Sufferfests and Epic Days

Put something difficult on your schedule that doesn’t require a waiver or an entry fee.

So you’re doing XT a few times a week and you have some organized events on your schedule. Signed on and signed up. 

Way to go! You’re going to be making some gains next year.

Let’s raise the stakes a little bit. The next two aspects of 2022 goal setting are about piling on some discomfort in the form of pain, hardship, and the unknown.

This first part is what I’m calling sufferfests and epic days. I’ll use an example from my life. 

I’m planning on a half marathon in early June. That’s pretty hard, especially for me. I mean, I’m kind of a crappy runner and I also seem to be somewhat injury prone.

But really, I’m probably making it a bigger deal than it actually is. It will only mean being out on the road for about two hours and the road will be lined with people cheering for me even though they don’t even know me. There will be aid stations about every mile, the route is well marked, and if I get sick or hurt there are paramedics ready to haul me off to the hospital. Plus, I’ll get a medal at the end, for just participating.

C’mon. Really?

Okay, there will be some suffering and hardship, but not that much. I would not use the term sufferfest or epic to describe it.

Heck, the hardest (and most rewarding) thing I’ve done in the past year didn’t require any specific training, had no entry fee or waiver, and didn’t come with a t-shirt or finisher’s medal. It was just a long mountain bike ride I did with my neighbor at Mohican State Park. 

To me, it was fricking epic! It took 4.5 hours to ride 25 miles on dirt trails full of rocks and roots with lots of climbing and pretty much zero chances to bail out early. I had to prepare my own food and water. I had to be sure I had a map downloaded and an extra battery in case of emergency. I felt real suffering because I didn’t really know when it was going to end. It was just hard.

That’s what I’m talking about. Throw an epic day on the schedule next year. Just make up something hard and do it.

How epic would it be to walk 36 holes of golf some day? Or what about hiking the full loop at Oak Openings (15.3 miles)? Would either of these give you a sense of accomplishment?

Heck, just go out and walk around town for 4 hours some morning and see if you can get 10-12 miles in.

Maybe grab your longboard and go from North Baltimore to Bowling Green on the Slippery Elm Trail (or your favorite local rail trail), have a big breakfast, and skate back. I’m looking at you Jim.

I don’t know, just do what ever feels epic to you. Maybe it’s two hours. Maybe it’s three hours. Just make a point of doing something longer and harder than you usually do at some point in your year. 

And the duration is key. Make it long enough that you kind of dread it a little bit. You should lose some sleep just thinking about it. You should really start hating it by the last third. That incorporates the mental toughness aspect. If it doesn’t suck at some point, then it’s not very epic.

Feel me?

So that’s part one of the discomfort section of 2022 goals. This part strives for some form of fatigue, pain, and hardship that’s mostly physical, but also a little bit mental.


Part two of this discomfort section of the goal setting process is more about mental and emotional discomfort. It’s about trying some new stuff or refreshing something you’ve done before. Talk soon.

Leave a Reply