The Daily Grind

An essay about the ‘daily grind’ of running.

By on July 6, 2018 | 8 comments

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?
Andy Jones-Wilkins
Andy Jones-Wilkins finished in the top 10 men at the Western States 100 7-straight times. He's sponsored by Patagonia and Drymax socks and is iRunFar's editorialist.