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Dark Optimism

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Written by Pat Curran

Posted on 17 December 2017

Motivational Moment - 

"Dark Optimism"


I can’t stand to fly. I’m not that naïve.

I’m just out to find, the better part of me


I’m more than a bird. I’m more than a plane

I’m more than some pretty face beside a train


It’s not easy to be me…



Five for Fighting, singing “Superman (It’s Not Easy)”

To watch music video, click here


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As anticipated, this week begins a period of feeling overwhelmed. It’s tough, but it’s OK. Heroes choose a life of constantly testing the boundaries of what’s possible to keep them sharp. In this case, it’s something seemingly of little consequence with running a marathon for charity.

But the challenge is real. I have not run a marathon since 2010. When I completed that race, it took months before my body seemed OK to do physical activity again. Now, 5 years later, I’m back with a “dark optimism” that has never been stronger. Let me explain how it applies in this instance.


The “dark” typically comes from growing fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the path I’m on to race day. Right now, there is a major gap between where I am and where I think I need to be. Mentally it’s draining. I am not certain exactly how I can close the gap. I am beginning to dread the training, blame past injuries, and cling on any other excuse within my reach. The resentment and fear of failure can get so bad that it infiltrates other parts of my life.


To navigate this darkness, I focus my energy on creating optimism. I’m not talking about simply thinking positive thoughts. I’m talking about a “dark optimism” that accepts the situation for what is and relies on faith, hard work, and a strong spirit to find answers from within. It requires courage to continue searching no matter how hard it gets and leaps of faith to become the person you need to be.


Dark optimism is meant to be a temporary state of being, when times are incredibly tough. No one can or should want to be there permanently. The tension generates a spark from within that helps us rise to the occasion, meet the challenge, and endure. Trust in this and, while everything seems to spin out of control all around you, there will be something at your core that will keep you anchored, confident, and optimistic.


This is only the surface of what “dark optimism” means to me. My hope is that this marathon acts as a simulation where I can more clearly express it on paper to help others find their own.


Stay resilient!  Own the night.

God Bless,


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This Week in Training –

“8 Mile Road”



Sometimes I feel like, quitting I still might

Why do I put up this fight, why do I still write

Sometimes it’s hard enough just dealing with real life

Sometimes I wanna jump on stage and just kill mics

And show these people what my level is skill’s like

But I am still white, sometimes I hate life

Something ain’t right, hit the brake lights

Case of the stage fright,

drawing a blank like Da-duh-duh-da-da,


it ain’t my fault

Breaking my eyeballs, my insides crawl



Eminem singing ”8 Mile Road”

To hear full song with movie clips, click here



I successfully finished the first week of marathon training. During last Saturday’s 12-mile run, I found that up to 7 miles everything seemed to go as expected. However, once I reached Mile 8, the pain started to creep in. My running motion began to stiffen causing my race pace to drop significantly. Beyond that point, my mental focus was solely on completing the distance with the best form possible.


It’s no coincidence that Mile 8 was when the first set of memories flooded into my consciousness. It began with random fears from childhood, but then transitioned into how I received some initial lessons in “dark optimism” through sports. I just did not know what to call it at the time.


The positive memories differed but there was a pattern: When fear emerges, I allow my survival instincts take hold. It’s like a button is pushed, but not consciously. I may not have all the skills or answers but a decision is made to trust my gut and be optimistic that the answers will come. Then, without much thought of timing, I unleash my anger to “crush” whatever is in my path. The world becomes binary. Fight until victorious or time runs out. It’s far from graceful. It’s messy! Afterward, I pick up the pieces and take some lessons with me for next time.


This approach has worked well for me over the years. I’ve applied it in many settings and have been rewarded for it. Here is my warning to you: If you take the approach outlined above to get through marathon training, you will likely fail. I know this from previous years of endurance racing.


Marathon training provides an opportunity to develop the other essential skills heroes need to reach their potential. To state it bluntly, sometimes you need more than a powerful hammer to be successful. To take on bigger challenges, you need skill. You need patience. And most of all, you need wisdom.


The achiness in my bones tells me I’m still using too much hammer. To move more easily beyond “8 Mile Road” I have to quickly learn how to use less anger and focus more on building skills. This is not just a physical challenge. It also requires mental toughness and spiritual strength to manage the fear that triggers the anger in the first place.


Here’s this week’s training plan. More about managing fear is in the next section.


Monday: Swim; Core Strength 1

Tuesday: 3 Mile Run; Core Strength 2

Wednesday: 7 Mile Run; Core Strength 1

Thursday: 4 Mile Run; Core Strength 2

Friday: Swim; Long Stretch

Saturday: 15 Mile Run (Establish Race Pace)
Sunday: Sports with Girls; Long Stretch 



*Core Strength 1 focus on chin-ups, pushups, planks, lower back/abs

**Core Strength 2 focuses on squats, hip strengthening, and stretching
***Questions: Email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it      


The Transformation Challenge
“Love Me When I'm Gone”

There’s another world inside of me

that you may never see

There’re secrets in this life

that I can’t hide
Somewhere in this darkness

there’s a light that I can’t find

Maybe it’s too far away...

Or maybe I’m just blind…



So hold me when I’m here

Right me when I’m wrong

Hold me when I’m scared

And love me when I’m gone

Everything I am and everything in me

Wants to be the one you wanted me to be

I’ll never let you down, even if I could

I’d give up everything, if only for your good

So hold me when I’m here.

Right me when I’m wrong

You can hold me when I’m scared

You won’t always be there

So love me when I’m gone


Love me when I’m gone…



3 Doors Down, performing “Love Me When I’m Gone”

To view video, click here


For this week’s transformational challenge, use the time training to think about all of things holding you back from being your best self. Start with the easy stuff. Pull each memory out like if it was from a bowl of spaghetti and you are examining one strand at a time.

The goal is to acknowledge this other side of us and begin the process untangling ourselves from our past. As you see each memory for what it is, extract lessons from it. Then let it rest in peace.

Do only as much as you can handle. The real value in the challenge is that it’s exercising your courage.