It Really Is All About Attitude

AJWs TaproomOver the past week I have had two amazing opportunities to see runners working hard, pushing themselves, and attempting to suck all they can out of the experience of simply running.

First, at the Lookout Mountain Aid Station at last weekend’s Grindstone 100 Mile and then this Wednesday at a local middle-school cross-country race here in Charlottesville, Virginia I had the distinct privilege of watching people do what I love to do. It was a singular gift.

And, while the distances and experiences were vastly different, what struck me as remarkably similar was the importance of attitude and mindset in the runners and the impact that had on the eventual outcome.

Those of us who’ve been around running for any length of time know that often what is between the ears is every bit as important as what’s on the ground. And certainly, at mile 72 of a 100-mile race, all kinds of suffering is taking place. Feet are throbbing, quads are seizing, and stomachs are rumbling. Yet for those with a sunny disposition, it is often possible to push through and come out the other side more or less unscathed.

The same is true, I daresay, for young cross-country runners pushing the edge of their abilities against their peers and the clock. Even though the distance is often less than two miles in total, the suffering is uniquely deep. As the taste of blood seeps into your mouth and your leg muscles become flooded with lactic acid, you often want nothing more than to stop, sit down, and re-group.

And yet the best of us do not. The best of us take what the day has handed us and forge on. We summon the strength and endurance from every reserve available to us and try, often desperately, to keep moving forward. And if our minds are working and our attitude is trending upward, even in the midst of extraordinary pain, we typically make ourselves think we are okay until we are, indeed, alright. I saw it in action last week and I look forward to seeing it in action for years to come. For it is the struggle in the face of adversity, the sheer fact that we are doing this in the first place, that ultimately makes it all worthwhile in the end.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

Oskar Blues IPAThis week’s Beer of the Week comes from a Taproom favorite, Oskar Blues. These guys have outdone themselves with such go-tos as Dale’s Pale Ale, Deviant Dale’s, and Gubna. Now, they just released a simple IPA and you know what, it’s on point. Get it. It will change your attitude.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • When was the last time that everything went to pieces in a race or long run except for your good attitude, which got you through with plenty of time and energy to spare?
  • Do you ever ‘fake it until you make it?’ As in, do you ever pretend you’re happy when, suddenly, at some point you actually do feel good again? In running? In somewhere else in life?

There are 2 comments

  1. KickingStones

    AJW – Thank you and everyone at the Lookout Mtn aid station. Grindstone this year had such a great spirit and it was all that a 100 mile race should be. While it may not have the prestige of other races, Clark Zealand delivers a truly worthy experience and his volunteers are a major part of that. I could not have had a better time in the mountains.

    1. Andy

      Well, that pretty much sums it up: attitude and gratitude. Less than a week after spending an extremely long time grinding through the forests, up and over mountains, battling all the familiar pains and other woes that would thwart the hardiest, the conclusion is "I could not have had a better time in the mountains." Attitude, or delusion? Either way, we all know it well. And it is good.

  2. ClownRunner

    For this 4-day work week I set a goal of crossing a different DC bridge each morning on my 4 daily run-commutes into our nation's capital. I felt terrible on Tuesday crossing the Roosevelt Bridge, only slightly better on Wednesday crossing the Key Bridge, then Thursday I went long and hobbled over the 14th St. Bridge. Today, Friday morning, I trudged across the Memorial Bridge, asking myself when I would ever feel good running again. And then, like magic, with about 2 miles to go until I reached my office, I started to feel good, then great, then awesome. It took 4 days of trudging, grumbling, and doubting…but eventually the moment happened.

  3. robsargeant

    At the Whistler 50 Miler last year I ran into stomach problems halfway into the ultra due to a drink offered at the aid stations that I had never tried before that day. Big mistake. The course was a 20km loop repeated four times. Attitude was the only thing that got me through the last loop. I was finished but determined to keep things positive. I was shaking hands and giving high fives to the volunteers at the street crossings and aid stations happy that it would be the last time I would see them. I made it, and even picked up some speed in the final 10kms, just making it into the Men's Masters top 10.

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