Opportunity or Obstacle?

It struck me this morning when listening to Ultra legend Scott Jurek’s inspiring book Eat & Run that when faced with athletic challenges many of us see it as an obstacle  - something that will be hard and inflict pain while others see it as an opportunity – something to use to overcome and get better…. Scott is amazing in his dogged determination – his ability to carry on when others falter…

Having read quite a bit about Kenyan runners recently, I am convinced that this is their secret – not genetics, diet, altitude or barefoot running to school – but motivation, grit and determination the ability to suffer and to see a long run or a hill session as an opportunity to improve – to get better, not something to shirk or complain about…

Also what about the Brownlee brothers - they clearly are this kind of athlete - Alistair's 10k run in the Olympic Triathlon was epic and he has subsequently said it was the most painful thing he has ever done... And his brother Jonathan ended up in a wheelchair after the race - he buried himself...

What do you think – are you an obstacle or an opportunity kind of athlete?


  • BookyBooky ✭✭✭

    I'd say I'm an obstacle kinda girl. But I would view that as a bad thing. I like overcoming obstacles - there's a sense of achievement in it. I guess it just depends what sort of spin you put on it image

  • I view the tough runs as opportunities mostly, but sometimes, if I'm really struggling, I get the "What the f**k am I doing this for when I could be at home in front of the telly" kind of attitude. I can usually get through that though. I actually surprise myself occasionally with what I can force myself to do (mainly through fear of chickening out).

    I definitely try to use the 'opportunity' outlook when faced with a big hill. I used to dread it and grind to a halt. Now, during training at least, I try to keep the mindset that this hill will improve me as a runner, so I keep going. I'm usually half dead when I make the top but the satisfaction is great. I actually quite enjoy hills now. If I have to walk, I have to walk but only if I've given it everything to keep running.

  • Great answers…. I think both of you embody “opportunity” rather than “obstacle” Sarah I think that your desire to overcome obstacles is a powerful motivator.

     I guess that like Matt to an extent fear drives me to go the extra mile – whether that be fear of wimping out, fear of failure, fear of gaining weight, fear of not being ready… But I do know that when I enter the gym or strap up my running shoes, I’m not looking for the easy option but the option that is appropriate and ultimately brings the greatest reward.

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