Misery Training

I’m running in a 50+ mile race in September. It will be the hardest thing, both physically and mentally, I have ever done. Race start is at 5:15AM and on average takes over 12 hours to complete. There is 25,000 feet of elevation change and a number of rivers to cross and mud to trudge through. When I tell friends I’m doing this, they say it sounds miserable. When I research posts about the race, I hear past participants talk about the misery they were in. Everywhere you look, it’s misery.

So why do it in the first place? I love new adventures and physical challenges. It gives me a goal to go after and feel accomplished when crossing the finish line.

But how do you prepare for something you’ve never done? What about the hills? What about the mud? What if it rains that day or is unseasonably hot? Those “What” questions can fill your mind with doubt, causing you to analyze something so much, you may even talk yourself out of doing it.

So how will I prepare?

Misery Training.

Misery Training was something I started in 2013 preparing for my first 100 mile bike ride. Find tough conditions; heat, wind, rain, traffic, and condition your body and mind to deal with the misery you may, or may not, face. That year I’m glad I did this type of training because on the day of the 100 mile ride, temperatures hovered in the 40’s with driving wind and rain all day. Plus I got lost at one point so actually went 109 miles. Did I want to quit? Yes, many times. But I also had put myself in tough situations so knew what to expect mentally and physically.

This week, I laced up my trail running shoes and went along a river that recently experienced flooding. The mud went above my ankles and into my shoes. My feet were starting to get irritated by the muddy silt that was all around them. I stopped to figure out how to clear as much mud as possible and move on. I stopped when I was done and now have a good idea what to expect if, and probably when, it happens again.

Let’s move this now to the job world. On average, people will have 12 different jobs in their career, a number that’s sure to increase. With each change, a new opportunity arises.

But when you change jobs, are you just making a parallel switch or moving up? If you’re moving up, what training have you received at your previous job that enabled you to take on more? What special project or task did you tackle no one else wanted? When someone says “That sounds miserable!”, that should be your queue to take it on!

During my consulting years I was asked if I wanted to lead a large integration program. Initially it as slated to be a 14 month effort. However, management said it had to be done in 6 months. It sounded tough, but I accepted. Later I found out 3 others had been asked but declined! We got it done in 6 months and I have battle scars to prove it. As tough, and sometimes miserable, as it was, I learned a lot and helped me in my next job move.

Sometimes the most miserable of tasks train you for the future. Whether it be running, biking, or projects at work, look at the tough tasks as opportunities to grow and help you advance. Misery training isn’t easy, but the goal is success later down the road.

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