The suck welcomes thee.
A book I read a few years back and enjoyed immensely was “Jarhead” by Anthony Swofford. It’s his personal story of being a Marine sniper during the first Gulf War and is both interesting and extremely well-written.
One line from the book that always stuck with me was the greeting new Marines would receive from their comrades when first getting to Iraq… “Welcome to the suck.”
I must confess I get that notion a little bit of late. As I begin to really hone my focus more for my May 6th Tough Mudder, I begin to switch up my training program from a primarily strength-focused regimen to one where I lift less and run more… a lot more. Up until this point, most of my running was in the form of sprints (either on a football field or up a hill) or while playing a sport (usually soccer or basketball). Running for the sake of just… well… running? Sweet mother of God… why would anyone want to do that? But here I am… a dude who is running in my super-jazzy new New Balance kicks (lovely, aren’t they?) and doing all I can to get myself into running shape for my race.
So where does the suck come in? Simple: My lifting (my pride and joy!) is taking a hit right now as I am spending more energy and recovery resources with running. However, my running is really not very good… at least not yet. That puts me in the middle of a bunch of suck. My good thing is becoming worse (although that should level out soon) and the thing I am spending a ton more time on… well… I’m still a bit awful at. POWERFUL SWEET!
But this isn’t a post about wallowing in the suck, bemoaning my state of being to the uncaring Fates… ohh not at all, not at all. This mucky middle I find myself in… this place where I am feeling all out of sorts… is actually a good place, even if it doesn’t feel that way. This is a growth spot – a place where I am firmly out of my comfort zone and figuring out what I can do.
It hurts. It’s frustrating. It’s certainly not all that much fun.
It’s also supremely satisfying in a lot of ways (at least after the fact when I am done running, I feel good and I am popped on the couch watching Manchester United play soccer like I did today).
Tomorrow I will get up and run again. It will (hopefully) hurt a less little and I will be a little quicker.
In short… I will embrace the suck until the suck it is no more.
For as long as I can remember, my Mom has always scolded me a bit about how I take things too far. I am known as the most emotional one of the three boys in my family and I think that’s a pretty fair assessment. I can be all or nothing, no doubt about it. When I am focused on something, everything else falls away a bit. This can be both incredibly useful and less-than-helpful – useful when I am diligently applying myself to a positive task and bad when I push myself to the point of burn out. It’s for this reason I try to keep myself much more even keeled… with varying degrees of success, but I do try.
But sometimes? I completely don’t give a single rip about balance, moderation or anything in that bland milquetoast middle that I sometimes see people getting sucked into (and I have as well at times – full disclosure). There is a time for a balance and there’s also plenty of times not to settle. To push the boundaries of both good sense and what you thought was possible for yourself.
Sometimes, you have to have moments like this:
What happened here? Oh, it’s a pretty simple formula: sunshine + 30 degree weather + less-than-bright guy x Prowler = flat on your back, staring skyward. And feeling utterly alive. Gasping for breath and woozy, but really, really alive.
I don’t recommend this on a daily basis or even weekly… but you will never get the chance to see what you can be until you get to the edge of your comfortable boundaries and begin to nudge them a little. Or maybe more than nudge them… maybe run into them headlong with wild abandon.
You may very well get knocked flat on your bee-hind. I did, as is so obvious. However, I also learned that I could do a little more than I thought I could. Next time it will probably be easier and now I will be standing at some new point and thinking, “Hmm… now if I made this a little harder… then what?”
You don’t need to be Herculean or superhuman or possess the steely nerve of an Old West gunslinger. What you need is nothing all that special and you probably have felt it before or feel it right now. What is “it”? Just a bit of an itch to get out of the everyday and into something special or different. That’s it. That and the catalyst to act on feeling that way.
But admittedly… being a little crazy doesn’t hurt either. And just think… if you do hit that wall and end up on your back, you may have a beautiful view of a bright blue Winter sky like I did. How could you let that pass by?