The Grind

(TCU Baseball, YouTube video)

Rise and shine. It’s 6am and your hand can’t make it to the alarm clock before the voices in your head before the voices in your head start telling you that it’t too early, too dark, and too cold to get out of bed. Aching muscles lie still in rebellion, pretending not to hear your brain commanding them to move. A legion of voices are shouting their unanimous permission for you to hit the snooze button and go back to dream land. But you didn’t ask their opinion. The voice you’ve chose to listen to is one of defiance, a voice that says there was a reason you set that alarm in the first place, so sit up, put your feet on the floor, and don’t look back because we’ve got work to do. Welcome to the grind. For what is each day but a series of conflicts between the right way and the easy way. Ten thousand streams fan out like a river delta before you, each one promising the path of least resistance. The thing is, you’re headed upstream. And when you make that choice, when you decide to turn your back on what’s comfortable, what’s safe, and what some would call common sense. Well that’s day 1. From there it only gets tougher. So just make sure this is something you want. Because the easy way out will always be there, ready to wash you away. All you have to do is pick up your feet. But you aren’t going to are you? With each step comes the decision to make another. You’re on your way now but this is no time to dwell on how far you’ve come. You’re in a fight against an opponent that you can’t see, but oh you can feel him on your heels can’t you? Feel him breathing down your neck. You know what that is? That’s you. Your fears, your doubts and insecurities all lined up like a firing squad, ready to shoot you out of the sky. But don’t lose heart. While they aren’t easily defeated they are far from invincible. Remember, this is the grind, the battle royale between you, and your mind, your body and the devil on your shoulder who’s telling you that this is just a game, this is just waste of time, your opponents are stronger than you. Drown out the voice of uncertainty with the sound of your own heartbeat. Burn away your self doubt with a fire lit beneath you. Remember what we’re fighting for and never forget that momentum is a cruel mistress. She can turn on a dime with the smallest mistake. She is ever searching for the weak place in your armor, that one tiny thing that you forgot to prepare for. So as long as the devil is hiding the details, the question remains: is that all you got? Are you sure? And when the answer is yes, and when you’ve done all you  can to prepare yourself for battle, then it’s time to go forth and boldly face your enemy, the enemy within. Only now you must take that fight into the open, into hostile territory. You’re a lion in a field of lions, all hunting the same elusive prey with a desperate starvation that says victory is the only thing that can keep you alive. So believe that voice that says you can run a little faster and you can throw a little harder and then for you the laws of physics are merely a suggestion. Luck is the last dying wish of those who wanna believe that winning can happen by accident. Sweat on the other hand is for those who know it’s a choice. So decide now, because destiny waits for no man. And when your time comes and a thousand different voices are trying to tell you you’re not ready for it, listen instead to that lone voice in decent, the one that says you are ready, you are prepared. It’s all up to you now. So rise and shine.

100 Mantras

In no particular order, here are mantras that I’ve compiled over the years. They apply to training and life, in general. The mantras can range from quotes to goals…thoughts to notes. Enjoy:

 

