Adapting To Challenges, Reducing Pain: Time To Train

The championships for snowshoeing just made it under the wire before the doors closed for racing events of any kind for any sport. The United States Snowshoe Association raced at 10,000 feet in Leadville, Colorado, with fantastic performances and Michelle Hummel and Joseph Gray winning overall titles. That event occurred on the last weekend of February.

Two weeks earlier, the World Snowshoe Federation held the WSSF World Championships in Myoko, Japan. Michelle Hummel nailed the first leg of her 2020 double-up championship victories here by running away from her competitors. Roberto Ruiz Revuelta and Ignacio Hernando, teammates for Team Spain, won overall in a tie.

These two events, with about 6,000 miles social distancing between them–isn’t it all social distancing now?–stand as a tribute to some luck and plenty of planning to have held them at all. At the time of the WSSF championships, the cruise ships found themselves carrying more than breakfast toast and mixed drinks. wrote, “They became a vector for the coronavirus.” Then, two weeks later, by the end of February, on the day after the USSSA races, the headline read like a battleground report: “Outbreak beginning to look more like a worldwide economic crisis.”

red and yellow tulip fields with a mountain backdrop

There remains beauty even in difficult times. Check this when tulips bloom in Skagit Valley Washington (courtesy Ruth Choi/ Shutterstock)


As we attempt to navigate COVID and what this will mean now and in the future, there are a few key actions and mindsets that can help us get through the uncertainty and adapt to the challenges and changes ahead.


One of the most important keys to surviving this and other calamities falls under the label of “One Day at a Time,” a song by a country singer, born in the Great Depression days, Merle Haggard. He crooned,

Give me the strength to do every day what I have to do

Yesterday’s gone, sweet Jesus

And tomorrow may never be mine

So for my sake teach me to take one day at a time

(Source: LyricFind)

person with multiple pairs of snowshoes on their pack hiking through the mountains

Any time rates as an excellent time to snowshoe. Photo: Unsplash / SivaSankara Reddy Bommireddy

The reasoning behind the notion of ‘one day at a time’ happens to be a lesson learned in adapting to the challenges we face and overcoming truly horrible disasters, like the current virus tearing friends and family’s lives apart. Maybe yours, too.

The good news or sad news, depending on how you look at it, provides clear evidence more disasters lie ahead in the coming decades. If we just take a timeline starting from the stock market crash of 1987, where values fell 50 percent in two days and set off a financial pandemonium, and extend it forward to now with the C19 pandemic, rough estimate results show how often these things might occur.

And they will happen, just not exactly like the last one or the next one. After 1987 came things like Y2K and the crash and the genuinely horrific terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In a matter of short order, nearly 3,000 died while 25,000 were injured. Then in 2008 came the Great Recession, where large blueblood companies were brought to their knees to die a quick death because of the devastating crash in values. Now, say hello to our little friend, the loathsome C19.

So, from October 22, 1987, to now, we have these great disasters on average about every eight or nine years. Roughly speaking, if one goes back further than 1987, the rule still holds close to this. It is ugly, but that’s what happened and provides some indication of what will happen. Having been in the middle of the storm for several of these, I believe I am in a position to pronounce: they all rate a hard ten on the horrendous scale.

Since I survived and am now here to reflect on these issues past and endure the current one, I must have learned something. Just like snowshoeing, trail running, road running, and biathlons, lessons become apparent in hindsight. One of those happens to be these bad things occur without foresight. Yes, plenty of people will take credit for forecasting any particular challenge afflicting us. Still, the problem of credibility occurs when, on a near-daily basis, new forecasts of new impending dooms find their way into the media.

Gloom falls somewhere in the arena of false prophets setting dates the world will end. Simply stated, I predict if it isn’t today, it is somewhere in the next million years or so give or take. Surviving the current pandemic means that one can apply lessons learned personally, maybe or maybe not from some “expert,” that will guide you in the future. Your true friend will be hindsight.

adapt to challenge: man overlooking a lake surrounded by mountains

Draw inspiration from Mother Nature’s sculpting. Photo: Unsplash / Sebastien Goldberg


Address your physical and emotional pain by getting out on trails and walking, jogging, snowshoeing, or running, but enjoy the woods and meadows with exercise. Answers to your problems may come and should come, as you take in the trees, sun, clouds, dirt, and every other thing in nature. Much earlier in my life, I tried to solve a challenging crisis with food and drink. All I recall, the combo provided no insights but did cause headaches, which goes counter to one’s need to find steps to solving problems.

Coming down a long hill or effecting an uphill run, one gains inspiration that seemingly comes out of nowhere. It is like your secret mind continues to search for answers while your conscious mind keeps you from tripping over that rock or making a misstep. Suddenly, the solution shows right in front of you like a notice on Google Glass, maybe apparent the whole time, but you relaxed enough for it to announce itself brightly.

Read More: The Mountains Are Calling: 10 Tips For The Transition To Trail Running


Don’t be afraid to seek professional help and support from others to help you adapt during challenging times. Several decades ago, a man told a firm that was considering hiring me that I was perfect for them, and it became a sounding board for when the world seemingly was going insane. I asked, how do I cope with my challenges?

Top of his list, whenever possible, take time for you and your significant other to go out to dinner. What, no restaurants are open? Well, of course, they are starting to reopen in many states, but you could always get meals to go and find a quiet spot where the two of you can reflect on problems, find solutions, and recognize that just verbalizing them helps release pain.

And perhaps you don’t talk about that at all; even better. And, make it regular. If you have children, find a way to have relatives or close friends to help out that night and reciprocate for them.

