A week ago I ran 100 kilometres for charity at the Vibram HK100, finishing in an unexpecteded 15 hours 56 minutes. You can read my full write up about it here.
I just wanted to repost some of the “lessons” I gathered from the journey for HKAB as I thought they were also kinda relevant for the sporty types and less sporty types alike.
1. Never, ever limit yourself
Every time I said to anyone in the last year, “I’m going to run 100 kilometres” (other than my whacko ultra running friends), their instant response was “You’re nuts! That’s such a long way!”
No matter which way you travel – bike, vehicle, plane- 100 kilometres is a long way. It’s an especially long way by foot.
But like so many things in life, it’s not actually impossible unless you view it that way. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” I’m a firm believer that if you have the desire and grit to see your goals through, anything is possible.
Not once during the 16 hours it took me to run those 100kms did I say “never”. I didn’t look at it as an “impossibly long way”, but simply a distance – a passage of time – that I knew I would get through. I’d already run the course in my head, visualised myself at the finish and then worked backwards from there.
I never gave in because I thought I should. I mean, just ‘cos it was a long way, didn’t mean I had to walk it. Just ‘cos my butt hurt didn’t mean I had to stop. Just ‘cos I felt a bit tired, didn’t mean I couldn’t keep pushing. Just ‘cos running 100 kilometres doesn’t seem entirely sensible, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.
I just constantly asked myself to do the best I could in that moment. And those moments added up and rolled into each other.
My point? With the right attitude and a smile, you are capable of so many things you often don’t give yourself credit for. Don’t limit yourself.
2. Have a goal, but also have a plan
Taking on the 100km goal a year ago was very daunting. At the HK100 in 2012 I had two very ballsy friends who took on the challenge with minimal training and they got sick mid race. They crawled their way through the last 50 kilometres in pain, finishing in 30 odd hours and were hobbling for weeks. I knew I didn’t want to be them.
So while it’s important to dream big, as they say, fail to plan and plan to fail. Even though I felt three weeks out that I hadn’t done enough, the fact was that I had been working towards the goal consistently for the year prior, so a few hiccups only such a short period out from the race didn’t have much of an impact.
It’s like anything you set your mind to achieving in life really. If you don’t work out the action plan on how to get yourself there and don’t actually do the work required, no amount of dreaming is going to take you to the finish.
3. Fill your life with cheerleaders, and not happiness-suckers
It’s simple: remove the haters, the leaches and the non-believers from your life. I don’t care if they’re funny (usually they are laughing AT you and not with you). If they are not on Team You and 100% behind your goal, they’re only holding you back.
My belief in myself and my potential was also made possible by the amount of people who also believed in me and supported me on the journey. Without them, I wouldn’t have got there. End of story.
4. The valleys are as important as peaks
Running across that finish line, knowing I’d come in under 16 hours and in one piece, I was absolutely, mind-boggingly stoked. I’ve fricken done it! I’ve fricken done it! 100-bloody-kilometres! Whoopdeedooooo!!!
But I’ll be honest, there was also a small breath of relief. There have been a lot of sacrifices along the way. The stress of taking on such a big challenge was a constant in my every day – the need to plan training sessions, then actually doing training sessions and the need to constantly be cautious of your diet and health.
Plus I found the more I ran the less social I became. I had less time to invest in relationships that mattered. Don’t even get me started on the beating my poor body took in the process.
Favourite shot of the day, dusk on the summit of Ma On Shan. Definitely lots of valleys and peaks out there.
I believe in setting goals and achieving them in order to punctuate your life with meaningful moments. I believe another bit of your soul and character is revealed with every challenge you take on and conquer (or even fail at – it’s the process, right). I believe in having a life filled with these “peaks”.
But I’ve also come to realise the importance of the valleys in life as well. By that I mean the down time, the Sunday morning sleep-ins, the rest. Just being in a state of being, rather than constantly trying to “one-up” yourself.
Goals can become addictive. Once you set one and knock it out, your mind starts wandering off to find the next one before you’ve really had the time to relish your achievement. So often we beat ourselves up in the relentless pursuit of goal after goal, not giving the body the time it needs to heal, compounding injuries (or perhaps other problems that we’re not dealing with).
As the race neared, I found myself at social occasions with people who don’t run with nothing to say.Holy sh*t I’ve become one of those boring, single-minded people, I thought. In my determined state, I’d emptied my life of so many varied passions and instead filed it with one, all-consuming goal.
Since the race, I’ve spent the last week catching up with old friends, drinking a few too many glasses of wine, running less and eating more. I’ve taken a week to write this post as I wanted to properly digest the run, chew it around in my mind a bit. And the conclusion I’ve come to? Excuse me for the lack of modesty, but I’m pretty freakin’ proud of myself.
I’m simply enjoying this state of normalcy – this valley – so I can take on the next peak with even more zest and enthusiasm. Just as I believe you need those moments where you hurt, where you push hard and then push harder still to appreciate the good and simple pleasures in life, we must not also forget the reverse. It’s equally important, particularly for those sporty over-achievers out there (and heck, every type of overachiever!), to enjoy life. Kick back. Have a laugh with friends. Drink that beer. Sleep in.
I started the RunRaeRun project to (among other things) inspire women to set themselves a challenge and then set out to achieve it. If just one of you did that, then I got there. My message hasn’t changed, and I hope perhaps if you haven’t already maybe my story will help you to also set out to achieve the impossible too.
But my message is also this: in the pursuit of being super human, we must never forget that we are human after all.
May you live a life of many peaks and valleys (hopefully more peaks though )
HAPPY FINISHER! 15 hours 56 minutes and 100 kilometres later