Running and inner strength for life

Editor’s note:

This is a guest post from my ultrarunning friend, Jon Olszyk. Jon is a dedicated ultrarunner who has finished over 30 marathons and 15 ultra-marathons in the six years since he started running. He is without a doubt the most passionate runner I ever have had the pleasure to know personally. Jon lives in Virginia with his wife, Carrie.

I really don’t think of myself as any type of great runner at all. I tell people “I can’t go the furthest , nor do I go the fastest”. Most people tell me that they admire my mental toughness, strength and fortitude. I don’t know if I believe this is true either. I mean, am I mentally tougher than a Navy SEAL? No. Am I mentally tougher than a cancer patient undergoing chemo? No. There are probably thousands of other situations where I don’t feel like I mentally stronger than the people going thru them. I just know that in training and on race day, I am going to do whatever the hell I can to finish what I set out to do. If it means first, great. If it means last, great. Why? Because if you commit to something, you finish it!

How do I accomplish this?

  • I train in every condition imaginable. I am going to run in the heat, humidity, pouring down rain, freezing cold, windy and many other conditions. Why is this? I know that come race day, I am prepared for whatever comes at me. I love it when people are freaking out about the weather a week before race day. If it’s calling for rain, well, I know that I have trained in the rain. I know what it’s like to run with wet clothes, wet socks and heavy shoes. Do they? Or were they whining about how (insert weather condition here) it is outside so they didn’t run or did the treadmill?
  • If, and this is a big “if”, it’s bad enough to not go outside (I am not a fan of ice, sorry), then I use the treadmill. My treadmill is set up against two walls. No pictures, No windows, No TV, No music. Why? It’s me vs. my mind vs. the stop button. I am alone in my thoughts and when I’m hurting and tired, can I overcome the mental hurdle to hit the stop button? Knowing you can hit that button at any time is a blessing and a curse. I know that come race day, I cant just stop because I am hurting or tired.
  • Running is not easy. It’s hard, damn work. That’s the bottom line. Do I have my bad days? Yes. Do I have my days where I don’t want to run or a run just sucks? Yes. Those days were you get a mile or 2 miles into a run and say “this sucks, I am feeling miserable” are the days where you keep going and what make you, not as a runner, but in life in general. It’s easy to give up when times are tough. You may not realize it during that run (or situation in your life) but somewhere down the line you will use that experience to make yourself a better runner and person.