The Daily Grind

AJW's TaproomIt’s midsummer here in the Northern Hemisphere, where long, lazy days and warm, sultry nights are the norm. At this time of year, training and racing seem to meld together as we complete our focus events and gear up for new ones on the horizon. Along the way, from time to time, our motivation waxes and wanes and the importance of the daily run, that consistent daily grind, becomes more evident. The daily grind is the foundation of our running lives that keeps us centered, grounded, and progressing forward.

After many years of ups and downs in running, I have come to realize that three characteristics define the successful runner, the runner who can withstand the daily grind. They are consistency, discipline, and optimism.

Whether it’s a hilly six miler in a local park or a flat four miler through the neighborhood, the key to long-term running success is getting after it day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. In my opinion, there is no substitute for consistent, regular practice. Certainly life issues, injuries, and other challenges can disrupt consistency but the best runners I know run through that stuff anyway, forging on toward a more steady, consistent daily routine that, in many ways, informs the rest of their lives. Once consistency is established, even the most insurmountable obstacles don’t seem so hard and it becomes our bedrock.

From the foundation of consistency, the successful daily grinder must then develop discipline. While it is one thing to do something regularly day after day, it is another thing entirely to do it with a focus and purpose. That focus and purpose requires a disciplined body and mind. Setting goals, adapting to change, formulating plans, and accepting setbacks must all be part of the disciplined runner’s toolbox. And, once assembled, that toolbox holds the key to a treasure trove a daily rewards that are often revealed when we least expect and most need it.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, success with the daily grind demands optimism. While consistency and discipline form the foundation, optimism creates the framework for ongoing improvement. The positive runner simply has more fun. In the midst of a challenging training cycle or faced with miserable weather, the optimist finds a silver lining and forges on regardless. No matter how bad things get, in my experience, a good run (or even a bad run for that matter) always makes them a little better and makes getting through the rest of the day a little easier.

So, the next time you are looking ahead to your daily grind–as you plan for next week, next month, or next year–remember that it all starts with what you are doing today, tomorrow, and the day after that. If on those days you remain mindful of consistency, discipline, and optimism, both in your running and life, that daily grind may just grind a bit less and become a little bit better.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

This week’s Beer of the Week comes from Jester King Brewery in Austin, Texas. I was recently fortunate enough to have a friend send me a bottle of Jester King’s Noble King Hoppy Farmhouse Ale and it was outstanding. Just a tad hoppy and crafted in a classic saison style, Noble King is a wonderfully simple version of this increasingly popular style.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • What does the ‘daily grind’ mean to you and how dedicated are you to the routine of your running? Do you run at the same time or in the same places  most days?
  • Despite what could be considered as repetitive, are you able to approach your daily run with the creativity and open mind you need to do the day’s specific workout?

There are 8 comments

  1. syl pascale

    Yes Andy, consistency, discipline, and optimism are key, for me I had the D’s. Disciple, Determination, Drive, & Desire. Consistency was never an issue as I couldn’t wait to run everyday. Nice meeting you up on the trail above Squaw Valley, I had a great time hiking with Kim too.

  2. Nathan

    That’s interesting about running through injury. In the past I’ve taken time off, but my current injury I took 3 months off (I took one month off, and a PT said I should continue not running) and it didn’t get better.

    I still haven’t gotten better but I have started running again and I think that’s what I need to do. Not sure when my foot will get better, but if rest doesn’t make it better I may as well run if it doesn’t make it worse!

  3. Thomas Fritz also known as crazy ise or isegalkarl

    I do not know about what kind of a runner You are talking about. I am a runner since 1974, and I call myself a runner, because I love to run. I do not need consistency, discipline or optimism. The only thing I need is going out of the door to do what I love most in life and that is running. The things called necessary for a so called successful runner maybe important for racers but for me as a runner, the only thing what counts is going for a run and have fun doing it. I do not need a watch, a heart rate monitor a bibnumber a membership on strava or ultrasignupipapo, I need a pair of random runnings shoes, a running short and a shirt (depending on the time of year maybe 2 or 3 layers). And please do not tell anybody to run through injury or sickness. I got one body in this short life, and it is my duty to take care of it as good as I can, to make a nice home for my soul….so I am a runner and I never run, when my body tells me not to..there is no running streak for me: I prefer resting my body when it needs rest, so it has fun running later on.

    1. Andie

      I’m in your camp. I have been running for 38 of my 54 years. Although I used to run 6 days a week, two knee surgeries have me down to 2-4 days a week. I run trails I run marathons I run beaches. I run hills. I run track. Don’t anyone tell me I’m not a runner cause I don’t run every day. The only daily grind I need is my Nespresso

  4. Elliot

    I think a few people here have misunderstood the article. It’s not suggesting that you run every day, simply that you run consistently through what life throws at you. Running has its ups and downs. Sometimes I have a bad run but I love running in itself and I know that it’ll be better next time. I don’t think the article is at all trying to separate ‘real’ runners from say casual joggers.

  5. Aron

    Great read, and such a true testament. Runners run for all sorts of reasons and push through some of the greatest feats. Runners are consistent in not just running, but a daily routine. We are disciplined and optimistic in many ways that build our own character. Thank you for sharing and keep pursuing what you love as we all do, running.

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