I didn’t realize that I had anymore to give until I was running on empty.
Three-quarters of the way through a week-long 160 Mile/250 Km adventure race in Iceland, I was on my last leg. Literally. Battered by freezing winds and pouring rain, I was running a marathon a day over jagged volcanic rocks, which caused me to develop a high ankle sprain. I was at the end of my rope.
I had attempted two races previously, only finishing one. Somewhere deep within myself I knew I had the capacity to finish another one, but my foot (now swollen to twice its normal size) was telling me different.
When I awoke for the final day facing 45 miles and 70km up ahead, I could barely put weight on my right foot. Unsure if I could run, my tent-mates and teammates Ash and Jesse encouraged me to get out there and just put one foot in front of the other for as long as possible: To get into the arena and do the best I could.
Every step was painful. But each step edged me more into my untapped potential. I managed to run up hills, across glaciers and black sand beaches, finding new gears every couple of hours. Similarly, I had big depressive mental falls from those runner highs and had to rebuild my confidence to make it further. I stopped often and asked myself if I could go just one step further.
Left, right, left, right.
I had developed a mantra prior to the race, “Strong, Relaxed and Grateful.” It helped me stay centered, as I pushed my mind and body towards its maximum physical potential: uncharted territory. Through each painful step, I must have said that mantra 10,000 times.
After 17 hours on course, I finished in the dark at 1 AM.
That day was pure Grit. I had never strained myself so deep with every ounce of my being. That day I learned what grit truly tasted, felt and moved like. Moving through grit brought me towards my untapped potential and in turn I was able to discover my true potential.
So, What got me there?
Repetition and persistence through numerous obstacles. Dealing with maximum anxiety and being accountable for myself, my fellow competitors and tent-mates. The camaraderie on a shared goal and experience with others can push you to great heights.
After suffering, I found that my stretch goal is now my current capacity. Every day I continue to discover new ways to find more untapped potential within myself.
To finding your true capacity,
The kick in the pants you need. Sign-up for a better start to your work day.