Thank you for continuing to read….
My mom was loving, caring, supportive, and more concerned that we were all ok. I wish I could say the same for my dad. He dropped the hammer on me…after all, I did just total his new truck. Parents, you know what happens to your insurance rates when a 16 year old boy totals a brand new truck? My dad was wise, he already knew the answer to that question. It was 1981, police were more easily persuaded, and impressed with good old-fashion parental punishment than issuing tickets. I will always remember came next, “Son, you will do what I say, when I say it, and how I say it until you have made enough money to pay for this truck!” Learning to be gritty by choice is one thing, being forced to learn grit is not as enjoyable. For the next 18 months, I became free labor for anyone that needed help with all monetary proceeds going directly to my dad. To make things more interesting, to get to these hard labor jobs I was given three options; walk, run, or ride my bike. It became an act of work to get to work. I did some of the nastiest and hardest jobs know to man; bailing hay, walking bean fields, castrating pigs, detasseling corn, mowing yards, shoveling snow….
Again, my dad was brilliant! We discipline the ones we love…my dad must have really loved me! If you have read my previous posts, you know that I like to run. During the summer of 1981, I went from liking to run to loving to running. Farm labor is hard, farm labor is mentally taxing, farm labor tests you grit, farm labor makes you strong. Having to run or bike to all these jobs plus doing extreme manual labor had a direct positive impact on my running. I was getting faster and faster, winning more races, and getting recognized as a runner. Is it possible that a negative experience can lead to a positive experience? I began to like all the labor and running— I actually sought out hard manual labor and chose to run. I remember vividly the day my dad said, “debt paid in full.” I think my parents thought the running would stop but my running times continued to drop. I was addicted, I became the Forrest Gump of Clinton, IA from 1981-1983.
My love of running continued throughout college and into my early adult life. A genetic disorder in my right foot made me prone to stress fractures. In my running career, I have experienced 8 diagnosed stress fractures in my navicular bone. I have been in an out of running boots, and on crutches more than I like. In my mid-twenties all the running miles on my engine were causing more physical breakdowns. I still loved to compete but wearing a stress fracture boot to work got old quickly. Next up? Triathlons of course! It was a sport that had a swim and bike warm-up before the fun part, the run. That is another whole story in itself.
Why the long story and how does it apply to grit? My running career has slowly started to fizzle out, once you are considered a “fast” runner the most painful thing is to become slower and look like a “jogger”—ouch! I still do love running, it just has become more-and-more painful the past three years. Not the I am out-of-shape pain but painful as in my knees hurt when I run. I am coach, I should have known better, but I stopped doing the little things. I stopped doing the non-sexy daily consistent things that runners need to do to stay healthy. That’s a part of being gritty— doing the little things over and over again without any regard for instant gratification. It is said it takes 10 years or 10,000 hours to master an activity. I need to re-embrace delayed gratification. A big part of my 10,000 hours is the act of stretching. When I stretched regularly, I thrived as a runner.
Doing all this talking and writing about grit has re-ignited my running fire. I guess to teach grit one should model grit! Last week I ran 5 times for a total of 12 miles. More importantly, I did yoga six times last week. Guess what? My knees hurt less this week than last week. This week’s goal 5 runs for a total of 17 miles…plus 5-6 stretching sessions. Have you ever met a runner who really likes to stretch? I didn’t think so! Doing things that are hard develops grit. I do not necessarily want to become the Forrest Gump of Johnston, IA but I do believe there are some good miles left in this body.
There you go, my story. What is your story? Where do you need help, assistance , or encouragement getting over something that is hard?