I took the specific words "Suffer Better" from an article I read in a local magazine Competitor that mostly covers running, but can include general local athleticism events. When I read the article, all the sudden a light bulb went off and I immediately saw how their philosophy aligned perfectly with my own. And if I wasn't already in that mindset (say, 2 years ago when I was in some of my worst suffering) I would have used it as fuel to get to where I am now. I kind of did on my own, already knowing most of the idea behind it.
I figured now would be a good time to write about this because I just had a great day hike yesterday with like-minded people. All except one I met that day and the one I knew prior, I don't know too well, but we've had enough of these conversations that I knew it was also where he stands.
Life is hard. And harder for some than for others. Most of that is due to perspective since we have the power to pave our own lives. And sometimes, shit just happens. Last September, I was feeling really good for having landed my job. And then my cat got hit by a car and I was faced with $5000 worth of medical bills, and then my car completely broke down and I was facing buying a new or used car for a ton of money, and my boyfriend broke up with me, and I couldn't make my very important-to-me 50k Ultra race and they wouldn't refund my entry fee. Sometimes, things just suck and it's not your fault and there's not a "perspective" for it. Except to endure. To suffer better. To take those moments and push through and know it will be over and you will be fine.
And when life isn't sucking, that's when you go practice suffering for when the Life Sucks Parade strikes again. And it doesn't just have to be all of life in its whole. I use it mostly for my running. I know that a 50-mile race is going to be really effing hard and that at some point, I could be hit with major nutrient deficiency or dehydration. But will I quit? I sure as hell don't want to. I've never DNF'd a race and I don't plan to! So what do I do to prepare? I go out in the middle of the day to run an 9-10 mile trail on little water and food. And yeah, the last 3 miles of that was borderline torture, but I could face a lot more miles with that feeling on race day. Therefore I might as well see what that feeling is like in a safe environment where I can bail and call a friend to come get me.
My hike yesterday, at the top a little before the summit, I started to feel like total crap. I ran out of water, I was nauseous from fighting a head cold and then climbing above treeline, I was dizzy and tired. But I got to the summit, I slowly meandered back down, and then I got in my car, felt a little tired but otherwise great, and felt so accomplished for reaching the top and pushing my body like that.
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? Abso-fucking-lutely that's right. Push those limits of your mental and physical capacity and see what you're made of. It's like any other exercise and with enough practice, you get stronger and more capable.
Part Two - Give and give back
Not only can we "give it our all" with our own lives, but we can help others too and by doing that, give 110% which is what the Suffer Better crew call it, being "The 110." I like to sign up for various volunteer opportunities in the local area - something I picked up when I was working at Target in San Diego almost 10 years ago. Lately I've been doing more than picking up trash or going to a Soup Kitchen at the holidays; but I've been volunteering at trail races -- trying to give back to the community that has given SO much to me lately -- and I've been trying to utilize my skill-set with computers and now SalesForce to volunteer time. I've been using VolunteerMatch to find local opportunities, but there are many sites and even remote volunteering of time. Soon I'd like to try my hand at fostering dogs, but it'll depend on how busy I get with work.