Can You Have Success Without Suffering?

[3-Minute Read]The idea that you must suffer to succeed is a myth. My "Arrive Awesome" mantra has led me to my greatest wins both in running and life.

Discover more about your bold mind every Monday

Can You Have Success Without Suffering?

The idea that you must suffer to succeed is a myth. My “Arrive Awesome” mantra has led me to my greatest wins both in running and life.

I’ve been running pain-free this week, and it feels amazing. I’ve run 5-10kms almost every day without a hint of hurt—the blissful, relaxed feeling of the runner’s high is coursing through my veins as I type this. My pace isn’t fast (given that I’m averaging seven minutes per kilometre), but who cares?

The joy of running for me is in the effortless movement; feeling the fine distinctions of muscles, and the tingling of fresh air traversing over my skin and veins. I’m not saying that running is easy, but it can be pain-free. And when you find a way to run without pain, the world opens up to you. You can run anywhere, anytime and for as long as you like.

Some people think I’m crazy when I talk about effortless running. But a decade of ultramarathon running taught me how to find comfort in the mental chaos that comes with extreme sport. Instead of focusing on pain, I learned to let my mind wander—and that’s where it found its most useful path.

“No Pain, No Gain” makes small problems, bigger.

In the early days of running ultramarathons, I tried to smash big goals and prove myself. But instead, race DNFs (Did Not Finish) started stacking up around me.

In the past, many ultramarathon runners believed that if they gave up during a race, it was because of mental weakness. That sucked.

In any sport or activity, there is a point at which the risk outweighs the reward. To push beyond that point isn’t smart—and in running, going too far can result in serious injury.

I finally rejected the macho “no pain, no gain” thinking while training for a 12-day, 860km solo run in 2014.

The preparation for an 860km run is very different to getting fit for a marathon or even a 200km run. The biggest challenge in averaging 72 km of running per day, for 12 days straight, is keeping your body healthy—and that means more than just eating right and getting enough sleep!

Minor issues can accumulate into significant problems if they are not addressed. Those minor issues could be physical, such as blisters or nutrition—and they can also be mental. If allowed, self-doubt will construct a cement block in your mind and stop you from moving forward to reach your goal.

A “no pain, no gain” attitude increases the risk of injury because it instructs you to ignore your body’s signals that something is wrong.

Now I “Arrive Awesome”.

I realized that instead of ignoring pain, I needed to develop a constructive way of listening to it or working in unison with it. That’s when I created the “Arrive Awesome” mantra.

I prioritised whatever enabled me to arrive at my destination each day feeling fantastic, which I know may seem nonsensical while averaging 72km per day. But those two words transformed how I felt when running.

During my 860km ultramarathon, every moment of every day threw challenges for us to confront. Some we predicted; others rose up from out of nowhere.

Most days, the heat exceeded 40-degree Celsius, melting the tar on the road and threatening heat stroke. Flies, food issues, blisters—splitting bones! Sandstorms! Bush fires!—tried to break us.

Our “Arrive Awesome” attitude created space for good management and lucky opportunities. We took care to manage one step at a time, enjoyed the view—and had a ton of laughs along the way! We banned any discussions about going faster or how far we still had to travel.

It works in all life’s moments.

Since then, I’ve learned that my best days and fastest times happen when I let myself run happy. “Arrive Awesome” has evolved into an all-encompassing mindset: one of joyfulness no matter what the circumstances are.

I relax and disconnect from the pressure of the people around me. I enjoy each moment rather than obsessing about the destination.

I’ve also learned that these principles translate perfectly to other goals in my life. My ability to achieve big, bold ideas has shifted to a whole new level: I no longer struggle with problems or get frustrated by Imposter Syndrome.

It turns out, running is a great way to learn how to achieve things that most people only dream about.

Discover more about your bold mind every Monday

Recent Reflections

How I Made Self-Trust A Habit

How I Made Self-Trust A Habit

[3-Minute Read +Audio] I don’t have to think twice about trusting myself anymore; it’s become second nature. I began with tuning into the feeling of certainty and revisiting the sensation frequently.

Have You Seen Guilt’s Good Side?

Have You Seen Guilt’s Good Side?

[5-Minute Read]Guilt left unchecked will destroy your self-esteem and mental well-being. But feelings of guilt are not all bad. Learn to analyse its messages constructively, and you’ll discover a whole new source of confidence.