This morning, instead of going to the gym I decided to head back to the park near where I live for some Animal Flow and outdoor training. After all, it was such a beautiful morning so why would I spend it between four walls with bumping music when I could enjoy the view of the Iron Cove Bay. When I got there, I thought I’d warm up with a light jog before moving into my exercise routine. Since December I have had Achilles’ tendinopathy and I haven’t run for over 3 months afraid that it would flare up again. That’s when I started thinking…
As I warmed up, I noticed my ankle was fine and thought why not running today? I started to feel this desire to test myself and see how far I could go. Screw the training, I can do that anytime, this was the perfect opportunity to run and push my limit a little bit more. Of course there was an element of fear, the uncertainty that I could do it without pain, the what if I make it worse feeling, but the sensation of pushing to be better was overwhelming. I needed to know if I could run 5km at whatever pace without pain. Some may call that a gamble, I call it knowing my limit and my body.
I continually try to push my clients just over their limit so they can get a glimpse at their amazing potential. Our bodies are unreal and capable of doing some of the most extreme things when we connect with our inner selves. There are endless stories about people achieving amazing things like Asa Long who became the oldest US checkers champion at 79, Paul Spangler who finished his 14th marathon at age 92, Teiichi Igarachi climbed Mt. Fuji at age 99, Christine Brown climbed the Great Wall of China at 80 years old, John Glenn (77) is the oldest person to have gone to space, and the list goes on and on.
There is no reason why you should stop challenging yourself. One of my trainees in her late 30s came up to me and wanted to be able to stand and squat on a Swiss ball. Well, I first had to figure out myself how to do that before teaching her! Within 4 weeks, she was on it with a massive smile, and that face was the expression of the glimpse to her unleashed potential. She wanted more as if we had opened Pandora’s box. Once you’ve touched that potential, it’s hard to stop and this is your brain firing up and releasing the endorphin and other happy hormones throughout your body.
Think about it for a second. Do you remember that feeling the last time you did something out of your comfort zone, something that you trained or studied for, something that you didn’t think you were capable of doing but yet you managed to do? What kept you going is the sense of achieving a goal, taking the chance to make a difference in your life and be better than you were the day before. That’s because success triggers our brain to release a chemical called dopamine and when dopamine flows into our brain’s reward pathway (responsible for pleasure and motivation), we want to experience it again. Setting small goals that you succeed at helps release dopamine and makes you successful in the bigger picture. That’s why it is important to set goals then break them down to more achievable ones regardless of what they are.
If you ask me, my long-term goal is to stay healthy and be able to move normally. I want to be able to use my body as long as I can in its normal functionality. I want to be 80 and be able to go for a jog, ski, ride a bike and walk to the grocery store. I don’t want to be limited by the incapacity of moving because I didn’t look after my health in my younger years. We only have one body and we often take it for granted but it is never too late to get moving again and challenge it. At the beginning of the year I decided that each day I will do one single thing that makes me better than the day before, no matter what it is. Each day I find a new challenge and I reward myself for it. This is what keeps me going.
Now, I’m asking you: do you see yourself running with your kids in 20 years from now? Do you want to say that you dared to do something you thought impossible? Do you want to tick those boxes and have that big fat smile on your face? Well, it’s not too late and with a little help, motivation, practice, consistency and determination you can do whatever you want. So get a piece of paper and write down what keeps you going and make it happen. You’ll see, it feels good, real good!