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Carl Ficks

A 4-Letter Word You Must Use Now

I have a dirty four-letter word for you that I want you to use.


…. like every single day right now.

If you’re an endurance athlete… and you’ve been training for an event that’s been cancelled or postponed… you’re likely feeling pretty frustrated… sad… bereft.

I get it… 

But… there’s that four letter word that’s so so important right now: HOPE.

When “Shawshank Redemption” was released in 1994, the accompanying movie poster screamed “FEAR CAN HOLD YOU PRISONER. HOPE CAN SET YOU FREE.” 

Make this your motto. 

Now more than ever, as you practice social distancing and engage in self-quarantining, you need to dig deep into your athletic bag of tricks to shake away the fear and properly set your “hope” compass. 

You know how to do this. Because it’s what you do… it’s who you are….

You plan a long run and hope the weather cooperates. 

You bust a gut doing interval training and hope your fast twitch muscles respond. 

You tinker with different nutrition and hope to not feel as sluggish. 

You set off on a long ride and hope you won’t have to fix a flat. 

You jump in the ocean and hope not to swallow as much salt water as the last training session.

 You set off for the airport to fly to a destination event and hope your flight is not cancelled. 

You also know, as an athlete and true liver of life, that things don’t always go according to your plan. 

So what do you do? 

You persevere.

You do not let the fear hold you back. 

You bang out a 20 mile run in the cold rain. 

You fix that flat at the turnaround of a 50 mile out and back ride. 

You spit out the salt water that pours down your throat. 

And when you do those things, in the face of adversity, you are truly FREE. 

You own the run. 

You own the ride. 

You own the swim. 

No person or thing can take them from you.

And you’re going to own this moment too. 

COVID-19 does not own you. 

It will not hold you prisoner for long. 

Andy Dufresne, Tim Robbin’s character in “Shawshank,” penned a letter to Morgan Freeman’s character Red, anticipating the day Red would be paroled and could join Andy in Mexico. 

He wrote “[r]emember Red. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” 

When Red is finally free, he says “I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.”


I will never let hope die. 

I hope it is 52 degrees with no humidity on your next long run. 

I hope you shave minutes off your half-marathon PR.

 I hope you blast through a century ride without meeting the SAG wagon.

 And I hope your flight is on-time and uneventful as it wings you to your next endurance event. 

I hope to see you at the start line of the next race in your community and shake your hand.

Hope, like exercise and endurance events, is a good thing and together, they are the best of things, and these things will never die.

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