Why Runners Totally Get Resilience

I HAD COFFEE, pulled on layers, laced up, found my rain jacket, and put my mobile and a muesli bar in a sandwich bag. It wasn’t an inviting morning by any means, but it beckoned me nevertheless. I, like Forrest Gump, just felt like runnin’.

I had hopes of meeting a friend for most or part of my long run, so I kept myself to shorter loops. This way, I would pass “go” at intervals in case I needed to change layers, find a friend, use the loo, get more food from my car, respond to my kids, or call it a day in the midst of a monsoon. It seemed like a reasonable enough plan to finish 29km on a cold, drizzly morning.

Why I didn’t go the previous day, or the day before that, when the temperatures were mild and sunny was beyond me. Hindsight always sparkles, doesn’t it?

As I ran alone I remembered an article I read about resilience, particularly as it relates to raising children. It said how pampered children do not develop the resilience they need because they are deprived of overcoming adversity, accepting consequences, or simply being uncomfortable.

Aha moment at kilometre 20: Runners totally get that.

We seek to build resilience. We get uncomfortable on purpose. We push ourselves in training to lean into adversity, and be strengthened by it. We train ourselves in the art of overcoming. We un-pamper ourselves on a regular basis.

So much of our culture reflects a comfort-minded mentality. We want to be comfortable, and we want the people we love to be comfortable. We avoid the things that make us uncomfortable, and we get in the way so other people don’t feel the consequence of discomfort. We numb ourselves with substitutes, screens, rationalization, and by being very busy.

I love how running runs counter to culture in this regard.

In our age, relatively few of us work in physical labor. We don’t have to hunt or gather in order to eat. We don’t migrate or make pilgrimages. Other than soldiers, we do not regularly enter battle.

But we still reside in the bodies that can and were designed to do all of these things. We have an inherent need to move, an inborn inclination towards adventure, and a proclivity to push ourselves.

Runners understand this, this deep desire to cultivate resilience. It transcends the repetition of our gait and gives meaning to the stride of life.


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