I have not suddenly taken up climbing, but I did hear one of the most inspiring talks ever awhile back by Alison Levine and I think it fits well with all of the recent challenges around mental marathon training around here.
Each one is an opportunity to change habits, improve your health and experience something new…but you have to be mentally prepared for the process to reap the benefits.
The Everest Process
Do you know how long it actually takes to summit Mt Everest?
You go up, down..up a little farther, all the way down, rinse, wash, repeat for three months. Here is a map of each base camp that you must reach in this journey.
When you reach a base camp you stay for a few days and then travel all the way back to the bottom, stay for a few days and then slowly work your way up to a higher camp.
For those of us not climbing a mountain this still provides great lessons:
- Your body needs to acclimate to dramatic changes
- Sometimes to make progress you have to go backwards, but each time you move forward you can go a little farther
- The summit is just one point in the journey and you need to embrace all of it to reach the summit
- Success is not always about the peak, it’s about having the courage to take each step along the way
- Slow progress is still progress
- You aren’t done when you reach the top. It’s about taking that new knowledge to apply it forward.
How to Weather Storms
In training, in life, in making changes it’s almost inevitable that you will encounter obstacles. Imagine encountering those obstacles while wearing an oxygen tank, being able only to move inches at a time and knowing that any small mistake could cost your life…again you realize the power of your mental attitude.
- Fear is ok, but complacency will kill you.
- Storms are temporary, keep your bearings and be willing to adjust to meet your goal.
- Execute your plan with the new information that you have. If the conditions aren’t right cut your losses; don’t let poor judgment or stubbornness be your downfall. (i.e running through an injury)
- Be resourceful; that does not mean waiting for resources…it means finding them.
- Be failure tolerant, if you can learn from it.
This simple recap doesn’t do justice to the power of her speech, but I hope it gives you some new ways to think about the challenges you face when committing to a training plan, clean eating, ab work, etc.
One final take away that I think is so important for runners is to remember that while it’s up to you alone to put one foot in front of the other and continue moving forward it requires the support of hundreds to truly make your dreams happen. Maybe that’s friends and family, maybe it’s a running club or maybe it’s just the race directors and volunteers…but you are never doing it alone.
In case the above notes weren’t enough to get you thinking about how to overcome the speed bumps in your plan, here is a little more about Alison Levine.
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