Have you ever pushed yourself beyond what you thought you were physically capable of? Here’s your guide on how to get through it.
I have a habit of doing things off the couch. Always up for any challenge, I tend to figure it out as I go, and by some miracle it always works out.
Let’s talk physical challenges for a second. Like the time I did an Olympic triathlon without previously swimming any distance in open water or ever riding a road bike. Or the time I ran a marathon, after running 12 miles a few times and 17 miles once. But what I just did, backcountry skiing in the Selkirk Mountains in British Columbia – I was totally in over my head.
I had only ski toured seven times and had the heaviest gear of anyone in my group. All odds were against me when you also add in the massiveness of the mountains, rocky cliffs, glaciers with crevasses, steep slopes, avalanche terrain and sub-zero temps.
Day 1 of 7 – Out of the gates, we hiked 1,000 vertical feet to the top of a mountain, skied down the backside of that mountain 2,800 vertical feet, only to climb back to the top again for more.
I was falling toward the back of the group during the climb and the mind-chatter started, “What was I thinking?! This is way beyond my physical ability. How am I going to survive the next several hours of this, let alone the rest of the week?” I started to panic – hyperventilating, racing heart and tears started to form. But I hid my almost-meltdown, took slow, deep breaths and came up with a positive affirmation to get through it. “I am strong.” I said it over and over until I calmed down and continued to say it throughout the week.
Not only did I survive, I thrived. I was stronger and faster everyday, and I skied one of the hardest runs in the area. I became that manta – I am strong. That physical and mental strength was the essence of who I was all along, I just forgot. It’s what we all are. It reignited a fire within me and reminded me that I, and everyone, can do exactly what we put our minds to. Anything.
Tips on How To Get Through A Physical Challenge
- Come up with a positive affirmation or mantra, and say it repeatedly (silently or out loud)
- Take slow, deep breaths and/or count your breath
- Apply the 40% rule used by Navy SEALs (when your mind thinks you’re done, you’re only 40% done)
- Visualize yourself at the end of the physical challenge
- Focus on something visually – perhaps it’s the way your shoes hit the pavement or honing in on a tree in the distance
- Think of a place you enjoy or someone you love
- Regulate your emotions – try to find the humor or joy in your situation
- Think of something you can reward yourself with at the end of the challenge
I hope you all find that fire within you, get up when you’re knocked down or pushed to your physical and mental limits. It’s quite the accomplishment when you’re on the other side of that mountain.