5 Things I Learned About Doing Hard Things From Running Every Day For Almost 5 Years – Part 1

I’m sure I could come up with a list longer than 5, but I’ve got to start somewhere. Barring injury or some other, what now seems unlikely, set of circumstances, on December 31st, 2021 I will have ran for at least 3 miles every day for 5 straight years. If you told me starting today I would have to run every day for 5 years I would tell you I think you are full of shit and there is no way I could ever do that. I’m not sure I could commit to running every day for a year or even a month. I mean I’ve got the track record to say it’s totally do-able, but it seems utterly unobtainable to me. 

I have no expectation that I could pull off a streak like that even though I’m in the middle of a pretty kick ass stretch of running right now. It’s so easy to doubt our capacity to do hard things as human beings. Even though no one has ever said this to me, I assume the hard things, the big hairy goals, the things we only dream about doing are reserved for some type of special individual, someone with not necessarily super human skills, but skills that are at least better than what I’ve got to work with. The good stuff is reserved for the special people. Those with talent, god given ability to do the stuff I only wish I could do. 

I was the kid in high school that ran a 13 minute mile. Sidenote – I was genuinely happy about the time because it was the first time I had ever run a mile, like in my entire life. My mom has this rule that you have to try something 3 times before you quit. When I was in 5th grade I really wanted to play football. So my parents signed me up for a peewee football team. I lasted exactly 3 practices before I returned my pads in shame. There was so much running. Little Alex Bruzan had no idea that you actually had to run in football so after the obligatory three attempts to tolerate being on a football team I promptly quit. 

The haze our self doubt creates can be an attractive lens to view the world through. It’s easier to create a list of all of the things you think you can’t do, than create a list of all the things you could do if you wanted to. If you’re anything like me, it’s no wonder you struggle to shake past identities. When we bound our potential with our prior shortcomings we minimize the possibility of doing something great because we assume we can’t. When we can’t see ourselves accomplishing whatever lofty goals we have, we struggle to embrace a newer version of our identity. To this day, I identify more with that out of shape 15 year old with back acne and no friends feeling good about “running” 5,280 feet than I do with the guy that is about to run for 5 years straight. 

The first thing I’ve learned about doing hard things from running every day for almost 5 years is that we can do hard things even if we think we can’t. I’m not suggesting that we can do anything we want. I actually think telling kids that is bullshit. They can’t do anything they want. The classic example from my teaching days would be some short kid that sucks at basketball saying he was going to play in the NBA some day. It’s not going to happen. But even though we can’t do anything we want that doesn’t preclude us from doing things we don’t currently think are possible. This run streak has been a constant reminder for myself that despite all of the voices in my head parroting my thoughts on my own inadequacies, we can do hard things. We can do what currently doesn’t seem possible.