How my first ultra-endurance challenge changed my mindset towards life.

If someone was to ask you, what is your most valuable mental skill – would you have an answer? For me, it would be discipline and mental resilience, an answer I would never have found without completing two ultra-endurance challenges.

Early last year, as 2020 was getting considerably worse, I decided to see how far I could push myself as 2020 made me question ‘what I was made of’. However, I wanted to do a little bit of good along the way, so I decided to do so by completing an ultra-endurance challenge for charity. 

On the 4th of August 2020, I saw that there was an explosion in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. The explosion devasted the city, killing over two hundred people and leaving three hundred thousand people homeless. I could not imagine losing my home, especially in the midst of a global pandemic. So, I decided that I wanted to try and help.

I considered a lot of different options, but I decided on one, one that would test me on every level. I decided to run the distance of an ultra-marathon (thirty miles). I would do this by running around the coast of Fife to raise money for the British Red Cross’s support effort which was helping people affected by the blast in Beirut. Without over thinking the technicalities of the challenge, I made a Go Fund Me and set a date for the run which was the 24th of August – twenty days away.

The next twenty days were some of the most gruelling of my life, I was running twice a day with a mobility/stretching routine alongside each run and eating over four thousand calories each day. For me, it was not the run that was the challenge, it was the preparation. You may be surprised to hear this, but I hate running, I have never been good at it nor had any inclination to run more than a few miles before. This was exactly the reason why I decided to run an ultra-marathon with only a half marathon distance ‘under my belt’ previously – it was the hardest challenge I could think of.

Previously to this challenge, my mindset was always strong to train in sport, but in overall life it was not as strong. I was not as motivated as much and felt quite lost a lot of the time. Failing to set goals for myself and continuing to make excuses led me to a very unhappy place within myself. After my ultra-marathon however, everything changed. Setting a goal, working hard and achieving the goal changed my mindset to not only sport, but to life.

Now I am not saying you have to run an ultra-marathon to change your mindset, it really can be as simple as setting a small goal and working hard towards it. It’s like building muscle memory, you continuously set a small goal, achieve it and it becomes easier and easier as time goes on.  

Without thinking your mindset changes, your motivation forms into discipline and you never look back. Sure, there will be set backs, low points, after all – we are all human. But setting yourself goals and trying to achieve them gives you purpose, focus and drive – even if it feels like a lot of effort.

So why not make 2021 your year? Set yourself a goal and go after it. I look at 2021 now as a percentage block, each goal met/achieved will fill that bar up little bit more. Doing this may help you stay focussed/driven and before you know it, you will be looking back at 2021 as a new person with a new mindset.

For those interested, I ended up completing those thirty miles in just over five hours raising £1450 for the British red Cross. I did this with twenty days of training. 2020, was the start of my ultra-endurance journey so make 2021 your year to find your journey.

I will finish with this which I have found helpful to keep telling myself – motivate yourself into your goals, then allow discipline to do the hard work.  

Thanks for reading!

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