The obstacle is the way

Hi Everyone!!!


Hope you’re all noticing and enjoying the longer days. I didn’t need my headlamp after about the first 10 minutes of my run this morning! Small celebrations.


Congrats to the LES crew who ran the Donna Half Marathon on Sunday! It was an amazing celebration of resilience, strength and community, and a great starting point for Spring training. Here we go!!!!


This week I’ve been thinking about challenges and doing hard things. It is interesting how we seek these out at times. We know there is growth and learning through effort and struggle, and many of us seek out these experiences. I am sure that is what brought most of us to endurance sport in the first place. I’ve been reading a bit about some Stoic musings, in Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. One of his great insights is “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” This quote is expanded upon by Ryan Holiday in the aptly named book (which I haven’t read): “The Obstacle is the Way”. The idea is basically that our best innovations, breakthroughs, discoveries, insights, occur because there is a threat or challenge – an obstacle. Therefore we should seek out and embrace the hard things and the challenges if we truly want to grow. And when we’re truly inhabiting a growth mindset, we can take a lot of joy and pleasure in seeking out these obstacles.


But what I notice in myself (and I think this is fairly universal) is that I can easily lose sight of that purpose when I’m measuring myself – particularly in running. If I am after an experience that challenges me mentally and physically, I shouldn’t just want a certain result and hope it comes easily. Sometimes I approach races with an excitement about a hard challenge ahead of me. Those often end up being my best races. But sometimes I slip back and get too attached to the end result and it pulls me out of embracing the process. I am looking for the result, not the experience. I want it to feel easy and I want a fast time. Ha. And sometimes a hard, challenging experience can result in a time that we don’t feel “should” be reflective of that experience. But the time is not what matters – in reality, when we zoom way out and pretend that other peoples’ eyes aren’t on us, that is not what we’re seeking. We are looking for an experience in which we can overcome our own fears and accept the obstacles without judgement. If that’s the case we should be able to embrace snowstorms and hurricane winds during racing conditions. I’m working on this! I just think it is interesting and a good reminder. So try to seek out hard things for their enjoyment and for the sake of challenging yourself and overcoming them. A little afraid of 5K’s? Seek them out as an experience! Intimidated by working out with others? There’s an opportunity to face a challenge! Not confident doing long runs alone? See what you can learn! If you are challenged and you persevere, you have succeeded. I truly think that even at the Olympic level, it is the athletes who can maintain this mindset who make it to the top. (and I know they work on this with teams of sports psychologists, so don’t judge yourself if you lapse and forget to embrace the challenge – that is yet another obstacle to point yourself towards… I know I am!)


On to tomorrow’s workout: Hills! + Tempo! (I will aim to be there around 6:10, but start when you get there).


  1. 3-4 x Pottery Rd followed by 5 min tempo (let’s find a little loop maybe on neighbourhood roads with ok footing) – Repeat (you don’t have to do the exact same # of hills second time – depends on how much of a challenge you’re seeking ;))
  2. If you raced Donna, you can jog up and say ‘hi’ but lay off the workout for now. If feeling ok by Friday you can try a tempo – talk to me for options.


That is all for now – see y’all on the roads!