  1. Be Like Water.
  2. What does it feel like when I’m running? I don’t know. Sorta feels good. I sorta stiffen up but once I get going, I like forget everything. And I sorta disappear. I can feel a change in my whole body. And I got this fire in my body. I’m just there. Flyin’. Like a bird. Like electricity. Yeah, like electricity.
  3. Ice is king. -Rob Krar
  4. Make mountains out of molehills.
  5. We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope. -MLK
  6. Time waits for no man.
  7. Pain be damned.
  8. I run far. Very far. I go to a Dark Place and I control the pain. -Rob Krar
  9. Structured stress leads to positive adaptation.
  10. Fix your eyes on the mountain. Let the past be dead and gone. -Crowder
  11. There’s so much comfort in the loneliness.
  12. Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.
  13. Shut up, legs. -Jens Voigt
  14. Those who excel are those who maximize each moment’s creative potential.
  15. No miler wants to show it when the lactic acid floods in and eats away the will.
  16. It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light.
  17. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.
  18. Running to the death makes me feel more alive.
  19. Rule yourself.
  20. Always lead. Never follow.
  21. The harder is gets, the easier it becomes.
  22. Darkness deserves gratitude. It is the alleluia point at which we learn to understand that all growth does not take place in the sunlight.
  23. The highs are so elating which makes the lows so painful.
  24. We’re just racing time. Where’s the finish line?
  25. It is precious to me, though I buy it with great pain.
  26. Ride the wind.
  27. Better to burn out than fade away.
  28. You have to be a little crazy to accomplish greatness. If you’re not, you’re never gonna take the necessary risks to become great.
  29. The flower doesn’t dream of the bee. It blossoms and the bee comes.
  30. Simple ain’t easy.
  31. Being afraid is a priceless education.
  32. Your heart is free. Have the courage to follow it.
  33. Life begins just on the other side of your comfort zone.
  34. Don’t go where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.
  35. I start the day. The war begins.
  36. I don’t know if I can come back from this. But, I’ll tell you what…I’m gonna die tryin’. -Kobe
  37. Take the road less traveled.
  38. I like the head mechanics that come with the 5k and 10k, but I like the grittiness of the Mile.
  39. If the fire is hot enough, anything will burn.
  40. This world is such a beautiful place. The only way I can fully respect and appreciate it is to be out in it…on it…running, moving, working, breathing, sweating.
  41. In a long, grueling endurance event, it kindles a feeling of excitement and adventure, along with a “survival mode” attitude. During it, when faced with uncertainty and doubt, the result is profound self-examination and discovery.
  42. Running is so attractive because we never know 100% what is going to happen out there…or how we will feel…or what we will see, feel, smell. It’s a relentless pursuit of sensual curiosity.
  43. No matter your goals, there is no time frame to reach them. No limit. Your whole life is the time range. Goals may change over time due to injury or circumstance, but you should never stray from being THE BEST YOU THAT YOU CAN BE, every day. Period.
  44. Respect the mountain. Respect the hills. Respect the distance. The speed. The grind. The task.
  45. You never “conquer” the mountain. You are just permitted to stand on it. -John Muir
  46. A man can be himself only so long as he is alone. And if he does not love solitude, he does not love freedom. For it is only when he is alone that he is truly free.
  47. I can crack any Da Vinci code out there.
  48. One of my biggest fears in life is being unprepared. If I’m unprepared, doubt will creep into my mind.
  49. I’m a competitor, but in the sport of long-distance running and endurance events, it’s different. I’m not going out there every day with aggression, rage, and the figurative juices flowing. No. Those emotions reveal themselves when I compete within myself on workout days, days when I feel tired, against the clock, and, above all, in competition against my competitors. I’m a silent killer out there. However, the everyday run in nature, I try to slow everything down and take in the freedom and beauty of it all one step, one foot placement, one breath, one root at a time.
  50. Sometimes, all it takes is a single, solid, hard, honest, sweaty effort endured over a couple hours…one amazing session…one day full of regimented training and it all comes back to you.
  51. There is no way to be 100% prepared for an ultra. In training, you do your best with the time you put into it and you can arrive at the line confident in your abilities. But, there is always a certain portion of the race where the unknown comes into play and the race/environment/loneliness will test your mental and spiritual fortitude even more than the physical.
