Yesterday, I walked the 35 miles (56 KM) around the island of Manhattan. I did this to see new parts of the city and as a personal challenge. We walked for 13 hours with only a few breaks along the way. This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
Here are some lessons the challenge taught me:
Both your body and mind will give in to exhaustion eventually. Make your mind outlast your body and your body will outlast exhaustion.
When every step is painful, it takes a strong mind to move a weak body. Even the strongest body will fail without the mind pushing it to take the next step.
Being aware of discomfort—or outright pain—but choosing to not let it stop you is the ultimate mindfulness. This comes with practice. If you can’t meditate in the best of conditions, you won’t be able to in the worst, when you need it most.
Depend in yourself but rely on others.
You’re not going to find someone to carry you across the finish line. Finishing is all on you but your friends, teammates, and family will be able to encourage you to take the next step even when you think you can’t. Find people who you can rely on to help keep you going.
“Embrace the suck.”
Embrace doesn’t mean love, enjoy, or seek out; it means to understand that the suck is part of the journey. Accept it as that.
More people fail than finish.
This is because there are more reasons to quit than to keep going. Find a good reason to stick it out and follow this through to the end.
Push adventure harder to earn more scars and stories.
Life’s exhilarating moments usually take some physical toll. Start playing with fire more; it’s good to get burned sometimes. Make that diving catch; get bruised. Our world is pretty safe so push the bounds of risk. You’ll be OK.
Don’t forget to look up and enjoy the view.
The last few miles were the hardest part. Putting my head down and pushing on was what I felt I needed to do but looking up and seeing the New York skyline—finding something to enjoy when everything else sucked—gave me perspective and payoff for what I was in the middle of.
55 people started and eight finished smiling, sore, and with a new perspective of the city’s limits and their own.