Quote of the Month
"If you want to be in charge of the pain, you have to let it in. That’s the key to being able to endure a lot of pain - it’s to know it intimately, it’s coming along for the ride but it doesn’t get to drive and sure as sh*t can't pick the music." -Scott Fauble (2:12 marathoner + 7th place at 2018 NYC Marathon)
By Coach Dan Walters
I’ve always had an old school view on pain and discomfort, clearly introduced to me by my father. That view summarized as follows: if you’re doing something difficult and you want to succeed, you’re going to have to pay the price of admission. The challenge will hurt, it will knock you down, and it will frustrate you. I was taught to be ready for this pain and to fight back. I was taught that if I wanted to overcome the challenge badly enough, I could withstand anything and get what was mine.
But how do we actually develop that fight and toughness? Does it just happen by willing ourselves there? If I say I want it bad enough, will I come through when the chips are down? Just because I say I’ll run through a wall 20 miles into a marathon, will I actually do it when I’m tired and my brain is begging for respite?
I thought about a lot of this on our recent hike in Patagonia - 5 days covering 80 miles of rocky, hilly terrain. We each carried a 30+ pound pack with all of our food and gear. And while we did get pretty darn lucky with the weather, we faced quite a bit of cold, wind, and some rain. We were sweaty, smelly, hungry, tired and sore for five days. I’ve tackled a fair amount of physical challenges, but this one was difficult in its relentless grind.
Don’t get me wrong, it was all worth it. We saw some of the most breathtaking mountains, lakes, and glaciers imaginable. However, no matter the scenery, I found myself with aching feet and depleted energy midway through each of the last few days. And as is human nature, I immediately felt sorry for myself. “If I’m this tired now, how the hell am I going to make it 4 more hours? This hurts and it sucks.” I’m not sure if any of us can ever rewire our brain to avoid this gut reaction; instinctual emotions are nearly impossible to avoid. But we DO have control over how we react to these emotions once they arrive.
So on this trip, in those moments of pain, I worked to identify when I was having a pity party and consciously decide to just sit with my pain. Not dodge it, not wish it away, not wiggle out of it. And I didn’t grit my teeth to bully right through it. But instead, I welcomed the pain. I invited it into my house and let it sit down with me. I decided to calmly and quietly have a discussion with the pain and with my body. “My feet hurt, really bad. But that’s all it really is, it just hurts. Nothing is wrong, just my feet sending signals to my brain. All is good, I will deal with this.” I was able to calm my mind and diminish the power the pain previously had over me. I worked to turn off the alarms blaring in my head and calmly walked myself through the discomfort.
And you can practice this in your life without loving the outdoors, climbing mountains or wrestling with grizzly bears. We so often get caught in normal unplanned situations where we’re downright uncomfortable.
Waiting outside for the bus in the freezing cold?
Getting a blister on your run?
Get caught in the rain with no umbrella?
Need to climb a bunch of stairs after your run?
All of these things suck. You can either lean away from them or lean right into them. Don’t throw away these opportunities to harden yourself mentally. If you lean away from these uncomfortable moments in daily life when your mind is clear, how will you ever lean into pain when your mind is compromised during training and racing? As you gain better control over your emotions in life, you’ll be able to bring these skills over to your big workouts and races. You’ll have loads of practice staring down pain, calmly pushing it aside and continuing to take care of your business.
And let’s not confuse this development of toughness with bullishly working through everything. If it’s not safe to run outside, if you’re sick, feeling an injury coming on, or are mentally overwhelmed by the stresses of life - it’s important to listen to those signals and back off.
But if you are faced with ‘normal’ running discomfort or crappy weather that’s still safe to run in - calmly stand up to the challenge and work through it!
Our 2019 kickoff & team kit distribution will be post-LR at Naperville Running Co. on Jan 19 - whether running or not, join us!
We have a new partner - Goose Island Brewing! Join us for monthly runs w/ free first beer - first up, Jan 10! Bring family & friends!
The Daniel Burnham Open is a fun (& free) 4k cross country race put on by coach Dan Kittaka (amongst others). Come on out & race on Jan 20!
Running the Pettit Indoor Marathon Relay? Fill out your plans here.
Racing the Boston Marathon? Fill out your plans here.
An Illustration by Coach Dan Kittaka
"Hunger is the best sauce in the world." - Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote
December Race Highlights
Rutger Stache - Cal International Marathon - 3:19:27
Kurtis Conkel - Cal International Marathon - 3:22:19
Jessica Sokolowski - Frigid 5k - 20:05 (& 2nd female!)
Rudy Valenta - NYRR Ted Corbitt 15k - 1:01:52
Top Placings & Age Group Wins
Catharine Carlin - YMCA Santa 5k - 21:28 (2nd female!)
Erin Chenoweth - Santa Monica Venice Christmas Run - 19:28 (2nd female!)
Things We're Vibing
If you see anything worth sharing, please let us know!
Upcoming Events & Major Races
1/5 - LR @ Morton Arboretum
1/5 - Self Defense Workshop
1/10 - Easy Run / Pint Night @ Goose Island
(Sun) 1/13 - LR @ Algonquin
1/19 - LR, Gear Day, & Team Event @ Naperville Running Co.
1/26 - No formal LR, team at Pettit Indoor Marathon Relay
Check out the calendar (and add it to your own calendar!) here.
1/3 - Shawn Lucas
1/5 - Alex Gonzalez
1/7 - Moira Ryan, Molly Barnes
1/12 - Ryan Gooding
1/14 - John Brassea
1/19 - Rutger Stache
1/20 - Dean Orvis, Kaitlyn Clark
Meet the Newest DWRunners!