Embracing the Suck

Picture this:

It’s Wednesday night. The sun is going down on late-March day in Boston. The weather has warmed up a bit, but the Boston winter is still trying to bite back.

You’ve had a stressful week. Your dog tried to eat your new dog walker (a bit of an exaggeration), work has been beyond stressful with tight deadlines and new challenges, wedding planning to-do’s and budgets are staring you down, and a good night’s sleep has become the ever-chased unicorn of your life.

Even though your mind is running a mile a minute, you decide to lace up your sneakers and head to the run club you’ve neglected for the last 5 weeks. A good workout on Boston’s famed Heartbreak Hill will put both your body and your mind at ease.

After a 2-mile warmup, the workout begins. Timed repeats up Heartbreak is your workout tonight. The temperatures are quickly dropping. “Wish I thought to wear a hat and gloves,” you mumble to yourself. You’re lucky you remembered to wear matching socks with the way this week has been going. You charge on, surprising yourself with your ability to keep up in the workout. Then…the sky opens up.

Quiet rain quickly turns to cold sleet, which turns to small hail—pelting your face and your uncovered head as you push up Heartbreak. For a split second, you imagine how much more inviting snuggling up on the couch with your diva dog sounds right now in comparison. But you know, that this is the sweet spot. This moment of discomfort, this moment of suck—this is what makes you the runner you’ve always wanted to be.

 

I’ve had to force myself more recently to follow my own advice. When the going gets tough, it’s easy to give up. It’s easy to throw your hands in the air and say, “screw this.” But when you embrace the negative, embrace the suck, and re-frame the situation that you’re in—you can get through anything.

There was a great podcast from Runner Academy earlier this year where the host interviewed sports writer, coach, nutritionist, and runner Matt Fitzgerald. In the podcast, Matt talked about how we need to “embrace the suck” in order to survive winter training. Instead of focusing on how miserable you may be or how hard a certain situation is, if you create your own motivation and find a little joy in the situation, you can get through it.

So no matter what you’re going through, my advice for you today is to “embrace the suck.” Get comfortable with the discomfort. It will always get better.