  52. This is the hidden aspect of mountain running that hikers or even road/track runners can never understand and will never know about. It is the ineffable secret of those who have diligently paid their dues and over time become intimate confidants with a landscape that, to many, typically only represents an obstacle to be conquered. Why, the hikers will ask, do you run these beautiful trails? Aren’t you afraid of missing the views, the scenery? The road runners will claim, I don’t want to sprain an ankle, scrape a knee, or thrash about at 12 minute pace when I can cruise the black-top hitting six minute miles with a perfect rhythm. The answer, of course, is that, for me at least, the sheer felt kinesthetic sensation of a stretch of well-run trail unquestionably trumps the quality of any of those other experiences. When things are going well– when they’re clicking on that unconscious, unforceable, primal plane of existence where every fiber is preternaturally aligned to the task of effortlessly traversing ground–there is a sense of everything being in its exact right place, right here, right now. It’s as if I am the leading star in my own life and at that moment I’m absolutely nailing the role. To me, that type of experience is unassailable in its value. And it doesn’t happen while hiking. Or fighting cars for a section of pavement. It seems to require rocks, roots, and a significant gradient. -Anton Krupicka
  53. The only way to put perspective on my attitude while riding my bike this far is to relate the unfortunate fact that due to injury sustained through running, I was unable to run AT ALL for over a month. That’s right, from mid-August until “four to six weeks” after mid-August (according to the exorbitantly-expensive doctors I saw), I was forbidden from running a step. And since I have rarely been accused of being patient or reasonable, my attitude in the month prior to my bike tour was so bad as to be unrelatable. Suffice it to say that just about anything would be an improvement. I guess what I mean is that it’s never so bad that it can’t get worse, but the thing about attitude is that it’s sort of up to each of us to decide how we feel, which sounds like the kind of uncharacteristically-reasonable perspective that would just piss me right the hell off when my attitude is trending darkish. But that’s why I do my best to avoid perspective at all and just grind my emotions into exhaustion. Hence, a bike tour. -Dakota Jones
  54. One had to trick or seize or submit to the grace of each moment, which, except for those unexpected and sometimes well-deserved moments when consciousness and grace came together (and one felt on the consequence, heroic), were usually occasions of some mystery. The pleasure of speaking in public was the sensitivity it offered: with every phrase one was better or worse, close or less close to the existential promise of truth, it feels true, which hovers on good occasions like a presence between speaker and audience. Sometimes one was better, and worse, at the same moment; so strategic choices on the continuation of the attack would soon have to be decided, a moment to know the blood of the gambler in oneself.
  55. Runners, like painters, gardeners, musicians, and rock-climbers, emphasize the process over the product. That process is autotelic, where the activity itself is the reward.
  56. Once I start having dreams about running and, in particular, racing, whether it’s a good or bad dream, that’s when I know I am focused.
  57. Running should be light, minimal, and efficient.
  58. The more time we spend in the mountains, the more we know its moods…and the more we are physically and mentally prepared to deal with it. The mountain teaches our insignificance as well as our agency. In this search, with this accumulated knowledge, there are times when the borders blur between landscape and self…between human and mountain. When the integration of self in place feels seamless, THAT is when the mountains truly become home. -Anton Krupicka
  59. My abilities and talents are God’s gift to me. What I do with them is my gift back to God.
  60. The heel of the foot is a stabilizer, not a shock-absorber.
  61. He’s known as this light and free lifestyle. But, what I can say is that underneath he is a man of very strong convictions. He knows what he wants. He focuses on doing it. He really tries to live according to his own principles.
  62. I’m just a beer elf at work.
  63. I embrace the solitariness in myself.
  64. It’s better to be 10% undertrained than 1% overtrained.
  65. The past…elementary school, middle school, high school, college…BLOW IT ALL UP….because all that matters is what you do NEXT.
  66. Each day is a new day to become who you set out to be. It’s never too late to become who you were born to be.
  67. Delay gratification. Be OK with that. Don’t be weak and accept quick pleasures.
  68. Hope is the beating of your heart.
  69. Everyone strives to build themselves to be perfect. The main goal seems to be getting serious about your craft and bettering yourself in what you do on a daily basis. However, it is very hard to maintain this level of discipline, mentally and physically. Only the GREAT ones make it through.
  70. Constantly, continue to learn. Continue to ask questions. Continue to figure things out. Continue to ask why things happen a certain way. Continue to better yourself. Because when that happens, you have no choice but to achieve greatness. Greatness comes as a bi-product of that. So, continue to challenge yourself. -Kobe
