Patience in Trying Times

AJW's TaproomSeveral years back here in AJW’s Taproom, I wrote a series of articles on ultrarunning and metacognitive skills. After outlining the concepts in an introductory article, I wrote pieces on persistenceresiliencepatiencecourage, and grit. I have been reflecting on these skills over the past several months as we have confronted the myriad challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic. One skill in particular, patience, seems to be particularly relevant to these times.

In recent weeks as the pandemic has worn on and many areas of the country and the world have seen a surge in cases, we have heard a lot about fatigue. It seems that this fatigue is coming in several forms. People are growing weary of wearing masks, frustrated about not being able to gather in groups, and increasingly disappointed about the lack of any normalcy in their lives. Societal impatience has subsequently crept in and people have let their guard down, been less vigilant in their compliance with guidelines, and tensions have emerged as a result.

Long-distance ultrarunning teaches us to be patient. In a long run, we actually have no choice but to be patient and the impatient ultrarunner more often than not ends up on the DNF list. How many times have you struggled to keep your pace sensible in the early parts of an ultra knowing that you need to preserve energy? And how often have you become increasingly frustrated by the elements? Rain, wind, and heat, these can all test the limits of our patience. Yet, in ultrarunning, as we experience these challenges, we build up patience, almost like a muscle, and we become more well equipped to handle those times when impatience rules the day.

With the prospect of the pandemic continuing into 2021 and beyond, now is the time for those of us who have honed our patience skills over long hours on the trail to encourage others to do the same. Like when you look around at mile 75 of a 100 miler, everybody is tired, everybody has sore legs, and everybody has at least some inkling of wanting to stop running through their minds. And, it is in those moments when we most need to summon the patience to reject the feelings of frustration and despair and forge on.

So, as we enter into what will undoubtedly be a long, rough next few months, lean into the skills we have learned over our years of long-distance running. When you feel the urge to let your guard down and take off your mask, attend a mass event, or eschew social distancing, remember those times when a long-distance run forced you to accept your current reality, no matter how difficult, and just deal with it. After all, that’s pretty much what we all have to do to get through this anyway.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

This week’s Beer of the Week comes from Libertine Brewing Company in San Luis Obispo, California. Known in recent years for their sour and wild ales, I recently was able to sample a bottle of their Autumn Leaves Farmhouse Ale. Brewed with equinox hops and featuring a tart finish, Autumn Leaves is, not surprisingly, a perfect beer for a crisp fall evening.

Call for Comments

  • Are you using the patience you’ve honed through trail running and ultrarunning to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • What other parts of life require a bit more of your patience now than usual?

There are 6 comments

  1. Andreas

    Thanks for yet another interesting and entertaining article! Always looking forward to Fridays to read your column!
    As it is the case in the US, the pandemic is starting to really annoy people here in Europe (In my case Switzerland). And even as an ultrarunner my patience gets more than a real test.
    I actually think that I am not a very patient person all while being a pretty decent ultrarunner. I sometimes wonder if it is just me, but at times I find it very difficult to transfer skills from ultrarunning (like the ones mentioned by AJW) into everyday life. And I find that in particular difficult when it comes to patience. Maybe there is some kind of an ultrarunning-me and a coexisting everyday-me, with different mindsets and different strengths and weaknesses?
    While I do not question the more than positive effects of ultrarunning for my whole life and my person, I sometimes still believe that there exists above described coexistence.

  2. AT

    AJ Dub’s Taproom always coincides so well with my coffee and oatmeal. Stay strong y’all! Only way to get through these weird times is right through it. Much love!

  3. Jen W.

    I think the long runs have helped me with the uncertainty we all live with here in the US. Somedays it helps me navigate Distance Learning with my son. Then there are the days where I am emotional and impatient. It comes in waves and then it flows back out and I feel at peace. Wishing you all peace in your daily life and out on the trails.

  4. A.A.

    Loved this Friday’s column! Using this skill in combination with my favourite German running song…

    “Monoton und Minimal
    Meine Welt ist ganz total”

  5. SageCanaday

    Well written AJW!
    Yes, as soon as COVID19 hit the US hard I instantly went into an “ultra mindset” (even still now). As predicted this Fall/Winter is going to be rough…

    My first thought was on the timescale of effective and safe vaccine development and distribution (long term solution). Instantly the idea of competitive racing took a backseat.

    While it is sad to me we must wear masks and social distance, it is obviously for the greater good and for a brighter future! Well done and hope you all are staying healthy!

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