August 3, 2021
Have you read “Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins?” If not I highly recommend it…it’s a real page turner and very inspiring although you may have to overlook various PC infractions!! David is a Navy Seal and an elite endurance athlete who has finished and placed in many of the world’s most difficult Ultra events.
One of many interesting things in the book is how he deals with pain and adversity in training and especially in races. I don’t think I would be misrepresenting him if I summarized his former approach (he has apparently changed in recent years) as a combination of iron will and duck tape. He ran a 3:08 marathon with stress fractures in both feet which he taped all while weighing in at nearly 200lbs !!
As amazing as his accomplishments are, and there is no doubt they are unbelievable, I’m not sure his approach would work for most of us. He is what Alexandrians call an End Gainer par excellence….focuses on the result without paying much heed to the process of achieving it. But what an End Gainer!! In spite of the obvious limitations of his approach, I think it’s worth looking at a few themes from the book that are very powerful and would benefit anyone who decides to put them into action.
Fear is a big theme in Goggins’ life and it’s a topic that comes up frequently with runners, especially as they get older…fear of injury, fear of the cold, fear of the unknown, fear of pain, fear of failure…there’s a bit of a list here!! David’s way of facing down his fear was to attack it and not give in to it. He’d finish a race on broken legs pissing blood. Personally I find that kind of mindset is a bit on the extreme!! At the same time fear keeps a lot of people from getting out the door and expanding their horizon. It keeps them from even showing up and reaping the benefits on all levels from having done so.
Planning: the theme that echoes in Can’t Hurt Me time and again is the price Goggins pays for a lack of planning. There’s no doubt any sport that takes you out of your comfort zone involves a certain amount of discomfort. (anybody ever get fit sitting in the bath?) Not wearing proper shoes or not remembering to fuel correctly in an ultra can lead to some serious challenges…I don’t think Goggins was any different from most runners in his lack of preparation, it’s just that the stakes were much higher. Learning good running technique based on awareness and an understanding of correct running mechanics can make the process of becoming a good runner a lot smoother.
Mindset: when faced with something we find difficult or challenging Goggins suggests we ask the question “what if “ as a way creating a different future. There is the famous saying that a journey of 1000 miles (1620 K’s!!) starts with a single step. What if you decide to take a first step (or two) towards becoming the runner you want to be? How do you think that would feel? What would it contribute to your health, your attitude and your life.