Here’s Why One of My Favourite Words Is Grit

I love words that sound like what they mean.

I rarely open a newspaper anymore, let alone check out my horoscope, but look what it said last Sunday:

Grit isn’t something that you have or don’t have. It’s like sweat. It’s made in the moment you show up and get to work.

Are you kidding me? I gave me chills it was so good. Or maybe it was the fact that I was standing in my air conditioned kitchen after a three-hour run in the hot sun, soaked with sweat, drinking an orange Gatorade G2. In any case, I loved these words so much that I cut them out of the paper and taped them in my journal – with the full intention of sharing them with you.

Terra, my friend and team captain of our upcoming Tour du Mont Blanc running trek, actually used the same word when I sent her a sweaty selfie of me after running trails in the heat with my heavy pack on. “Way to build some grit!” was her response.

What is grit, exactly?

I love words that sound like what they mean. Grit does. It’s dirt, it’s guts, it’s courage, it’s resilience, it’s tenacity, it’s stamina, it’s relentless, it’s resolve, it’s unstoppable, it’s strength of character. Grit, as a verb, means to grind your teeth together, especially in the fact of difficult or unpleasant circumstances. Grrrrrr.

Like bravery, you cannot just call upon grit or hope to have it when it counts. You have to earn it. You have to call it forth, manifest it, and practise it in small increments again and again. Training is gritty. That’s why I loved the comparison to sweat.

“Sweat is made the moment we show up and get to work.”

I sweat so much lately that I keep a towel in my car. I can literally wring out my running clothes after I shuck them off, as though I just got back from a swim.

I cannot consume enough water to balance out my sweat, though I feel like I’m drinking it all day long. I was so desperately thirsty on a recent hill run that went longer than I expected that I spoke Spanish to a gardener who let me tip my red face under the water jug on the back of his pickup truck and take a life-saving sip that helped me get home. Gracias, hombre.

My body is so used to sweating it says, “Oh? This again?” and goes quickly into full body drench mode the minute I go outside, get in a hot car, or start exercising. Sweat runs down my calves, off my swinging elbows, off the brim of my cap, down my stomach and lower back, and off the tip of my nose while doing downward dog in yoga.

Sweat mixes with sunscreen and stings my eyes. Sweat drips off my soggy, rasta-tangled ponytail and down my neck and shoulders. It takes 15 minutes and half a bottle of conditioner just to comb that sucker out post-run. Even if I braid it.

Sweat isn’t just about losing something…although it is amazing as a purge, a detox, and a bloat-annihilator.

For me, sweat is definitely about gaining something. I gain clarity and grit when I sweat, when I make the effort and honour the commitment to show up and get to work.

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