  71. Create your own story. Be epic and unique with a calm confidence.
  72. It takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a master of your craft.
  73. If you wanna build a legacy, you have to do it from scratch…from the ground floor upwards. All by yourself. You don’t have to follow and copy other athletes that are successful. When you become successful, YOUR own way will be embraced and you will be respected.
  74. When I am injured, and it happens to be a gorgeous day outside, I get even more pissed…I could be out there happily suffering…but, NOPE.
  75. Every person has their own story. Each are equally important. They all come together to form what is known as life.
  76. Nothing is respected more than someone with a dream who wakes up every day and tries to make it reality.
  77. Life is what you make of it. It’s not about where you are. It’s about who you’re with. Surround yourself with people who make you a happier and better person. Or, be alone, if that makes you experience freedom.
  78. You CAN run faster than your level of fitness. You may think that running as fast as you are fit is the fastest you can go, but that is not the truth. Developing strategies and mental/physical pain-coping mechanisms for during the race combined with a smart and EXECUTED race plan is the key to running better than your level of fitness. It’s possible!
  79. I can never get too cocky or confident in my running because I know that I am prone to injury and one little twinge usually leads to an injury or setback. My happiness will run dry and I will get depressed…so, I need other avenues and healthy pursuits to keep my spirits up when the setbacks come my way.
  80. The world is full of noise…clicking of pens, people gossiping, doors slamming, bills to be paid, homework to be submitted, gas tanks to be filled…it’s nice to know that there are still places that have been untouched…places where the only noises are the animals, leaves, and wind blowing.
  81. Classical music keeps me in the right state of mind and drowns out the distractions.
  82. Each season and training program is a journey, constantly evolving to fit my needs. No training program is perfect, although I will strive for it.
  83. Ice bathing should occur only when you are trying to restore the body for an event/race by reducing inflammation…NOT when you are enhancing your conditioning. Inflammation during this buildup time is GOOD! The body needs to adapt to improve.
  84. Relax then attack.
  85. In that moment, his courage shone through and his love conquered his greed and his heart conquered his fear.
  86. Amnesia…euphoria.
  87. …suffering produces perseverance; perseverance produces character; and character produces hope. And hope does not disappoint… -Romans 3:5
  88. Love wins.
  89. Good Beer Wins.
  90. I often struggle trying to connect the dots and understanding the “why” of life. I’m not sure if I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. However, so many stars needed to align to be writing this now, and looking back, without the failure and without the struggle it wouldn’t have been possible. It can be a difficult world to navigate at times—keep hope, learn and grow from the challenges, and embrace the good in yourself and those around you. -Rob Krar
  91. The strength of the pack is the wolf and the strength of the wolf is the pack.
  92. The red of blood hit the dirt. And the whole Earth mourned and the whole world shook. As we watched, they nailed Him to a tree. Oh, wretched souls of sinners like me. -David Crowder*Band (Sequence 4)
  93. The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep. -Robert Frost
  94. You can’t be a leader without being a student first.
  95. Unforgiving. Determined. Unapologetic.
  96. When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.
  97. We could always kinda be average or just be what’s normal. I’m not in this to do what’s normal. It’s a decision that you gotta make if you wanna accomplish anything significant. And to have a serious impact you gotta make sacrifices and make that choice. I made that choice a long time ago. We all have shit that we go through. We all have things that…obstacles that are in our way at some point or another. We all have doubt. But when we chose, we chose. -Kobe
  98. Greatness. It’s just something we made up. Somehow, we’ve come to believe that greatness is a gift…reserved for a chosen few…for prodigies…for superstars…and the rest of us can only stand by, watching. You can forget that. Greatness is not some rare DNA strand. It’s not some precious thing. Greatness is no more unique to us than breathing. We’re all capable of it. All of us.
  99. Everything in life happens for a reason. God has a plan. Everything you do is part of your journey. It’s who you are. Everything you have done in the past is engraved in you. You always hold on to the miles and trials you endured. When you make a mistake, do not hold your head low. The mistake was meant to happen. Trust in God with all your heart and keep moving forward while holding true to the same faith and focus you started with. Strive for perfection and always remember why you do it.
  100. Any little article will do.

