The Obstacle Run is the Way

Summary: As with all obstacles (in life), your mind may be programmed to follow the path of least  resistance instead of making additional efforts where obstacles are turned into opportunities.


How obstacles, like running a half marathon,  can be turned into opportunities.

Author: Nanning Jacobs
Reading Time: 5 minutes

The Obstacle is the Way!

As inspired by the ancient Greek Philosophy “Stoic”, who also triggered Ryan Holiday in his book  “The Obstacle is the Way”,  I realized that in order to turn any obstacle into a significant success or achievement (to be proud off), you will be confronted along your path with enduring pain, adversity and even with perseverance and resilience.

According to the Stoic mindset, along the path focus on the things that you can control. You should not allocate time and energy to those things that are out of reach. Stay determined to turn every obstacle into a challenge or opportunity. This will enable you to learn, strengthen yourself and become the tougher you.



Let’s translate this into a practical 21st century dilemma. Imagine that you ran the maximum distance in your life of 5 km’s, and you are challenged by your colleagues to join your company in running a 5 km’s obstacle race or a half marathon (21 km) for the first time in your life. Let’s say that the race is due to take place between 3 and 6 months from now. The obstacle is defined as the additional 5 or 16 km for which there need to be intensively trained that will make you; suffer in pain; sweat like you’re running in the Gobi Dessert, and most probably makes you cry at the finish because you are an emotional roller coaster. Nevertheless, as the obstacle comes in your way, you now have 2 options;

1) You hit the opportunity, become fully determined to nail this goal and will go for gold at the finish line!

2) you run (figuratively speaking of course) and freeze by the overwhelming thought that you can never conquer such obstacles or a 21 km challenge. 

Plan your obstacle run SMART!

Next to the philosophy of Stoic, as with all things in life, whether you learn to ride the bike, master a second language or become a surgeon professional, your: “step by step approach”, enables you to reach a certain level of control and expertise.  Therefore, careful (SMART) planning and time management are on your side.

With carefull planning and dedication they also build the Chinese Wall and the Pyramides of Gyza.

A 21 km marathon sounds overwhelming, but hey; with carefull planning and dedication they also build the Chinese Wall and the Pyramides of Gyza,, long before today’s technology. You should therefore never freeze. Remember that there are, especially in the era of “the internet of things”, unlimited resources to guide you through any mental or physical obstacle that lies in your way.



It all starts with the right mind-set

I am fully aware that not everyone likes running (read article on; “4 Ways to learn to love it”), and I know you will not go from hating running to finishing a marathon below 3 hours. However, it is the plan on how to approach any obstacle in life that will help you reach your goal. Based on any previous obstacle experience, and the way you have been able to tackle this, you gain trust in your capabilities in regards to setting realistic satisfying goals.

First convince the mind! Eliminate those obstacles you cannot control, find out your personal strengths already acquired and weaknesses that need additional attention.

If you break down a goal in steps so your mind can make the steps your body definitely will follow.

Inspired?  I can highly recommend the following book; The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday.

Want to know how I personally experienced the Greek Stoic Philosophy, read my article on “What does it take to run a sub-3 hour Marathon?

Where I personally and literary discovered that the obstacle (run) is the way;