I run out as far as I can. I dread every minute of it, especially in the morning. I'm annoyed; all the thoughts burden me as I struggle to not turn around. It's always hot. I'm hungry. This is usually how it goes.
On a certain level, I hate running; the hate slowly fades as I ease into it. Early on, I figured out my one rule: "Don't quit in the middle of a run.” If I did, nothing would ever get me to finish all the runs that followed.
Serendipitously, as I was drafting my notes on this, this morning, I let my Youtube videos run and heard a clip on what the Navy Seals refer to as “the dark night of the soul.”
In (Catholic) religion, the “dark night of the soul" refers to “a spiritual crisis in the journey toward union with God.” For a Seal, this crisis of mind, body, and spirit occurs when subjected to Hell Week training—designed to test them to their core.
With limited hours of sleep, countless exercises in extreme conditions, Seals usually train through the morning, sometimes with more than 18 hours under their belts. As I listened with intrigue, the voice-over repeated one line to those who'd made it through the night, "Don't quit in the darkness."
He explained that as soon as the sun peaks over the horizon, everything changes. All of a sudden, hope is visible, purpose surfaces, and…you focus on breakfast.
Though I can't compare a morning run to Hell Week, what I can tell you is that at some point all Hell Week stamina started with a morning run someone didn’t want to take.
As Tony Robbins says, "If you want to take the island, you gotta burn the boat." So I make it a point to screw myself over each time. The distance beats the dialogue. If I have to be somewhere after my run, I push distance and my usual pace. I don't know how, but I always make it back in time. Before I know it, I've hit the halfway mark.
This is when you glide. This is when hate turns to love.
Your brain flips from struggle to joy. This is your AJA moment. There's no longer a fight; there's no longer an inner dialogue. Now, it's just logistics; it's time to go home for breakfast. Certainty takes over. You will make it back. As you glide home, you cruise over pain points. They mean nothing now.
This is how and when you take the island.
Instead of dreading something, it can flip on you and teach you something about yourself. Endure the darkness and the distance a little longer than you’d like. Teach yourself to wait for daybreak. Once the sun comes out, reaching the end is no longer a question, but a given.