Legos are an inspirational toy. No doubt they have sparked the imagination of countless future engineers, architects, construction workers, astronauts, superheroes and unicorns. The Lego Movie had us both declaring that everything was indeed awesome, while at the same time questioning our core assumptions about what a hero looks like and whether paying for overpriced coffee actually brings us joy. And perhaps nothing makes you deeply contemplate the limits of your parental love quite like stepping barefoot on an abandoned Lego in a darkened hallway.
Legos can also be inspirational when it comes to fitness. In his interview of Courtney Dawaulter (which I highly recommend) Joe Rogan compared fitness to a mountain of Legos. From afar people see the mountain and are amazed, but the truth is fitness is just a process of putting a few legos on the mountain each day, building patiently and quietly. The mountain may get the attention, but really it’s the Legos that matter.
I was thinking about this during one of my own Lego-placing workouts. I have the Black Canyon 100k coming up, and since it was a net loss of elevation I wanted to get my legs used to the downhill pounding. I chose a hill in a local regional park and proceeded to run up at a steady, not too stressful pace. I’d then turn around and bomb downhill with just enough control that I didn’t catch my toe on a rock and bust my face. There was nothing glamorous about this run, no big adventure. Sure, the view from the summit was nice, but it was the same each time. This run was about putting in the consistent and sometimes boring work of placing the Legos.
Some people are gifted with a larger pile of Legos to start with, but I’ve seen my fair share who do nothing with those Legos. Whatever size pile you start with, you’ll ALWAYS have the opportunity for growth. Some follow elaborate plans for how they should build their Lego mountain, while others just chose random Legos as they go. One person might look for the fancy, flashy, “special” Legos, others prefer the oldies but goodies, and still others have to make due with whatever Legos they can find, sometimes even the ones that were salvaged from the vacuum cleaner.
We might find that we need a break from Legos. We step away for a bit, and when we come back we can build better and faster and work towards our vision. There are even times, which all of us hate, where Legos get taken away. However, if you’ve been building steadily losing a few Legos doesn’t mean having to sacrifice the mountain.
Each of us has to find our motivation for building Legos. Some of us receive joy from the steady process. Some enjoy the pride of the finished product, and maybe posting pictures of it on social media.
The beauty in looking at fitness as Legos is that we can all have different starting and ending points. We can all have different methods and speeds of building. No matter what process is taken, we can all build mountains.
One thing I often tell people, many of whom think I’m certifiably crazy, is that anyone (barring a physical or medical issue) can run 100 miles. Maybe you cannot run 100 miles tomorrow, and there is no eight week couch-to-100-mile plan, but if you want it bad enough all you have to do is put in the work. If you’re willing to take the time and effort in placing your Legos, day after day, as boring as it may become, you can build your mountain into a 100 mile mountain. Or 200 for that matter.
So, as you go about your daily workout, think about each Lego you are placing, and dream about the mountains you’ll achieve.