The bombing at the Boston Marathon. The explosion in West, Texas. The earthquake in China. The bombing of the French Embassy. There’s more, but the events of the last few days are enough to make our heads spin. What the people dealing with these tragedies know or will learn is that recovery and restoration is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a grind, a slow and difficult process. And in the end, the people and the communities will come out the other side stronger, braver and more equipped to deal with life than before the event. There are plenty of lessons to be learned, like the value of grinding it out.
We’re sure you’ve noticed how easy some days are – and other days it seems like getting our heads off the pillow in the morning is a huge effort. There is great value in learning to grind through the tough days, to improvise, to find the grit inside to go on and make the day count. This is where the most growth lies – in how you work through the difficult days, the dark hours and the long miles. How you respond in the tough times matters, it’s where you learn the most about yourself – and those around you.
When we talk about grinding, we’re not referring to the dirty dancing version here! We are talking about finding a way to get through the day, learning how to run/perform when you’re tired, or work effectively in less than perfect conditions – to make it to through the run, or through the day’s storm.
Grinding has been described as dreary, monotonous, or difficult labor. It’s not pretty, in fact, it’s mostly pretty ugly. And it’s entirely necessary. With U.S. Special Forces selection, they wear down the candidates with sleep deprivation and strenuous hard runs, physical drills and other taxing challenges. Then, while exhausted, they are tasked with an incredibly difficult task/mission, requiring critical decision making skills, teamwork and the ability to improvise on the fly. The drop-out rate is high, but in the end – it is the grinders, the ones who just won’t quit, no matter what, who are honored into the elite teams. The U.S. Navy Seal credo, “the only easy day was yesterday,” says it all.
We’re not elite special forces – but the lesson is clear. There will be days that nothing is going right, you feel like crap and the world seems to be crashing in. It could very well be race day. Making the best of it, adapting your plan and always moving forward will make you stronger in every way.
Some tips for grinding it out.
- Most importantly; think. In stressful times it is easy to lose focus on what is really important. If you take a deep breath and spend a couple of minutes prioritizing, it will serve you well. Focus on what’s the right thing(s) to be doing, what will allow you and/or yours to have the best chance of carrying on, surviving the day, race or whatever you need to get through. Then grind through those things first!
- Don’t give up on the day. There is always a way to make something work. Keep trying, keep going. Many days turn out great after a really rocky start – just by grinding on! Being relentless is a learned skill.
- Trust that if you keep at it long enough, a breakthrough will come. It may not be the desired result – but you know the effort was there. Believe in the effort and you will grow stronger.
- Taking a bite out of the elephant. You can’t eat the whole elephant at once, so learn how to make small bites. It’s always the small things that add up.
- Learn to improvise. Your race pace is shot and you are not even sure you are going to finish. So, it’s not going according to plan – what to do? Adjust and adapt. Take what the day is giving you, whether it’s the weather, the attitude or other factors. Start chopping up the course into small victories – make it to the next landmark, the next mile or the next water station. Pride yourself on the ability to grind on to the finish. You’ll be more proud of your ability to survive and flourish on the bad days, knowing the strength and resolve you have within.
It’s difficult at times to believe in ourselves – that we even have the capacity and the ability to get through the things that are thrown in our paths. Life can be unbelievable hard at times, full of ups and downs. Please don’t give up on yourselves – keep grinding through the hard times. It helps in many cases during the hard times, to help someone out who may be having even a rougher go of it than you. We can make such a difference in people’s lives by the simple act of caring. You never know when you can be a hero, to yourself or to someone else. Keep going, keep grinding on. It’s the effort and the perseverance that makes the difference. You are capable of amazing things when you keep stepping ahead, one step at a time!