3 resilience lessons from ultra running pros

1If you’ve thought about something three times – stop and do something about it.

Slight hot spot inside your shoe? Bit peckish and thinking about getting a snack from your bag? Bit icy underfoot and wondering if it’s time to slip the micro-spikes on?

When things are going well and we are making good progress the temptation is to ignore these thoughts and plough on. But ultra running, a bit like life, tends to shine a light our decisions to ignore feedback.

Get some zinc oxide tape on that hot spot BEFORE it becomes an issue that slows you down. Keep your calorie intake ticking over BEFORE you end up in a massive hole. Get those micro-spikes on BEFORE you take a tumble (you get zero brownie points from Mountain Rescue for having equipment in your bag that should be in use).

On a practical level, this is a great rule for endurance sports. I also like the link with the Getting Things Done philosophy; stuff that’s on our minds but isn’t getting done stresses us out.

So, the next time you catch yourself thinking of something for the 3rd time; just stop and fix it 🙂

🙏 Hat tip to the legend that is Nicky Spinks for this one

2You’re not going to die, it’s just uncomfortable

This one’s about perspective.

Sometimes, things feel really stacked against you. Maybe it’s extreme fatigue, a specific persistent pain, or just how psychologically daunting the distance to the finish is.

In those moments, it’s easy to let the discomfort build and overwhelm you.

Our brains can be pretty good at conjuring up worst-case-scenarios and our physiology quickly follows. But as Churchill put it:

When you’re going through hell.. keep going

Sometimes it really does feel like our life is at risk. But that’s rarely the case.

We just need to take a moment to put things in perspective, accept the temporary discomfort, and keep moving.

🙏 Pretty sure I’ve heard Kilian say this before but can’t find the quote

3Have a power cry

Even if you’ve mastered the first two lessons there will still be times when shit goes south. “The gods are mocking me” kinda south.

This was the hardest of the three lessons for me to learn, and TBH it’s still work in progress. I thank my kids for role modelling this one.

This is the hard reset button.

The “sit down wherever you are and weep like a child” button.

Don’t rush yourself. Or others. Let nature take its course. Have no shame and just let it all out of your system.

Then, a funny thing will happen – you’ll feel loads better. And you’ll take a good deep breath, get back up, and decide to keep moving 👊

🙏 to Damian Hall for this one“““`

Side note: I did a long long run against the clock with a friend a few years ago and, knowing that we would likely go through bad patches at different points we agreed a 15 minute “power cry” card each that we could play no-questions-asked at any point if we needed. We were OK in the end but it definitely took some of the pressure off knowing that we had each other’s backs.

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Rob is a consultant, technologist, facilitator and outdoorsman. He lives with his wife in Henley-on-Thames.

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