Yesterday, three friends and I completed 100km of jumping over rocks and crossing creeks in 28 hours and 35 minutes – no sleep! The event – Oxfam Trailwalker. So how did we do it?
Step 1 – The Decision
5 weeks ago we had our first training session. It was completely obvious that we all one thing in common – we’d all decided that no matter what, we were all going to complete the 100km. This is the magic word that we’ve all heard before “commitment.”
Commitment is one of those words that I continue to understand more and more as the years go on.
The key to this is knowing that we’d already finished before we’d even started. We all knew that we’d experience the pain from blisters, the tiredness from no sleep and the fatigue from working this hard and that there would be times when there would an easy option.
Having no exit strategies and being committed to the outcome was the first huge step to have our psychology geared to our outcome.
Step 2 – Getting Over the Barriers
There were a number of times along the 100km trek when emotions tried to get the better of us.
This was particularly strong when a “simple” 12 km leg stretched way out of my comfort zone. It was our first night time leg and we seemed to be getting slower and slower. The more we walked the more that it seemed like the finished line was getting further and further away. It was times like these when I had to just believe that were were going to finish … eventually.
One the other hand there were times when having a positive experience really helped. This was really true when I stepped into my comfort zone. I remember one long period of around an hour where I was wearing a few layers of clothing with gloves and a beanie, and I was listening to Rammstein on my iPod. I was dry, warm and the music took my mind to a happy place. I literally felt like I could walk for days.
Step 3 – Eye on the Goal
Our original goal was to complete the trek in under 24 hours.
Whilst this may seem a fairly big ask, it constantly helped us have something to work for. Whenever we needed to make a decision or we needed some direction, then our goal would provide the answers.
We all agreed, that having a time-based goal helped us get through times of challenge and helped push us when monotony kicked in.
Without a goal, there was the risk of negative self talk pop into our heads, or worse still to switch off all together.
Instead our psychology was completely focused like a laser beam on our target. When the blisters hurt, we’d check – are we on target? When it was pouring with rain and cold, we’d check – are we on target?
Step 4 – Support
We all knew that we were capable of pretty big feats by ourselves. But throw in a group of people that believed in and supported our goal and we had something pretty amazing.
Whenever we pulled into a checkpoint it was crucial to have food and drink available and a few seats set up. Even something simple as someone replenishing our water supply made the biggest difference.
Knowing that our partners were all cheering for us and would be meeting us at the finish line as made a huge difference. It added that extra element that keeps you going when we needed it most.
And lastly was the support within the team. There were all times when one of us were struggling due to injury or cramps but we all gave each other the support that we needed – focusing on encouraging words and holding our heads high.
Step 5 – Doing It
This is the most important step.
At the end of the day, the only was that were were going to achieve a feat of walking 100km was to put one foot in front of the other and go for it.
There were definitely times towards the later part of the trek where sitting in a seat, wrapped in a sleeping bag and having hot chocolate on tap seemed to make way more sense than getting back out in the rain and facing a few more hours of negotiating rocks and tiredness.
We simple had to make a decision to get and up start walking again and go for it!
And I tell you what, getting up and walking when your whole body is shivering and screaming to sit back down is tough.
The thing that helped was knowing that after a few minutes our body would warm up, the blood would start flowing and we’d soon be back in the momentum of taking action!
So yes today I’m feeling a bit sore and tired but I’m so glad that we did it. This 100 km trek was tough and tested us all but we made it. The five above steps were crucial to getting us through and we can now hold our heads high and be proud of what we achieved.
Keep a look out for our next quest!