Run the Elements to Exercise Your Mental Muscle

Quick apology: The low temperatures and snow yesterday in PA are totally my fault. I was on the rail trail with one of our runners Sunday morning, and as we passed a couple running and said hello, I also added, “After today we can put away these running tights!” 

Never forget that there are but two undefeated in this world: Father Time and Mother Nature. (Just ask anyone that tried to run Boston on Monday.)

Speaking of lousy weather, I always encourage runners to get out in the nasty elements (freezing cold, snow, rain, extreme heat) every now and then. Why? Because we’re just too comfortable in our day-to-day lives. Everything is climate-controlled and readily available at a moment’s notice. We sleep in a nice cozy bed, start the day with a nice warm shower, have breakfast ready in moments, start the car early (often with a remote) so that the ride to work is the right temperature, and so on. 

We need opportunities in which to get out of our comfort zone and suffer a bit. It builds discipline, patience, resiliency and character that carries over into all facets of our lives. That way, when we have moments of discomfort, we can handle them in a healthy, low-stress manner. Two quick examples…

1. Think about how angry people get in traffic. Why? Because unexpected traffic puts people out of their completely controlled and comfortable world that I mentioned above. 

2. Waiting in lines at amusement parks. The next time you go to an amusement park, watch what happens to people waiting in long lines. No one is used to waiting for anything these days, so meltdowns (I’m talking about grownups here) occur more frequently than ever. In a family setting, kids will feed off parents. If mom and dad are growing impatient and agitated, their kids will follow suit.

Having patience and resiliency in such moments requires a bit of mental strength. Unfortunately, we’re losing opportunities to exercise those mental “muscles.” Getting outside and running in the elements is one way to get a mental workout and stay sharp in the area of dealing with discomfort!

Happy Trails,


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