Pushing Limits

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checked by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

So often we go through life day-to-day without much thought. We get into ruts. Few of us venture beyond our everyday comfort levels. It can lead to boredom, lack of motivation, burnout or even depression. So, looking into the New Year, I challenge you to push your limits.

Each of us has propensities for testing our limits. (Before you go off the deep end, I’m not advocating endangering your life as part of this process!) We have a psychological need for achievement, sense of control and a need for self-determination. If a goal is not challenging, we do not interpret its accomplishment as meaningful and therefore does not fulfill those needs nor enhance our self-esteem. It is this very thing of setting lofty goals, pushing our limits and pursuing them that is what fills our life with “life”. 

One way to push limits is to run longer. One reason the marathon has grown in popularity is due to its mythical nature. Once upon a time, only elite hard-core distance runners even contemplated the daunting distance. Now, huge portions people who never thought they could, not only attempt but do complete marathons. The average pace of marathon finishing times has slowed over the past 30 years because of the influx of runners of all paces now going the distance. People pushing limits!

Perhaps you want to do ultra-marathon distances (50K+). Perhaps you want to run more “novel” races like Imogene Pass, Pikes Peak, Mt. Washington (there’s only one hill in these races). Another route to take is off-roading treks like Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim (or the multiples of it). Even for those 5-kers out there you can try the Bisbee stair run – 5k mostly up stairs. People pushing limits!

Another way to push limits is to run faster than ever before. When was the last time you timed yourself or raced all out for 400 meters, 800 meters, a mile or two-mile? How about beating your old high-school times? (Age-graded tables can help level the playing field.) People pushing limits!
There are infinite ways to get excited again and to test your limits.

  How many days straight can you run? (I once ran 315 straight. The world record is over 30 years straight – by Ron Hill – and still counting at last report.)
  Can you average “X” miles per week or per month for the year?
  Can you run this summer when you normally take it off?
  What’s the farthest you’ve run on a treadmill (without falling)?
  What are the coldest, hottest, highest, lowest runs you’ve completed?

We are seldom inspired by the mundane. Whether you are enduring the ultra-long run, the endless mountain trail, counting workouts or speeding along at your very limits on a track; you can test limits. With each you will need to have a plan, train hard, endure discomfort, and in the process be one of those people pushing limits and live a more inspired life.

Some people fear failing at a goal so they do not set them or set them very low – which do not push limits. Ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen if you failed? What’s the likelihood of failing? If you plan, and put action behind your goals you can optimize your chances of success. I’ve failed at far more goals than I’ve achieved. Even with disappointments I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In the end, we tend regret far more the things we never did over those things we did (or at least attempted). Dare to pursue great challenges this season. Put action behind the goals. Your journey will be worth everything you put into it… win, lose or draw. 

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About Dean Hebert

I’m a mental game coach, author and speaker. I work with individual athletes, parents, coaches, and teams on sports performance enhancement. Beyond my academic post-graduate work in sports psychology - the psychology behind athlete performance – I am a certified Mental Games Coaching Professional (MGCP) and certified hypnotherapist. I’ve authored several books and hundreds of articles. “Coach, I didn’t run because…” (2008) is a seriously light-hearted look at making excuses not to workout and how to overcome them. “Focus for Fitness” (2009) and “Screw the Goals Give me the Donut” (2010) are two of my eBooks on mental game approaches for the everyday athlete. I wrote these because I believe that everyone can benefit from the powerful mental techniques that the world’s best athletes use. I have been cited in Runners World, Best Health magazine (CN), SWEAT Magazine, and the Washington Examiner amongst many other publications. I have been a featured mental games coach in Runner’s World and for the internationally acclaimed trail running resource - trailrunningclub.com. I also regularly appear on sports and fitness talk shows such as LTKFitness, Runnersroundtable and for more than three years I have co-hosted a weekly video series with Coach Joe English for Running-Advice.com. I specialize in mental toughness training. My clients include tennis, synchronized swimming, golf, race-kart, soccer, motocross, volleyball, MMA, cycling (road, off-road, time-trialist), running, duathlon and triathlon, basketball, football and baseball athletes. I have coached world-class athletes and athletes internationally. I have a passion for working with youth athletes and helping them apply mental game skills and techniques to all areas of life. Most importantly, my aim is to have people enjoy sports and life to their fullest through peak performances.
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