Andrew Raynor Dover
By Mike Tarrolly for Crushing Iron
I want to know why we do things . . . why I do things. I thought about this a lot on the second loop of the run at Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga.
The day was blistering and my legs were about to crumble as I ran by people in shade taking pictures and drinking cool drinks. I thought I might pass out and kept asking why on earth would I do something like this?
Probably because it’s hard.
This question has rattled my brain since last October at Ironman Louisville when I had ZERO desire to run the second loop of the marathon course. The day was cold and windy, the bike had deflated me, and around mile 9 of the run, I was basically done. But there was no way I could quit.
The other day I landed on David Goggins’s Instagram feed and saw this post. He more or less boiled the answer down to “Do something every day that sucks.”
A post shared by David Goggins (@davidgoggins) on
His point is training your mind to deal with things that are hard makes the every day life challenges we face easier. I think that is really easy to lose focus of when you’re slogging through a long run or a 6 hour ride in training. It’s not about the vanity or the ability to do an Ironman, but the ability to do something hard and how that slowly changes the way you approach life.
I was reminded about Goggins when I listened to a Joe Rogan podcast with Jesse Itzler who wrote “Living With A Seal” which is the story of how he invited David Goggins to live with him for a month. Itzler had been cruising through life in a pattern and felt stuck. Goggins had one goal, to flip Jesse’s life upside down.
Itzler sighted a funny story of one night in Connecticut when he and Goggins were sitting around and the TV was flashing “Winter storm warnings” of sleet, ice, and dangerous winds. The newscasters were urging everyone to “stay inside because of life threatening danger.” Goggins was watching too and said, “This is awesome, let’s go for a run!” And they did. 10 Miles in the sleet and dangerous wind. At the end, Goggins threw a big boulder into the ice on the lake behind Itzler’s home and jumped in the freezing water. Jesse, of course, was made to follow.
They did it because it was hard . . . and they could.
I think about that a lot, too. What a privilege it is to just be ABLE to do something like an Ironman. When I started running at age 48, I “thought” I could barely run a mile. But as it turns out, I could run 26, after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles. What other abilities am I grossly underestimating in myself?
I never thought I could actually finish a film, but I did. And you know what, it was HARD. It took almost two years alone for the edit. But now that I’ve done it, I know I can do more. Maybe 26 more? Why not.
Joe Rogan is another big believer in doing things that are hard. In that podcast he had a great rant about how we are genetically disposed to survival and our body NEEDS to move and do difficult things in order to stay strong and grow.
I couldn’t agree more, but the challenge becomes doing something “harder” than Ironman or the training. It’s such a grind that I believe the more you do it, the more important it is to add different challenges to the routine. Because at some point the hardest part becomes breaking the routine.
Maybe it’s rolling tires or climbing a mountain or running an ultra. Maybe it’s cold showers or living with the monks.
I’ve done 5 Ironman races in 5 years and it’s become very difficult to think about doing another one, but a part of me wants it in a bad way. It’s a feeling you can’t explain, but when you get close to a finish line after 140 miles, you change inside. You’ve done something very difficult that nobody can take away. But as I’ve realized, it’s never the end, it’s just a new beginning into the world of doing something else hard.
Check out our latest podcast: Finding (and Keeping) Your WHY
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Here’s our latest Ironman Tribute video from IM 70.3 Texas featuring Coach Robbie and C26 Athlete Somer Scandridge.