Embrace the Suck

I joined a running club in my town and really like it. All levels of runners participate and regularly meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I’m only a couple of weeks in but already feel like a better a runner because of it.

I think it’s the pacing that I like more than anything. When I check my running stats, I don’t see wild swings in my splits. The group knows how to handle pacing, and I think some of that comes from the fact that they talk while running. On my last run someone yelled out to the front that they were running too fast and to tell a story about their first time running the Boston Marathon. Tactics like that keep the group moving at a consistent pace.

One of the conversations I had when I first joined was with a runner training for the Chicago Marathon. We talkedĀ about the challenges of training for marathon. I’ve never run a marathon but it’s something I want to do. I asked her a bunch of questions. What I really wanted to know was what happens when you start hitting those fifteen plus mile runs. She said she learned to “embrace the suck” to get through all the tough runs.

Embrace the suck

The sun wasn’t out yet, but if she could see my face at 5:30 in the morning, she would’ve seen a huge smile. The phrase “embrace the suck” is something I just read in Mark Divine’s book The Way of the SEAL. It’s a solid read about learning the Navy Seal mindset to take on challenges in any aspect of life. Real pragmatic advice that you don’t need to be a Seal Operative to use.

My new runner friend and I talked about embracing the suck. She learned it from her father who was in the Army – twenty years plus I think. He always challenged her to dig deep when things got tough. Embrace the suck.

After reading the Way of the Seal and talking to this runner, embracing the suck is about accepting that things are hard. You can complain and pout that it’s not fair, but everyone faces challenges and you (me) are no different.

Long run in ten degree temps? Embrace the suck.

The only time to run is before the sun is up? Embrace the suck.

Want to run ten miles but only have time for three? Embrace the suck.

I think what the phrase teaches us is that for running (or anything in life) conditions are never ideal and challenges are always waiting for us. Take on whatever is waiting and push through. Keep at it long enough and you’ll grow and become stronger.

With my latest running injury, I was off the road for about eight weeks. It sucked but learned I had to deal with it. Injuries happen so I decided to focus on getting stronger, read up on training, and heal. I’m coming out this running injury a little smarter and stronger runner. It all started when I decided to embrace the suck.

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