not available to us. Instead, take what you have and give it everything you’ve got. I knew I could run faster on the pavement than on the very uneven grass, so I focused my hard efforts there and eased up on the terrain. There’s always at least a small opportunity to work a little bit harder.
4) Focus on what you can control. I could not control my environment; I could only control myself. So, I spent my mental energy on proper running form (thanks, Coach Mo!): glute and core focus, footstrike, soft landings, etc. As a result, I felt like the adversity made me stronger, improving my running form partially because I was not in ideal running conditions. And I was definitely building my #mentaltoughness.
5) Gratitude makes it easier. We hear a lot about gratitude these days, and there’s a reason for that. Gratitude is shown to have a positive impact on athlete performance, job satisfaction, and job performance and lead to a long-lasting, positive impact on the brain. Once I got going, I began to think about how lucky I was that I could run at all. I was in a safe place with clean air. My family is safe, healthy, and we have everything we might want or need. As I tuned into this gratitude, my mood shifted (endorphins may have helped as well). I began to enjoy myself. I actually finished my last few miles faster than the first, and I was happier than when I started.
As you face some mundane, challenging, or not-so-fun moments in the year ahead, remember that #enduranceleaders find ways to grow in adversity. Happy New Year!