It’s race week! Ellie and I have some travel ahead of us and I’ll be away from the computer a little more this coming week. Please feel free to reach out via text if you don’t hear back from me and have an immediate question (303.408.3457).
I’m feeling really fit and excited to race! I have some final logistics to dial in, but am hopeful to have a really awesome day out there (and think this is highly likely regardless of the actual result of the day).
I mentioned that I was going to avoid diving into the newsletter this week before Bandera, but realized I have all of the old newsletters saved and thought that upcycling one would work just as well! So…below I C&P’d a bit of an unintentional slam piece on David Goggins and his approach to exercise.
I use the word ‘exercise’ intentionally as I don’t view what he does as true training. Training involves rest cycles, dedication to specificity, and even a loss of overall athleticism to maximize adaptations to the thing that you’re training for. Additionally, I think that his approach to ‘exercise’ comes from a disordered place with a deep-seeded self-hatred (I would guess he’d agree to this accusation), and is simply a replacement for past addictions.
It’s important for us all to remember where exercise and training falls in the greater context of life. When things are going well, it’s great! When we experience setbacks, it’s an important time to reflect on the role of running and make sure it’s not the only thing we derive meaning from as that’s an especially tough approach to a sport where the incidence of injury is as high as it is.
David’s mental toughness is certainly admirable, but just remember there are other ways to be tough. Toughness generally involves overcoming novel obstacles and making sacrifices when they need to be made. Doing the same thing every day looks tough, but just as many of us have experienced with running, adaptations are made that make those consistent activity patterns easier and easier. Additionally, if training and running constantly feel like a battle that we need to tackle, chances are we’re approaching the sport from the wrong direction and need to double down on finding the joy of it all.
This past year, I read the book Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins. Don’t worry, my Newsletter isn’t going to be a book review, but rather a mentality review and something we need to understand to have success in running and in life in general.
I wouldn’t usually hate on a book or author, but given some of the things that Goggins says about our society and the lack of ‘discipline’ opens him up to a little ridicule in my opinion. He acts as if the only thing that can possibly hold you back from reaching your ‘true potential’ is your own unwillingness to get off the couch and ‘get sh*t done’ as I’d imagine he would phrase it (he’d also likely use all caps if writing it out).
There seems to be a little bit of a following around the ‘Goggins movement’ and I even field questions from some of you all where he comes up. Things like…’I feel soft. Goggins would run through this shin discomfort’, isn’t an uncommon thing for me to hear. Don’t get me wrong, Goggins probably would run through that shin discomfort. He may continue to do so and it may never force him to take time off, but what’s the point?!
Goggins claims that he is ‘uncommon amongst uncommon men’, but I’d like to think of it as ‘disordered amongst disordered men’. He may be able to do a million pullups, run a million miles, do things that we can’t begin to comprehend, etc…, but I don’t believe he is conquering anything that is truly difficult for him. What would be difficult is putting his own accomplishments aside for a minute and prioritizing somebody else. It would be difficult to take a rest day when his body was feeling overworked or the start to an injury was making itself known. Doing things that are perceived to be difficult from other people’s perspectives isn’t nearly as impressive as overcoming obstacles that are truly difficult given your circumstances.
Goggins is a great role model for somebody who needs that extra push to get out the door. It’s inspirational to see someone crushing it when you are just starting out, and there’s a place for that. However, most of you reading this aren’t in that category. Most of you need someone to hold you back. Some of you need someone there to tell you to take a day off.
But...we all need someone to remind us that running is just a part of the whole experience. Ten years ago, I was a lot like Goggins. I mean...I couldn’t run as far or do as many pull ups, but I did prioritize self-accomplishment over everything else. In college, a 95 on a test wasn’t enough...I wouldn’t be happy if I missed a question. On Friday nights, I would be at home studying to accomplish this. It was self-important and a crutch to keep me from being there for other people. When I started running, I would ‘always’ be running or working out. I’d wake up at 3:30 to workout, go to work, and run until bed/dinner. It’s far easier to shut yourself out from the world than to engage in it. It’s not discipline, but fear that we witness with people like Goggins.
In 2021, let’s all cut ourselves a little slack. A missed run or workout doesn’t make a difference in the big scheme of things. Many of you have had sick family members, are parents, are about to be parents, are going through incredibly stressful life experiences, or are going through exciting life changes. Goggins has set up life so that he can be the ‘hardest person out there’, but none of you have set up your lives with such a singular and selfish focus and don’t let personalities like him make you feel any lesser for this reason.
Upon re-reading this, it turned into more of ‘slam’ on Goggins than I intended, but I don’t feel like changing it. His mentality is a toxic one to turn to for inspiration and a very non-productive one for success in running or life in general.
Listen: Music! I have been relatively distracted with planning and other things and just haven’t been in a huge podcast mood recently!
Read: I’ve been picking my way through the The New Toughness Training For Sports by James Loehr recently and it’s a really amazing sport’s psychology ‘tool’. Admittedly, this is a weakness in my coaching, or at least any area I haven’t spent a lot of time focusing explicitly on. I think all of you would enjoy it and some of the ‘homework’ he assigns really helps to get the mind ready for running!
Watch: I really wish I had something for here, but we haven’t really been ‘in to’ a show or movie recently.
Grant C. ran 10 miles with around 7000’ of climbing and descending on New Years! That’s freaking steep and the most impressive part was he was able to walk down stairs the next day without too many issues!
Ben L. ran the Auld Lang Syne race on New Year’s Eve essentially off of the couch (and overworked/unrested with a newborn at home)!