You know you have created an effective personal goal to push the boundaries of your comfort zone when you feel simultaneously stimulated and terrified. This is two of the countless emotions I am feeling as I relax and write this article today.
I have openly committed myself to competing in the 2020 Standley Monster trail run in the upcoming West Macs Monster running festival. This event, held for the first time this year, was designed and executed by a passionate group of local trail runners eager to tell the world what our piece of paradise offers.
The event was immensely successful and has not only showcased the Larapinta Trail and Alice Springs but captured the spirit and generous nature of our town. Registrations are flowing in steadily with world class elite athletes among the first to enter for this, now annual, occasion.
Eekkk. Effectively I have 181 days to train and although that sounds generous I am sure it will pass astonishingly fast.
Running east from Standley Chasm the race follows the second most popular trail in Australia – the Larapinta Trail and finishes at the Alice Springs Telegraph Station after 65km of rough and ankle breaking terrain interspersed with the flat stretches of woodlands.
The run commences on Section 3 which is personally one of my least favourite of the twelve sections that comprise the entire 223km trek. The route from the Chasm forms an M shape of sharp ascents and descents before winding and dipping its way through a creek bed broken up with short scrambles of rock faces. It offers little in the way of comfort to my mind – this brutal initiation into long distance trail running.
From here the trail heads upwards to the ridge above Miller’s Flat, an area ravaged by last summer’s wild fires. The final 5 kilometres of the race is thankfully relatively flat, smooth and open as the trail enters the Telegraph Station Reserve.
To up the level of danger and excitement, I have 18 hours to complete the race with roughly 5-6 hours in the dark. By now you are either convinced you need to get on this action and sign up or shaking your head in disbelief that anyone would willingly pay to punish themselves in this manner.
Why am I doing this? To push myself – physically and mentally. To substantiate my stamina, strength, courage and grit. I will need to be motivated, driven and dedicated in my training to ensure I am giving myself the best opportunity for success. The thought of training through the hot Alice Springs summer makes me groan out loud as training in summer equates to less sleep and disgustingly early mornings (4am) or waiting for the coolness of dusk and the disappearance of the scorching sun.
Somehow, I need to squeeze hours of running and workouts into an already hectic, physically demanding week but I am up for the challenge. Injuries and burn out is a very real risk with such a physical goal and lead up period. To try and counteract this self-care is essential.
For me this means listening to my body and acknowledging when I am pushing too hard and need to ease up. By becoming increasingly more mindful around areas of tightness, tension or uncomfortable sensations within my body I hope to avoid possible injuries. Eating and sleeping well to repair my body.
I am creating an efficient and effective training plan with the help and support of many local athletes and coaches. After each training run or workout I intend to reflect and keep a journal of my progress so I can hold myself accountable whilst measuring and celebrating successes.
I truly believe that every one of us needs to have such a goal for reasons of self-belief, self-worth and growth. We all have readymade justifications or excuses to hold ourselves back. “I can’t do something like this because…” Now is the time to step up out of the safety of your rut. Set a goal that both challenges and scares you and make it happen. Inspire others around you – role model stepping outside your comfort zone for others, it’s scary but empowering.
You have nothing to prove to anyone else, do it for you.