Embrace the Suck!

This Fall, I took a few days off work and backpacked several miles into the woods for a hunting trip with a good friend of mine.  We planned the trip for weeks, we spent a ton of money on gas, gear and food, and we took time away from our families in hopes that we’d be fortunate enough to get into some elk.  

We hiked in in the rain, which didn’t stop until the next morning, where it was replaced by a howling, freezing wind.  Those two alternated for most of the trip except for a day or so.  We hiked to the top of mountains and back down, averaging about 12 miles a day for 4 days.  We slept on the ground instead of our warm, comfortable beds at home, we ate dehydrated food instead of our wives’ impeccable meals, we traded Facebook for binoculars, and we worked our asses off.  

We literally never saw a single animal the whole time.  Oh wait, yeah we did.  We saw the biggest bull elk I’ve ever seen after we got down off the mountain and were driving back down the highway, a little dejected.

Yet, in between the suck, I had the time of my life, and look back on it as one of the best stretches of days in my entire life.  I’m one of those people who feels like he has to earn his fun, that the work must be done first before play happens and that the harder the work, the more fun it is.  

My friend and I joke about the fact that we’re complete idiots for going out in the woods, sleeping on the ground, hiking all over the place, and spending way too much money to “get all the free meat that’s just hanging out, waiting to be shot”.  Yet, we know that we’re not idiots.  We love the reward that comes after the seemingly endless, brutal work (that is really only just the beginning of the work if you actually shoot something).  It’s not easy, it’s not cost effective and it’s definitely not always fun, but it’s fulfilling as hell.

I was recently presented with the idea that a lot of things in life are fun in the moment, but rarely provide any lasting memories.  These are mostly indulgences and consist of rushes of chemicals in the brain for a short period of time.  Things like food, drugs and sex fall into this category.  On the other hand, there are experiences that are usually not very fun in the moment, but the lasting memories are priceless and life-changing, often because of the feeling of accomplishment that comes with conquering the challenge.  While the short term indulgences are great, the earned accomplishments are so much better to me.  

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that I love CrossFit and the physical and mental challenges that are prescribed on a daily basis.  I hear observations all too often from people that say, “wow, I don’t know why you do that stuff, it looks way too hard for me.”  Or, “you guys actually enjoy that stuff?”

Hell no!  The stuff we do in here sucks so bad that I’ve thought about quitting my workout mid-way almost every single day.  I’ve thought, 

“I’m really tired, maybe I’m overtraining and should take it easy today.”

“Hmmm, was that an ache in my knee?  I better quit before it gets any worse!”

“3 Rounds is enough, I don’t need to do the extra 2, I’ve done plenty of work today.”

“No one will know if I shave a few reps and finish early, I just won’t put my time on the board.”

“This really sucks, I’m just going to quit and admit it to everyone that I couldn’t do it today.”

But you know what, I never do.  And the people in here that succeed don’t either.  We all suffer together, knowing that it’s not supposed to be fun in the moment.

However, when you’re laying on the floor, or high five-ing your workout partner, or sharing a post workout beer (yeah, we drink beer), it’s the best feeling in the world, and it makes the suck worth it.  We smile and laugh about how much the burpees/pull-ups/thrusters/whole thing sucked, and we know we’ve shared something special for that hour.  So, if you’re thinking to yourself, “man, that doesn’t look fun at all”, you’re right, it’s not.  It really sucks for the short term, but the long term rewards are irreplaceable, especially by the short term distractions.  Keep pushing and earn your accomplishments, when you stand at the top of the mountain, you’ll know it was worth it.