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McDermott: Embrace The Suck

Scott McDermott’s weekly inspirational and motivational column about health and fitness.

Sometimes things aren’t great. They suck. Not a very upstanding word I know, But relevant I think. So, if something is awful (sucks) why then would you embrace it? Why indeed, let me explain.

Today during a bike ride with a client of mine, we were about 25 kms from the end of a 200km ride in preparation for an Ironman in 2 weeks. Coming up next was the steepest set of hills on the route, and the wind was getting really strong in our faces, and our legs were feeling the last 6 hours of riding. Mark said: “This is going to suck, but we’ll get it done.” I laughed and thanked him for the topic, because he was totally right. It did suck, it was really hard, and we just kept pushing through until we were done.

That right there, is the magic. The ‘not quitting’ part. Mark also shared a story of attending bootcamp and how hard the first few weeks were. ‘Humbling’ he said. To be in a class, as an ‘over 50’ guy, amongst younger people, fitter people, and all of that. To be tasked with doing pushups, burpees, crunches and all those things he had long neglected. ‘It sucked’ he said. If I can perhaps inspire you with my own journey. Perhaps you heard I crashed in my last race – November 2015. Nearly died and stuff. Broke 3 or 4 ribs, broke my left forearm in half, shattered my shoulder and smashed my skull open leading to a bad brain injury. I remember my first bootcamp class back after my crash (4 surgeries and over a year later) and how hard it was. Like Mark said, it was humbling. Starting over. Being completely unable to do things that used to come easy to me. I remember re-starting swimming again after 2 shoulder surgeries, same thing. Learning to ride my bike again. Learning to run again after my knee surgery. Same. It sucked. It fully, 100 per cent, no question, sucked. It was hard, slow, painful, awful. I remember getting on the bike first with my arm in a sling, remember how sluggish my legs were, how awkward I felt, how slow I was, how impossible it was to hold a decent RPM in the lightest gear. I went from 10th in the world, to weakest in the class, and it sucked. I think you get the point.

But I embraced The Suck. I have had so many good coaches and great examples, that I know without thinking, a few simple facts, tricks and tips to deal with ‘The Suck’.

The part where something sucks is usually temporary. Like getting back at fitness again when you have been away for a while. If you stick with it, stay consistent, keep pushing, then The Sucky part ends sooner!

The Suck is a great teacher, if you let it be. If you pay attention when something is super difficult, you will learn a great deal about the thing you are dealing with, and about yourself. How to you react when quitting is the sweetest option? What things do you employ to keep going in spite of that desire to stop? What new techniques are you learning during The Suck that will serve you later?

The Suck will make you better. Like this economy over the past few years. You can cry and whine about it, or you can grow new skills, and refine how and what you do in order to get through it. Then when things improve, you are ready to rock! Like us riding into that uphill headwind, our muscles responded and we will be stronger for it! Like getting through the first month of that new class.

Starting to see how great The Suck is? It’s awesome! People think I am bananas, but I actually create difficult situations where life is hard, so that I can become better. In 2 weeks I am racing my first Ironman in since the crash. I signed up for it last summer, because I knew it would be hard. I knew it would Suck. I knew I wasn’t capable at the time, but I was excited about who I would become as a result of The Suck!

So the next time something sucks, know that it will end, look for the lesson, look for where you grow and remember: Problems Solve Us.

Happy Training!