Embrace the Excuse or Choose the Challenge

Posted On Jun 22, 2015 By Tom Holland

Embrace the Excuse or Choose the Challenge

I was running on the treadmill recently when I slipped off during a fast interval. One leg became wedged behind the belt and it tore up the front of my sockless ankle pretty good before I could regain my balance and get off.

Yes, it hurt. A lot. Yes, I could have quit and ended the workout. But I knew that it wasn’t so bad that finishing the workout would have made it worse. So, I got back on and completed the session.

What I’ve learned from competing in endurance events is not “if,” but “when” something will go wrong. I have crashed my bike hard in an Ironman race in Australia, fallen at least a dozen times in the woods during my 50-mile JFK ultra run, competed in three typhoons and “bonked” countless times during races all over the world, to name just a few of my mishaps and misfortunes. Yet, regardless of what happened, I learned to get up and keep moving forward.

Then there was Ironman China when I swam open-mouthed into an enormous red jellyfish, not once, but three times. It stung my face like crazy and made my tongue swell up to twice its size. Yes, I learned you could scream and cry underwater and still swim 2.4 miles. I was feeling particularly sorry for myself until I saw another athlete on the course with the same bright red tentacle marks crisscrossing his face, still racing hard.

I often meet people who have competed in events who will tell me how they were “on track” to achieve their goals when something went wrong. It started raining. They drank too much sport drink. It was unseasonably hot.

What makes an event like Ironman so powerful is that everyone on the course, from the professionals to the very last finisher, is that we are all suffering together. And, in addition to the difficulty of simply completing the 140.6-mile distance, every single person will also have their own personal war story about what went horribly wrong for them along the way to that finish line.

Whether it’s a 5K, marathon, Ironman, or life itself - something will inevitably go wrong. Accept that fact. There will be obstacles. We can either give up and use them as our easy excuses for why we quit, or we can push through and use them to make us exponentially stronger, physically as well as mentally.

Embrace the excuse or choose the challenge - The choice is ours to make. We are the ones who decide how the story ends.

Have you faced a challenge that you powered through? Let us know your story in the comments below.