Sunday, December 4, 2016

First Friday writing for Randos: Embrace struggle

{First Friday Writings for Randos - A monthly post that features pieces from other writers that touch some facet of the Randonneuring experience, even if that was not the author's intent. It's stuff that's best read out loud - slowly.} This month it's an excerpt from 

Life Lessons From the Guy Who Just Ran the Appalachian Trail Faster Than Anyone

By Brad Stulberg

Beat and broken down? Focus on what you can control.

Midway through the hike, my shin, which was an area of concern heading into this, blew up on me. It was really bad. I remember thinking to myself, “This could be over.” But I knew if I let that thought occupy my mind for too long, the attempt would be over. So rather than ruminate on the condition of my shin, I focused on what was in front of me, all the things I could do that were within my control like icing, taking anti-inflammatory meds, adjusting the pace, and eating more since I was moving slower. This not only helped me physically but also mentally, because it kept my mind occupied with productive and not destructive thoughts.

Low points are a part of long-ass hikes and low points are a part of life. But low points are just that — points. You’ve got to remind yourself things don’t always get worse and you can almost always make them better.

Embrace struggle.


A big part of why I do this is because I really like to struggle. Not because I like pain. (I don’t.) But because I love the feeling of making progress. And to make progress you’ve got to struggle. Nobody grows from staying in their comfort zone. Once you’ve adopted this mindset, failure isn’t this scary thing to be avoided anymore.

Read the rest of the lessons here: Life lessons.


  1. I really enjoyed the linked article, Iron Rider. Thank you. I can say for certain that virtually all of Karl Meltzer's tips have helped me on either a long brevet but especially on the Trans Am Bike Race. My version of "Be Positive" is "No Negative Thoughts" or more specifically, I commit to the ride before it starts. I started TABR with Gout on my left big toe and then partially tore my left archilles tendon. My thoughts weren't.... "How am I possibly going to go 4300 miles and 250,000 feet of climbing" but rather, "I am going to get to the next town for ice and water" and then the next one and so on. Talking to locals and updating my facebook while icing down became my version of gratitude. It works. I was not so fast but I accomplished my goal. The other key for me is pacing. Just because you can ride or run faster doesn't mean you should for three reasons. First, you might need reserves for a difficult stretch later (bad weather, a hilly patch, or to meet a control time). Second, it usually only makes sense to ride hard up hills from a time to distance perspective. Third, a very hard ridden Brevet can take a days or even weeks to recover from and fitness can actually be lost during this recovery period. Sometimes, not so fast but brisk is actually quicker in many senses. There is a bigger question buried in the article. Why do we do it? Why. Maybe...To glimpse at one's primordial self unfettered by modern life's tawdry distractions. Or, we just like the free pass it gives us to eat four Egg Mcmuffins for breakfast.

    1. I'm looking forward to hearing the full story of your ride TABR experience. Maybe on a future brevet?