LOTR Quotes

Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Don’t be too eager to deal out death and judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. “I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.” So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.

Why the hallfling? I do not know. Saruman believes that is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I’ve found. I’ve found that it is the small things, everyday deeds from ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love.

Where the warg howls, there also the orc prowls.

The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places…but still there is much that is fair, and, though, in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the stronger.

The wolf that one hears is worse than the orc that one fears.

His house was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking. (Beorn’s house)

Faithless is he who says farewell when the road darkens.

The sun went down and there came a great silence. Darkness fell upon the land.

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door…and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.

To bear the Ring of Power is to be alone…this task was appointed to you…and if you do not find a way, no one will.

Maybe the paths that you each shall tread are already laid before your feet, though you do not see them.

How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back?

Faithless is he who says farewell when the road darkens.

James 1: 2-4

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Quotes from Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall

Below are a few nuggets of gold I mined out of these pages. Among others, these quotes stood out to me. I highly recommend this piece of literature to any fellow runner…geek…scientist…historian…human…


“I never really discussed this with anyone because it sounds pretentious but I started ultra-running to become a better person. I thought if you could run 100 miles you’d be in this zen state…you’d be the fucking Buddha…bringing peace and a smile to the world. It didn’t work in my case. I’m the same old punk-ass as before. But there’s always that hope that it will turn you into the person you want to be: a better, more peaceful person. When I’m out on a long run the only thing that matters is finishing the run. For once my brain isn’t going ‘blah blah blah’ all the time. Everything quiets down and the only thing going on is pure flow. It’s just me and the movement and the motion. That’s what I love. Just being a barbarian, running through the woods.” -Jenn Shelton

“Poetry, music, forests, oceans, solitude…THEY were what developed enormous spiritual strength. I came to realize that spirit, as much or more than physical conditioning, had to be stored up before a race.” -Herb Elliot (Olympic Champion and World Record-Holder in the Mile, who trained barefoot, wrote poetry, and retired undefeated)

Fifty-five miles in one day. Her friends had to wonder, and worry. Did Ann have an eating disorder? An exercise obsession? Was she fleeing some subconscious Freudian demon by literally running away? “My friends would tell me I’m not addicted to crack, I’m addicted to endorphins,” Trason would say, and her comeback didn’t much put their minds at ease: she liked to tell them that running huge miles in the mountains was “very romantic.” Gotcha. Grueling, grimy, muddy, bloody, lonely trail-running equals moonlight and champagne. But yeah, Ann insisted, running was romantic; and no, of course her friends didn’t get it because they’d never broken through. For them, running was a miserable two miles motivated solely by size 6 jeans: get on the scale, get depressed, get your headphones on, and get it over with. But you can’t muscle through a five-hour run that way; you have to relax into it, like easing your body into a hot bath, until it no longer resists the shock and begins to enjoy it. Relax enough, and your body becomes so familiar with the cradle-rocking rhythm that you almost forget you’re moving. And once you break through to that soft, half-levitating flow, that’s when the moonlight and champagne show up: “You have to be in tune with your body, and know when you can push it and when to back off,” Ann would explain. You have to listen closely to the sound of your own breathing; be aware of how much sweat is beading on your back; make sure to treat yourself to cool water and a salty snack and ask yourself, honestly and often, exactly how you feel. What could be more sensual than paying exquisite attention to your own body? Sensual counted as romantic, right?