By Derek Neighbors, Published on November 3, 2022
I have noticed running steep at a reasonable grade, 20% over a quarter mile. When I look at a recent rim to rim, it was probably a 20% grade per mile for four or five miles. Probably 15% grade for six miles roughly give or take. I noticed that in these sections that are a quarter mile or half mile my legs would start to burn. My calves would start to tighten and I would start to materially change my pace. Something about the change or maybe lactate releasing would almost instantly raise a mental barrier. Oh no, I don’t have any gas left in the tank. I need to slow down and not over do it.
Then when I get to the top and I still have a few files to. I don’t want to burn out, so I start to slow or I put a mental dread on my cognitive load. I found after the Grand Canyon that I am in no different shape physically than I was last month. You could argue I am potentially in worse shape after taking some time away, but now when I am in these stretches and I feel that burn my head doesn’t go to “Oh my God, we still have a few football fields to go before we hit the top.” My head goes into terminator mode. “You can see the end. This is no big deal. You got this.” When my calves are on fire, my head says, “Don’t worry about this, you did something five times this and ten times the pain and still went another 10 miles afterwards. You have plenty left in the tank. This is no big deal. Keep going.”
Mentally it is totally different. It is like a superpower. When you unlock the ability to push your mind past what your body thinks is the end. When you set a new reality, even though your body feels all the same sensations, your mind is able to say “this is bullshit, body you are lying. That pain ain’t real.” It’s just a different world. I don’t think its just applies to the physical. I think this is why we have to push ourselves outside of a comfort zone. Well past where our bodies fail or our skills fail and we are forced to mentally slog through because that is the real thing we are improving. Our capacity to to push past where we think the end is.
It’s hard to fucking build this capacity because we live in a bitch ass world. It tells us the minute that you fail. It’s okay. Take a break. Self-care. You’re trying too much. That’s too hard. Fuck it. Anybody’s that done anything Fucking amazing. They failed too, but they didn’t say, let’s go into fucking self-care mode.
They didn’t say it’s too hard. They fucking did more than they thought was possible in that moment. They pushed themselves to the next block. That doesn’t mean that self-care isn’t important. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t rest. It doesn’t mean you should always be on, but you have know difference between when you’ve got your bitch voice barking in your ear telling you ain’t fucking good enough between when you really do need a break. We’re bad at knowing the difference in any given moment.
You’ve gotta surround yourself with people who will call you on your shit, tell you when you need to take break, and call you out when you don’t need , and you’re just being a bitch.