In my recent interview with Regan Archibald of Go Wellness, he asked me to share how I became an athlete that seeks out big adventures, and most importantly, how did I build the mindset to do them.
Watch this interview segment where I share the adventure that made me a better athlete and changed my identity for good.
One of my favorite recent adventures is hiking 140 miles in the Canadian Rockies. It was two weeks of bliss.
Every day was a new trail, a new range of mountains to see, new vistas of glaciers and turquoise blue lakes.
My body felt strong every day. Ten miles of hiking because easy. So did 15.
Eventually I did a 20-mile hike in a day on a steep climb in an area called the Black Tusk. The final stretches of it were loose shale rock that you have to dig you feet into to scramble your way up.
After that two-week stretch, I come back to my home base in Park City, Utah, and I see a sign for the Mid-Mountain Marathon, which is 26.2 miles at 7500 feet.
The race is two weeks out.
Now bear in mind I never thought of myself as a runner. The longest race I've ever done was a 5K Warrior Dash obstacle course at a snail's pace.
When I saw that sign I thought, “I'm gonna do it.”
It was madness by conventional standards. My friends who are avid runners told me I was nuts but cheered me on. They told me, "Don't even train. You're too late for that, just rest."
But no matter what anyone told me, there was a switch in my brain that flipped on. I knew with absolutely certainty that I could do this. I thought to myself, "If I can hike 20 miles in a day, I know I can hike 26. Maybe I can even run stretches of it."
When race day came, I'm in my newly purchased trail runners that had just one training run under their belt. I have my new gear, like my hydration pack and goos, just like all the runners.
But at the starting line, I felt like I wanted to vomit. I'm looking around at all of these highly experienced marathons, mountain marathoners mind you, and had to fight off doubt.
"What are you doing here? You don't belong. You're not a runner."
You see, I've never thought of myself as a runner. I would tell myself, "I suck. I'm slow."
But the longer I looked around, the more I felt the energy of everyone. I felt like I was with my pack. My people.
The race started off great. I was on pace to hit every cutoff point ahead of schedule.
When I hit mile 17, there was an opportunity to call it. You can ride the gondola down and go the finish line to watch.
By this point, my legs are in agony. Every step is like fire shooting through my shins.
In that moment, tired of the pain and living on nothing but energy goos, I had to ask myself, “Why am I doing this? Genuinely why am I putting myself through this amount of pain?”
When you are a high charged individual that's really driven and motivated, you can do things to the point of detriment, exhaustion, injury. I've done that many times in my life, and paid for it.
But this was different. This was a different kind of pain.
Mile 17 was my crossroads.
The decision to move forward, even if I walked it, even if I crawled, I knew that it was a decision to make a different change and to show up as a different version.
If I wanted to change my identity, I had to change my story, and to do that, I had to make a different decision to create it. Change your story. Change your identity. CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Click To Tweet
When I crossed that finish line, the metal felt great, but it was more about recognizing that I was willing to go through that pain to change my story.
When you are at a crossroads, you can either stay complacent or push through some pain and grow.
You have to give yourself that opportunity to get really uncomfortable and doing something you've never done to change your identity, because making a different decision when you're struggling or questioning whether you can do it is where the growth is.
It's not when it's easy. It's not in mile one of any journey.
It's in that mile 17 when you're ready to crack and give up.
So that's where you have to choose. The simple thing is that it's just a choice.
Condition your mind first starts with just making that choice.
Training your mind requires consistent practice, so you don't fall back into old stories that hold you back. You need accountability and a coach to guide with regular training to change your identity.
Check out World Class Nation for on-demand mental conditioning designed to overcome mental barriers and help you reach personal bests faster. Click here to start your free trial now.
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Dr. Jen Faber, DC is a performance and mental conditioning coach, working with elite athletes, olympic competitors, sports professionals, high-profile individuals and more. She helps clients train their mind as hard as their body to create world class results.
Dr. Jen is the author of Know or Be Told: How Identity Defines Success and founder of World Class Nation, an online mental conditioning membership designed to help high-performing athletes gain a competitive edge. She has been featured on CBS, CW, TalentCulture, iHeartRadio, and more. Throughout her career Dr. Jen has worked with NFL players, Triathletes, The Lady Gaga Tour, Broadway Performers, The Washington Ballet, The Kennedy Center, National Geographic.
If you want to break through the mental barriers that stand in your way, apply now to the Achilles Advantage Private Coaching Program and see if you qualify.