In 2020, I went from 0 to 60.
Or, rather, 30.
A year ago, I was a couch potato. This year, I became an ultramarathoner by running 30 miles straight — no stopping.
We started at my house in Hackensack, New Jersey, ran across the George Washington Bridge through the entire island of Manhattan, and finally finished by diving into the cold, soapy water of Coney Island, Brooklyn.
It was the best experience of my life. My friends filmed it. I wrote an eBook in anticipation of it. I’ve stepped into a new world.
The best part wasn’t diving into the water to conclude the run. Granted, after running 30 miles straight, the relaxation is unparalleled. However, the best part is: I completely rewrote my life story.
I didn’t become a runner until late-January, 2020. I worked out a lot but running scared me. It was much more miserable to run for an hour than to lift weights and put them back down.
But I kept facing it day after day. No one knew I was running the streets at 6 a.m. or sprinting up hills on cold February days.
But I knew.
It built real mental strength. I had to take myself out of my body and say: “This is what we do now — we run, we suffer.”
Do you want to know why I did it?
Why I ran hundreds of miles in training — why I willingly made my days suck?
Because I saw myself diving into the waters after running 30 miles straight. I saw the purest happiness I would ever experience.
I Shouldn’t Be Here Writing These Words
Exactly one year ago, I was heading to Army Officer School.
I was tired of having to make decisions in my life. So I wanted a Drill Seargeant to scream at me what to do. It sounded easier in my head.
I had given up on my dreams because I was afraid of chasing them. I was afraid of all the hard work and suffering required to create my best self.
The thing about chasing your dreams is, you now have a chance at failing.You’re attempting to do something beyond you — to give your life meaning. But if you define a point of success, there’s now a real point of failure.
“Often people will keep their goals fuzzy. One of the problems with specifying your goals means specifying your failures. Make your goals sharp and clear and you know what to aim at.” — Jordan Peterson
I was terrified of failing. I didn’t even want to try. So I decided to let the Army decide my life for me.
Don’t get me wrong. It’ a privilege to go to Army Officer Candidate School. I was among 25% selected among the country’s best civilians. But this isn’t what I wanted to do. I was trying to escape. This was my form of procrastination.
Two weeks before I was supposed to leave for Officer Candidate School, the Army postponed my training for five months because of the pandemic. I was given a second chance. I’m not a very religious person, but I can’t explain any of this.
But I shouldn’t be here writing these words for you.
The Window For Opportunity is Closing
The second you’re born you are dying. The window for opportunity is always closing. Wasted seconds turn into minutes. Minutes turn into hours. Hours turn into lifetimes.
We’d all rather procrastinate our passions because we’re afraid of failing. We’d rather waste time than try.
Getting your shit together is harder than scrolling through Instagram.
But because I was so close to leaving for the Army — because I was so close to losing a chance to do the things I love like write, run, and pursue my creative passions, I said “enough is enough.”
After my leave date for training was postponed I left the Army a few days later. I began working out harder. I didn’t care that I didn’t have to work out for the military anymore.
The question was: Who could I become if I dedicated everything to running? How great could I be?
I worked out twice a day. I started running five miles, then eight and nine. One day I really wanted to push myself: I ran 20 miles straight no stopping.
Truthfully, that 20-mile run was even harder than 30. I had never run even 10 miles before, but I knew that running 20 miles wasn’t a physical thing:
It was a mental shift.
During the last five miles of that 20, these were the conversations I was having with myself:
- “This is it, let’s see what you’re made of.”
- “You should stop, you’re going to hurt yourself.”
- “Ok, you can’t run anymore, it’s impossible, you can’t do it…”
These were the most important conversations I’ve my life.
I kept running. I didn’t stop. Not until I hit that 20-mile marker.
Here’s a little-known secret in life:
When you think you have no energy in life. When you’re down and think you have nothing left to give. If you push just a little bit further — if you say: “I won’t stop yet, just a few more steps…”
You will find a trove of new energy.
Momentary pleasure will lose, and you will continue on with your mission.
This Still Terrifies Me
I don’t want to die and find out who I could have become. I don’t want to see some version of me where I ran 30-miles, became an ultramarathoner and wrote a book about it.
Could you imagine that feeling?
This terrifies me more than failing. I would rather fail. I’ll have those days where I look like an idiot, where I have to quit mid-run than to see a life where I chose momentary pleasures.
Socrates said that hedonism is a trap. You will continue to seek more and more pleasure without ever feeling satisfied. Never forget that.
I ran 30 miles because I thought it would be funny. No one thought I would become this person. Hell, I never thought I would become an ultramarathoner.
On most days I still hate running too be honest.
But at the end of every run, I see myself living up to my potential. I see happiness.
Think about your dreams. Think about how great you will feel when you accomplish them — when you finally jump into that water after running 30-miles. Imagine that moment where you overcame all the haters and self-doubt.
It will be the best moment of your life. Now go make it happen.