I declare that I suck at trail running but I’m slowly improving. I am 9 weeks into my program, and I am going to say that it is the hardest thing I have ever done. I don’t love it at all, until the run is over. I’m slow, and I fight with my mind the whole time. Saturday’s ‘run’ was more of a rock scramble and it was so tough, I was so proud that I did it and was able to keep up with everyone. The photo above is how SMASHED I was at the end. I was never agile growing up, I wasn’t able to hop across rocks, or navigate bush walks easily without the fear of falling over. I’m kind of gumby in that way. And this is why I signed up to the program. To improve.
My sister who I have written about before, was naturally good at everything. “You must be so sporty”, people say to me at work, when I tell them the kind of things I do. Actually no, I want to say. I fight with the non-sporty person who takes over 90 per cent of my mind, and just I go out and do it, because I know it is so good for me, and otherwise I would be pretty bored. Every Saturday, particularly in the cold, I want to remain snuggled in bed, and not go running at 7am. I start the negotiation with myself…maybe I will do it tomorrow…maybe I will do it on Monday. I try to prevent this negotiation by putting out all my clothing the night before, and just getting out of bed and doing it. Because afterwards, I feel amazing, like I have won a little battle with myself.
Here are the best benefits I have found of taking on a challenge, fitness or otherwise.
You will change your routine – and your brain will thank you for it
We can become pretty boring in adulthood and set in our ways and routines, be it with activities, fitness and even going to work in the same route. Doing the same things, has an effect on our brain processes, we become set in our ways of how we solve problems. When we are young our brains are flexible, and able to adapt and learn new situations and skills quickly. After the age of 25, our brains have kind of learned enough, and will choose the fastest pathway it can to solve problems, even if the pathway is old and unhealthy. By doing something new, however hard, you are encouraging new pathways in your brain. A great muscle for those of us to flex dealing with depression or anxiety.
You will reset your boundaries – and then apply them to everyday life
Doing something tough or that scares you will give you new-found confidence in your every day life. I remember talking to my freediving instructor, who I think is hard as nails but has a fear of public speaking. She is asked to speak at the same conference each year, and this absolutely freaked her out. Eventually, she was able to apply the calmness to her mind that she trains herself to get into before a deep dive, and apply this to the public speaking. I’ve likened applying for new jobs to that of training for an endurance event. Sometimes frustrating, but repetition, effort and hard work will pay off.
You will meet new humans
It can be pretty hard to meet friends in adult life if you don’t do anything new. Some of the best relationships I have now are through the people I have met running, at writing courses, blogging conferences, yoga or freediving.
What have you done to challenge yourself lately?
What do you want to do?