Running in a blizzard is not the most pleasant way to spend your Saturday. When you’re ten weeks out from your first fifty-mile race of the year though there really isn’t an option. You have to get the miles, work on your nutrition and figure out how to make adjustments to your body as the first signs of fatigue and pain begin to set in.
I know you started reading this and most likely you are saying, “No, actually you could stay inside and do a treadmill run.” And you’re probably correct unless of course you’re like me and you’re insane and love the outdoors.
As I ran through this blizzard there were two thoughts that kept me going. The first is quite normal and really what I want to talk to you about today. The second will give you insight as to what the crazy people who run long miles in strange weather really think about when they are out doing this activity.
Adversity is a normal part of life. We will all experience it, all really hate it and all not to want to ever have to go through it again. However, not experiencing adversity isn’t an option. I mean it would be nice to constantly have a perfect life where everything goes your way and the route you are running is full of blue skies, butterflies, and beautiful vistas as far as your eye can see.
That’s never going to happen though because blizzards happen. The bad part about running in a blizzard are the facts that it is freezing cold, the wind is constantly blowing in your face no matter what direction you’re running and the snow continues to pile up making each footstep heavier and heavier. And even worse? It won’t stop until you get your miles in or throw in the towel and go find a warm cup of coffee.
The part about running in a blizzard that you don’t really understand until you’re in it is that you can’t see your hand in front of your face. This can make for some interesting stumbles and as I ran this particular day my mind just kept going around to how much like life this really is. I mean I knew this blizzard was temporary, the next day was going to be bright and full of sunshine. I knew this was going to end and that the second day of my back to back long runs was going to be much more tolerable and possibly even fun because the sun would be shining. As I ran the thought of tomorrow helped but how do I get through the adversity I am currently in? How do I get to the other side?
Suddenly this weird verse from Isaiah hit me. Isaiah 30:20–21, ‘Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes, you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
Here are three things that we absolutely know to be true.
- Adversity is part of life. No matter what trail you’re running, there will be difficult parts and it will seem as if you have lost your way. You won’t be able to read the map correctly, the compass will spin north no matter which direction you are facing and if you’re fortunate that there are other people on the same trail they will zip by you as if you are invisible. Adversity will come upon you.
2. It doesn’t have to be permanent unless you allow it to be. Whatever adversity you are facing right now isn’t an insurmountable task. I remember when my first mentor was laying in a hospice room awaiting his triumphant entry into heaven. As I sat there just waiting for him to talk I watched a man who had overcome colon cancer, had lost his wife in an out of the blue heart attack but who had maintained his positive outlook on life and his gentle ways to make everybody around him feel important and valued every day I was privileged to be around him. I’ll never forget in one of the lucid moments we had together he turned to me and said, “Mike, all the adversity is about to go away. I’m about to have a new body and I’m about to spend eternity with my sweetheart and my Lord. But everything I’ve gone through on this earth has been worth it because I know I’ve made a difference.” When I lost Melvin I lost one of my heroes but I will never lose the things he taught me and the most important is that adversity always has an ending.
3. There is always a way out of the current adversity you’re in but you have to get outside of your selfish desires and self-importance in order to hear the soft whisper telling you the direction to turn. I love that whole “whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you” part of this verse. Maybe it has to do with the fact that when I am running in a group I don’t always hear the conversations going on unless I’m really close to the person because of hearing loss. I don’t need my hearing aids to hear the voice of my Savior because He is always right there and I can always hear the words, “This is the way; walk in it.”
Adversity isn’t fun and nobody on earth will ever be able to say they enjoy adversity, give me some more. However, just like the blizzard, there is always the next day and that day very well could be one of those blue sky running days where the sky stretches forever, the sun shines brightly upon you and all the birds are singing happy songs around you.
If you’ve made it this far you’re probably wondering what that second thought was that kept me going. Pretty simple and now you’ll know why I’m definitely not normal. As I ran along through the blizzard I kept thinking, “I’m going to have a rocking icicle beard when this run is over!!!!”
Being an ultra runner is an adventure in itself and I love getting out on the trails of life seeing what I can make my body to do. I know I am capable of far more than my mind can imagine and I am excited about what the future trails of this Living An Ultra Life will look like.
Visit Mike at MikeHornerUltra.com.