You’ve heard of Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, the Spartan Race, and so on. That genre of self-inflicted group torture is known as OCR (Obstacle Course Races). Amelia Boone, an attorney, is one of the most accomplished OCR athletes in the history of the sport. She has won both the Spartan Race World Championship (2013) and World’s Toughest Mudder (three times! 2012, 2014 and 2015), beating out thousands of other racers, most of whom are men. In 2014, she won the WTM title eight weeks after major knee surgery.
She’s ridiculous. And probably a crazy person. In maybe the best way possible.
Amelia claims that she’s not the fastest or the strongest. She’s the best at suffering. She says that is why she’s successful.
In order to become the best at suffering, she did what you do to become better at anything: she practiced. She went out of her way to put herself in terrible, excruciating, uncomfortable scenarios over and over again so that she got better at enduring them.
Most people avoid going out and training when it’s snowing, or raining, or under the extreme noon day sun at the height of summer, but that’s exactly when she would make sure to go get work in. Day after day, Amelia deliberately put herself in these worst case scenario situations to build up her tolerance, so that she’s ready for anything that might happen.
David Goggins, Navy SEAL and ultra-marathon champion, does the exact same thing. He puts his body in horribly uncomfortable conditions, not just to train his body, but more importantly, to train his mind to be able to push through the agony.
I I have cerebral palsy. I use an electric wheelchair full-time. What do I care about people who run ultramarathons?
If you’re like me and you have a disability, or chronic pain, or an invisible illness, or depression, or anxiety, or anything else that is inescapable and bears down on you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, then you know that we don’t have to go out and seek painful, difficult situations to endure. We don’t have to go out running in the snow to find suffering and hardship. We are living in it.
Amelia Boone and David Goggins chose to view enduring suffering as a good thing, as a skill to be improved upon, that helps them achieve incredible things. They know that iron sharpens iron and pressure creates diamonds.
If, like me, life dealt you a hand of cards where suffering and hardship is mandatory and constant, part of the ante you pay just for existing, then you have a couple options, because you get to choose the story you tell yourself about who you are and your situation.
You can choose to view your suffering as pointless, a weight around your neck that makes everything worse and everything hard, absent of any benefit or value. It just sucks. Some days it sucks more than others, and that’s just your life.
Or you can choose to view it as the training you are going through that is making you capable withstanding things that would break regular people. Amelia Boone and David Goggins might go test the limits of their will a few hours a day, but you’re doing it all the time. You’re becoming something unstoppable. Because if what you’re going through doesn’t break you, then what will? If surviving this is possible, then what else can you do?
You get to choose. You start by choosing once. But after that, you have to choose again every single day. And you might make the wrong choice sometimes. That’s alright. As long as you know that you have the ability to choose how you view your pain, your suffering, and the things that happen to you, you can control the story of your life. You get to make yourself the person you want to be, and use what others would consider pains and weaknesses as the fuel to get there.
(If you know somebody that can turn their suffering into a superpower, please send this to them. And if you’d like to become a CRIP and receive a text message with a link to my latest post every Sunday, send a text with the word CRIP to the phone number 484848 to subscribe.)