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Building Resiliency

By Mike Cameron. On Jan 15, 2020.

Resilience

One of the most valuable characteristics a person can hold, in my opinion, is resiliency.

re·sil·ience
/rəˈzilyəns/
noun: resiliency
  1. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
    “the often remarkable resilience of so many British institutions”

It is one of the personal characteristics that I hold dear. I have been hit with my share of hardship in life and pride myself on my ability to bounce back after a good shit kicking. Maybe one day I will learn to avoid the shit kicking but until then I will hang my hat on resilience. Who am I kidding. I have talked about this before in my article around Embrace the Suck  there is no amount of preparation that you can make, no amount of carefully scripting the life you think you want that will allow you to avoid the shit kicking that life will throw at you.

Resiliency is not a genetic characteristic. It is not a characteristic that we are born with or naturally gifted at. Resiliency is a combination of a number of personality traits that can be developed and honed over time. Building resilience is one of the reasons I choose to participate in endurance sporting events. Many of the characteristics required to complete a hundred mile trail race are the same as is required for resilience in life. For me it is about finding ways to practice those traits in a somewhat controlled environment so that I can apply them in those uncontrollable situations that life will throw at us from time to time.

The American Psychological Association lists the following 10 things that you can do to build resilience. I can relate almost all of them back to ultra marathons and the training that leads up to those races.

Make connections.

Some of the best human connections I have were made out on the trails. When you get the opportunity to run in relative solitude with another human being you tend to both share and learn a lot about each other. There is also this almost instantaneous bond that gets created when you share a similar type of suffering with another person. 

Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems.

On the trail, shit happens. Both literally and figuratively. Sometimes you need to adapt.

Accept that change is a part of living. 

As above, sometimes when we run long distances we have no choice but to accept change. Inclement weather, an obstacle on the course or any other source of unforeseen circumstances can require change mid run.

Move toward your goals. 

Relentless Forward Progress. When life sucks in a race we practice continually moving toward the finish line. Wait an hour and see what happens, just keep moving.

Take decisive actions. 

Training for and ultimately completing (really simply attempting) an ultramarathon requires dedicated, decisive action to get you there.

Look for opportunities for self-discovery. 

Each new milestone we move towards is an opportunity to look deeper inward.

Nurture a positive view of yourself. 

Time on your feet, whether on the course or during training time, is a great opportunity to reflect and monitor your progress. Creating a training program and sticking with it will inevitably yield results that will build your self confidence.

Keep things in perspective. 

When you are cursing the race director or your coach during training it is a perfect opportunity to reflect on the fact that you are in a position to choose the type of suffering you want to practice with. Many in this world are not fortunate enough to be afforded such choice.

Maintain a hopeful outlook.

Visualizing crossing that finish line or looking forward to achieving that training milestone is a great way to practice maintaining a hopeful outlook. 

Take care of yourself. 

A healthy regimen of diet and exercise is core to any runners training.

So when the opportunity presents itself to get outside in ridiculously cold temperatures, I take that as an opportunity to practice the tenets of resilience. Have a look at this weeks vlog to see what record low temperatures look like in Edmonton.

 

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