Adversity is necessary to develop strength

What does a 2 mile run test?  Your ability to run 2 miles.  Does it predict who can run a marathon?  No.  The 2 mile run is a short burst.  Likewise, stuffing your emotions, shutting them down, in order to get through an intense moment, tells only that you can shut down your emotions for a moment.  Using the same approach to run a marathon as from 2 miles is not very smart.  I busted an ankle one year while doing infantry field exercies.  The following summer I twisted the other ankle while running down hill to the point it was swollen and black and I could not stand on it.  Five days later I ran a 2 mile run and had been chewing motrin like PEZ candy all weekend.  When it came time to run the 2 miles I gritted my teeth and ran as fast as I could knowing that it was only 2 miles and would be over in 15 minutes.  This approach gets one through 2 miles, sure.  It was the only run I had to do for a while and I could heal.  But I could not have run much farther on it than 2 miles.  The following year I was still tender in the ankles, most mornings unable to get out of bed and put weight on it.  Yet I started training for a marathon by running 3 times a week.  At first it was too much and I had to throttle back a bit in my training, lessening the distance to as little as 1/4 mile one day.  I knew that this wasn’t a test to see if I could push myself through with pain, as on the 2 mile run, but if I could train my body to grow in strength and endurance to be able to take the 26.2 miles of a marathon.  One doesn’t just get up one morning able to run a marathon.  It takes training.  And so I listened to my body.  I pushed myself on runs to be sure.  My muscles ached so much that I found it difficult to get up a flight of stairs after a run.  Yet I  knew the difference between the pain of a growing body and the pain of one ignoring the signs of real damage.  Over time I grew stronger.  My runs got longer and faster.  And my ankles are better.  Since running 2 marathons I’ve had no trouble at all in my ankles.  Also, the ‘runner’s knee’ that started to plague me, an ailment I’ve heard is common among people with lifelong service in the military, had disappeared.  My legs, knees, and ankles were much healthier than ever.


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