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  • Writer's pictureCarol Alford

What can we learn from Ultra Runners?

I listened to a really interesting podcast this week about a mental toughness coach and ult

ra-endurance athlete, called Lisa Tamati. During 25 years she has competed in 140 races across the world in the most extreme conditions. She puts her success down to having a "water against stone mindset", what we know as mental toughness. During her interview she spoke about about the worst ultra-marathon experience she endured. A 330km non-stop race in Niger, run by an ex-foreign legion guy, who didn't care whether you survived or not. The race was taking place at the same time as a civil war was breaking out in the country. As if that wasn't bad enough, a week before she set off to compete, her husband announced he wanted a divorce - great platform from which to start a mentally demanding race. To add to her discomfort the welcome race party consisted of several ex-military personnel carrying AK-47 rifles as her plane touched down on a wasteland strip - any normal person a this point would be questioning what the hell they were doing there! Just when you think it can't get any worse it became apparent that the organiser had left the food behind for the race much to the annoyance of the 17 competitors, leaving them no alternative but to resort to the local fare of goat. After a 3 day drive into the Sahara desert, the night before the race she began to feel unwell having ate the local cuisine and the following day after running for only an hour she realised she had food poisoning. Continuing the race with major vomiting and dysentery, she succumbed to dehydration, stomach cramps and disorientation. Thank goodness a fellow racer found her unconscious body and forced some water into her to get her to walk to the next check-point 2 hours away. Amazingly she continued the race for 64 hours, running, walking and crawling through the Sahara desert, eventually having to give up after 220km. Most people would have considered this a failure, not Lisa, she put this scenario into context its was simply a temporary set-back. She knew beating herself up would serve no purpose. No matter how hard you train and prepare, life at times can hit you from left-field. Its inevitable to face challenges along the way. Things will go pear-shaped and there's nothing you can do to prevent it from happening, but you can chose how to react. Be resilient, get back up and get back in the game. Lisa did exactly that, she qualified to race in the world's toughest footrace known to man, the Badwater Ultra-Marathon in Death Valley, USA. It is a 135-mile (217 km) course starting at 279 feet (85 m) below sea level in the Badwater Basin, in California 's Death Valley, and ending at an elevation of 8360 feet (2548 m) at Whitney Portal, the trailhead to Mount Whitney.  The first ever female Kiwi to do so and do it in style in just over 38 hours!!!! The secrets to her resilient mind

  1. Don't do comfortable - if your comfortable, you've given up, continue to challenge yourself, push to your limit

  2. Don't listen to the nay sayers - If someone says you can't use that as fuel for your fire, prove them wrong!

  3. Reprogram your beliefs - all too often we take on board beliefs that were created as a child that no longer serve us. We need to change our beliefs, reprogram our minds to achieve our dreams

  4. Stop sabotaging - All too often we listen to good advice but continue with bad habits, make the change, create affirmations, use self hypnosis, seek help

  5. Reduce your focus when the going gets tough - don't become overwhelmed. We tend to look too far ahead, we become impatient for the end goal. Instead take one step at a time, break the bigger goal into smaller manageable ones

Hope you found this blog interesting, there are take aways that we can apply to the situation we find ourselves currently in with Covid19. If you would like help through this difficult time or wish to learn more about mental toughness please visit our website and get in touch. Drop me an email and let me know what you think, I would love to hear from you. Visit our website and check out our other blogs, there's something in there for everyone.


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