I glance over at my friends, all of whom have a determined look on their faces. Although it doesn’t show, the toll of the mileage is beginning to creep in, putting cramps in my legs, stealing the oxygen from my lungs, and ultimately giving me one thought: “How easy would it be to quit right now?” This was a long run at our local lake on a Saturday (an optional practice day), and a progression run, which had been an unfamiliar term to me the previous day. In simple terms, a progression run was seven miles, going easy the first three, and speeding up to 5k race pace by the end of the run. Furthermore, there were many challenges during and especially towards the close of the run, such as a hill right before the finish of the loop. How easy would it be to not show up to practice, or to just not run to my full potential?
If you haven’t already guessed, I am a distance runner, and run things like the mile, 800, 4×800 relay, and even the 5k (as I ran both cross country and did soccer simultaneously in the fall of my senior year). Mentality is a huge challenge for any distance runner, and until this year, I didn’t entirely understand what I could do to combat it. What changed? I saw a figure that has been swirling around social media, who is known for his insane challenges: David Goggins.
Anyone who has heard of David Goggins marvels at the feats that he has accomplished in his life. Besides being a Navy Seal, Goggins has run numerous marathons and ultramarathons, broke the pull up world record, ran a 70 mile run (and then ran a 100 mile run four days later) and had a period of eight weeks where he ran in eight 100 mile races. As stated, I am a distance runner: usually the 5 mile workouts and speed work days scare everyone off with their grueling nature. But Goggins is on another level of mentality; his recovery days consist of at least eight miles at a sub-7:00 pace for each mile.
I think Goggins has been such an inspiration to me (as well as many others) because of his presence on social media and his daily videos featuring an accomplishment. Despite many other people on social media presenting a false image of the world, Goggins encourages people to break their comfort zone, whatever that may be. He acknowledges that he came from humble beginnings (and had to lose around 100 pounds in less than a month for the Navy Seals), and relates with the struggle of others. His videos always end with the same phrase “stay hard.” This motivation and the idea of ‘if you’re gonna do something, do it to your full potential’ has inspired me to continue to challenge myself. As Goggins did, whenever mental doubt begins to creep in, I ask the same general question he did: “What if…”