Thursday, September 11, 2014

Stretching Your Limits

This weekend I was privileged to crew a 100-mile footrace for a good friend. He finished 11th, which means he was fast enough for we his crew to also see the super-elite lead runners coming through the aid stations, and it was utterly amazing to watch all of these talented people.

But I am equally amazed by the runners who were on the slow end of the race, the ones who struggled through that brutal course to finish before the 38-hour cutoff at 10pm on NIGHT TWO. That's some indomitable spirit and mental toughness that I envy beyond belief.

And it has me thinking: while I might not ever be on the elite end, I could work on becoming mentally strong enough to be last. I'm not saying I ever want to run 100 miles; not at all. But I'd damn sure like to be mentally capable of something that badass.

Everyone crossing that finish line, hell, the STARTING line, had to face mental & physical lows during the race (& their training) that most of us will never consider putting ourselves in a position to experience.

Yet many all of us will eventually go through mental lows not of our own choosing: injury, death of a loved one, job loss, divorce, etc. And I think the best way to prepare for those is to choose situations that produce temporary lows.

People who push themselves into lows by choice will be far more resilient when the un-chosen lows come their way. They've learned how to cope with lows, and they know how to claw their way back up out of them. They know that the low is not the end. It's only temporary; it may be a deep dark valley, but if they keep going, if they keep pushing themselves, they'll come back up out of it - and they'll enjoy the amazing view at the top of the hill that much more.

This post reminds me of the runners in that race.  You can always do a little more. And once you believe that, you will know that you have no limits.

100 miles is impossible only if you think it is.

In life, we determine a task is too hard or impossible long before we have really tapped into our full abilities. This is the root of failure. Determining our full ability based on a flawed misconception of what we think is our limit.
Winners are not just the people who are vastly superior. They are the people who will give just a little bit more than the common person. One more phone call, one more mile, one more push or effort. When the voice in their head says, “You’re done.” they still go a little further. And it is in that extra effort where all of the growth happens. The real victories and successes happen after the point where you first thought, “I should give up.” Because when you stretch to accomplish something great, you never return to your original size. You grow. Mentally, physically, emotionally. And the next time you have a big task to accomplish, your reach will already be a little farther.