I have been an endurance athlete for as long as I can remember. The principles behind endurance helped me fuel ultraruns on five continents, climbs up several of the world’s tallest mountains, swims across oceans, treks down jungle paths, and paddling white and flat water on both coasts of the United States.
However, big life changes, like having children, jobs going hybrid, and global pandemics, have a way of bringing big endurance concepts home to smaller, daily takeaways that we all need and can use in our own lives.
Here are five things endurance sports taught me that I use each and every day to have a winning outlook on life and find success in the small things.
#1 Movement Is Medicine
Finding big and small ways to move each day helps me feel good. Getting a daily workout and moving in big ways like going on a run, a swim or weights class helps me handle the challenges that come my way. When I can’t fit a workout in, I still make sure to move in small ways like walking my dog, stretching, and foam rolling. The endorphins that come from working out are helpful, but simply moving my body is an essential component in staying well for overall health.
#2 Being Outside Makes Me Happy
Finding time each day outdoors brings joy to my life. I can feel the day. I can be fully present in the season. I connect with the weather be it sunny, cloudy, misty or rainy. Feeling part of nature, even if it is only driving to the office with my windows down, helps me feel a part of the world around me. I strive for outdoor workouts, walks with the children, and time playing outside or doing yard work.
#3 Recovery Is Just As Important
We can’t always be on, so in order to find balance we need to find rest, space and metal and physical downtime. Being a busy working professional and parent makes this one feel often times unattainable. By scheduling recovery time in my week, I can be ready to hit the hard workouts and hard days at full speed by resting when I can, to account for the recovery factor.
#4 How To Keep Going
Another thing endurance sports taught me is how to keep going. When you are running and training for a 100-mile race, you learn how to keep putting one foot in front of the other, even when you are sick, tired, worn out, not in the mood, and busy. By using the mindset from endurance and positive self talk, I know I can keep going, because I have done so before. I have climbed mountains, paddled long routes down rivers, and ran through jungles and forests alone. Reflect on your hard times, how you got through them, and what you learned to find a way to keep going.
#5 How To Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Endurance sports allowed me to learn how to be comfortable being uncomfortable. By embracing my surroundings, accepting them, and thriving through them, I knew I could tackle whatever challenge lay ahead. When things feel uncomfortable, we know we are growing. Embrace that adversity with style and hope for all the ways you will grow from it. I have used this to train outside in all manner of elements and push my comfort zones to compete in global sporting events, as well as using it at home on hard parenting or work days.
In this new year, make it a goal to move in some way everyday, go outside and enjoy your outdoor environment by connecting with nature, factor in recovery time for your sports life and daily life, and practice keeping going, even if you are uncomfortable, by embracing the suffering and continuing on. These are five principles from endurance can help you find success.
Jennifer Strong McConachie is a multi-sport endurance athlete competing in running, swimming, triathlons, adventure racing, and various paddling sports. She has trained for mountain assents including three of the Seven Summits around the world. She has a degree in Journalism, Mass Communications and Public Relations as well a several certifications in fitness teaching including from the American Council on Exercise. She is the author of GO FAR: How Endurance Sports Help You Win At Life.