Read More: Top 10 Snowshoe Adventures for Couples


Plan trips or events that are outside of your present turmoil. I’ll give you an example. There’s a trail event this fall I entered last week. Now thus far in 2020, a whole host of events I registered for have canceled. I know many of the race directors personally. It hurts them more than I can ever imagine, even though I am sick that this race or that event is not going to occur. Whatever pace I believe I can go, it is slower by myself than a race.

So I have a reason to drag myself out of bed when super tired and get the training in. If I cop-out, then on race day I’ll regret becoming the idiot who couldn’t finish. Once out there pushing up hills, the challenges and bad things or sore points about others I may hold, all disappear. It is something like wearing a heavy jacket, but when getting on my trail, the jacket comes off. Suddenly I don’t feel so heavy.

Expect snowshoe races, more USSSA Championships, and World Snowshoe Federation Championships, to put on your calendar. Plan to go, plan to race, plan it in your schedule. Then it becomes real. It’s something to focus on, which helps us adapt to the variety of negativity and challenges that are impacting our world at the moment.

Read More: Don’t Stress Out: Pre-Race Anxiety Tips

adapt to challenge: better days are coming graphic with hang in there written

Courtesy of the United Nations Corona Virus Response


Virtual races may fit as a solution for you, mainly when your favorite runs are the ones sponsoring it. Treat it like you would when prepping for a distance of any size. Follow your standard pre-race steps, just like at “the big one.” Do the same when “racing” the virtual distance. I looked askance at such opportunities until I tried one and realized its merit. There may be virtual snowshoe events, too; if so, go out and enjoy them.

Outside of virtual racing and outdoor events, you may also consider virtual shows, tours, and other ways to enjoy your hobbies and interests despite arenas being closed.


Enjoy friends who maintain a mental state–can I say it?–with a positive outlook. Some would say a positive mental attitude. In my world, that works. One example for me, Jeff Kildahl, Ph.D., who takes the trail-time requirement very, very seriously with insane mileage monthly, allowing him time to think through ideas and roadblocks to open a door, tear down a gate, or just to prove he is on the right path. In a phone conversation last week (since he lives a long way from Minnesota, we use email and phone), he keeps the creative fires burning by adding new tinder weekly. I always learn something that helps me when I talk with him. Always.

Then there is the snowshoer and runner with exceptional endurance and talent “Fast Eddie” Rousseau. I received a text from him that he trained a 50km by himself last Friday night on a lonesome high school track with lovely weather to start but cold and windy after dark. Whereas I might have talked myself out of that misery, he continued and finished his 31 miles in a resounding time even if you aren’t 82 like him. Did he complain? Amazingly, he wrote, “Oh, well, still keep trying to think young.” Ed, you’re there. You’re there.

Find and associate with people who exhibit great bounds of energy. Positive energy can have an enormous impact on our current mood and mindset, which can help us adapt to the challenges in our own lives. I am fortunate to know many positive people, but let me highlight two. Nancy Hobbs founded the American Trail Running Association in 1996. Her enthusiasm glass overflows. She never needs a chair because of being so active. She never seems to sit down. Next, the Executive Director of the Get In Gear races, Paulette Odenthal, overachieves in many areas. She has grown this annual event to a level now known as “A Rite of Spring,” which rates as a significant accomplishment. She also seems to have about three full-time jobs besides enjoying family life.

Read More: Snowshoeing: The Ultimate Female Bonding Experience

Visit Arizona’s Grand Canyon for motivation. Photo: Shutterstock / Juancat


Maybe you have other crafts you enjoy but have put them away because of the troubles or commitments or just because you don’t care anymore. Instead, get them out and continue work on them. Keeping the creative hobbies we enjoy helps us adapt to challenging times. I am lucky that writing came to my life in this century. Those angels watching over me from above, it must be them. I’ll spend 40 minutes of driving to-and-from my writing office to get a chance to write 20 minutes.

A current project, with no guarantees at all that it will produce revenue much less acclaim, doesn’t matter at this point. The pure joy of creating it blows me away. Hopefully, you have those things in your life. If not, keep trying something until it comes. Acquaintances of mine sculpt exquisite canoes by hand from start to finish.  Joy lives, providing the passion that flows out, making one productive and happy, aiding us in dealing with those other things bothering us.

Read More: Simon Beck: The Art of Snowshoeing, Snowshoeing As Art


By all means, do not quit trying. Take another route, a different career path, change of some sort allowing you to freshen your life, brighten your chances. You owe it to your family; you owe it to yourself.

What strategies have you found to be most helpful during the last few months? How have you adapted to the challenges you’ve faced during COVID-19? Share them with us in the comments below!

Read Next:
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About the author

Phillip Gary Smith

Phillip Gary Smith, Senior Editor, published "The 300-Mile Man" about Roberto Marron's historic doubling of the Tuscobia 150 mile endurance snow run. He publishes "iHarmonizing Competition" on various forms of competition, including drag racing, his favorite motorsport. Earlier, he wrote "HARMONIZING: Keys to Living in the Song of Life" as a manual for life with chapters such as Winning by Losing, Can God Pay Your Visa Bill?, and a young classic story, The Year I Met a Christmas Angel. His book, "Ultra Superior," is the first written on the Superior Trail ultra-distance events. He mixes writing with his profession--the venture capital world--a dying art. He is a creator of CUBE Speakers, a group espousing themes in "HARMONIZING: Keys" in a unique way. Currently, he has two books in the works.
Write to him at, or find him on Twitter or Facebook @iHarmonizing.

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