This is a blog post I wrote the day after I got back from running the Wadi Rum Ultra... The Trailblazers Club maiden challenge finished on the 15th of October. The team ran for YoungMinds UK and raised a total of £16,380. I was going to re-write it but I think I'll leave it as is.... enjoy!
As I sit here writing this I think back on everything I learnt during this past 10 days. 10 days that were by far the most rewarding, challenging and self-realising of my life so far.
On Sunday the 8th of October I turned up in the Jordan desert to take place in the Wadi Rum Ultra. This is an ultra marathon footrace that covers 260km in the space of five days in heaviest of sand and in temperatures that can force the human body into all kinds of dangerous states.
As an individual who had openly expressed my dislike of long distance running in the past, the 6 month training build up prior to the race was an awakening experience in itself… However nothing could have prepared myself and a team of two others for the challenge ahead of us.
The first two days were a separate race all together, 47km and 51km, where four competitors had already dropped out of the race. Seeing the slightly traumatising scene of one individual experiencing hypernatremia opened our eyes to the fact that simply putting one foot in front of the other was not going to be the only factor. Hydration and nutrition plays an absolutely crucial role as well due to the amount of salt that leaves your body in the 33 degree heat.
The mental phase of the race were days 3 and 4. Pushing 70km and 55km consecutively my mind hovered between periods of unreal focus, boredom and elation as each 10km checkpoint came and went. The one thing I did have on my side was time…. A few common thoughts were consistent and out of all these it was gratitude that got me through my hardest periods.
The last three years has been an unbelievable journey for myself. Like many individuals in the their early 20’s I really struggled with life post education and this took a horrendous toll on my mental state. Coming through those dark periods I have gratitude for so many people, moments, failures and successes over the past 18 months.
By analysing and being grateful for all of these things I feel that I have obtained a few things that so many people I meet fail to have. Emotional intelligence and self-awareness. These two characteristics have helped and will carry on strengthening my mind as they are the key to every thought that comes through my head?
“Why has he/she made that decision?”
“If I make this decision how am I going to feel about it in the future?”
By asking myself these two simple questions I am able to take control of aspects that allow me to be the person I want to be. They allow me to think bigger and grow bigger as an individual.
The first question helps me understand whether or not I want to associate myself with a specific person or not. It allows me to analyse whether or not I will acquire that person into my inner circle.
The second question allows me to reflect on my values and decide whether or not that decision will move me in the direction I would like to go.
The Wadi Rum Ultra was a perfect example of how if you extend yourself outside your comfort zone you can really shatter and extend what you think you are capable of as an individual.
Running the last 1km on the final day of the race (35km!) was a very emotional moment for myself. Gratitude was in my mind as I crossed the finish line hand in hand with two special friends being congratulated by a fantastic bunch of human beings.
I am by no means the finished article, none of us are, and perfection is an unachievable target. All we can aim to do in our lives is to get the most of out of it. Spend time with people who think big. Extend yourself outside the normal. Strive for self awareness. And for fuck sake do what you can to try and enjoy every minute.
What do I want you to action this week?
1. Subscribe to the Inspiration Space and listen to my 11th podcast with Tom Dawson-Squibb. His understanding on what drives human performance is fascinating.
2. Acquire and read “The Magic of Big Thinking” by David Schwartz. The first two chapters of this book, in particular, make you want to jump up and tackle the world.
3. Sign up or do something different today that extends you outside your comfort zone – a salsa class, start learning French, say hello to the guy/girl you fancy on the bus that you see every day…. The experience alone could open up further experiences that could change your life forever.
4. Remember – every single person on this planet has negative thoughts at some point. You are not alone and there is always…. Always something you can do to change it. You are always one positive decision away from changing your life.. you just need to figure out what that is.