This is going to sound strange, but I love to struggle and sometimes, I look forward to suffering. Part of me looks forward to difficult things and if you’re reading this blog, then I have a feeling that you might share that sentiment. On that note, at the end of 2019, I took a leap and signed up for my first triathlon (Ironman 70.3 Lake Placid). I did so because I felt too comfortable, I felt complacent and to be honest, I felt like life wasn’t hard enough. I lacked direction and I felt stagnant.

Strength is found in struggle.

I committed to Ironman 70.3 Lake Placid because I wanted a challenge that was on the cusp of possible. I wanted something that was going to make me want to stop. I wanted an opportunity to hit a wall and then make the conscious choice to push through. I wanted a chance to take ownership of actions when things are hard. I decided to pursue the world of endurance sports because I wanted struggle so that I could find more strength.

Little did I know that I would get what I asked for.

In the past few months, life became much harder, but not in the way that I anticipated. Instead of battling through burning lungs, tired legs and weak knees on a hill run, I found myself in a different and perhaps, more difficult struggle. It’s not what I had imagined, but COVID-19 is absolutely what I was chasing when I committed to Ironman 70.3 Lake Placid.

This (COVID-19) is the struggle.

The manner in which this disease has upended normal life is unprecedented. It started slow and seems to be all-consuming. The entire world is struggling right now, but, just like physical struggle, this is the stimulus for strength. In life, adversity is inevitable, however, it’s not about the adversity that we face, it’s about how we face the adversity that matters.

In the end, whether an Ironman 70.3 or COVID-19, struggle is struggle.

I think about it like this…

Every morning you get up you have a choice; you can either choose to go with the flow and do what’s easy, or, you can seek discomfort, embrace struggle and challenge yourself. It’s how you handle the little things that will determine how you handle the big things. It’s the minor moments that determine the greater picture. This is a chance to learn to love discomfort. This is the time to channel your inner strength, dig deep and find the other person. Our time here on earth is so much bigger than us and we were put on this earth to make a difference in the lives of others. However you’re feeling, you’re not alone. Handle these circumstances with grace, control what you can control, be relentless and lift others up in all that you do.

We will come out stronger on the other side of COVID-19, but this is the struggle. This is the last few miles of the triathlon when everything hurts and you just want it to stop. Don’t. Put one foot in front of the other, remember what you’re living for and keep on going. The finish line will be here soon enough.

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This isn’t the sort of struggle that I’m used to pushing through, however, it’s struggle nonetheless and all struggle is a chance to find strength. There will be good that comes out of COVID-19, but it is up to us to find it. This life is (so much) out of our control, however, it’s not about what happens to us that matters, it’s how we respond.

“Between stimulus and response there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Viktor Frankl

These times present opportunities to respond well and find strength. If there is any way in which I can help you do either of those things, I would be so happy to do so. Please don’t hesitate to reach out, I would love to hear from you, encourage you and help you however I can.

Thank you for reading.

Joe Rinaldi, PT, DPT

IG: @joerinaldi.dpt

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