The Post I Didn’t Think I’d Write: Mental Toughness
Trail prep is more than physical.
I have been pretty focused on getting my body ready to hike. I’ve been trying to eat better, sleep better, and work out more. I’ve started doing some physical therapy to address ongoing issues I’d ignored for far too long. I’ve been testing new shoes. My mornings have started with a short yoga routine to wake up my muscles.
I don’t particularly like running, but I have found it gives me time to think. Well, when I get in the zone enough to not focus on my structured “breathe in for three steps, out for two steps” routine, anyway. Today, my thoughts went down a path I didn’t think I would be facing this far out from my first on trail day. In fact, I didn’t think I would be facing it until well into my thru-hike, but here we are. I’ve been so concerned with my physical self not being ready to hike that I didn’t consider my mental preparedness.
The (Mental) Struggle Is Real
I didn’t want to go running today.
It was the perfect storm of conditions: I was tired and lazy, it was cold outside, the sun was going down, and I didn’t want to run on the same stretch of sidewalk that had been my training ground for the past three runs. I was dragging my feet, agonizing over what shirt to wear, and only delaying the inevitable. I slowly tied my shoes while grumbling. I got frustrated at my earbuds that never want to stay in my ears. I winced on my way out the door into the cold air.
I started my run, three steps breathing in, two steps breathing out. What the heck song is this? Why does it have to be so cold? Why hasn’t the snow melted on my normal running trail yet?
Then, I had a realization.
I could barely find the motivation to run for 20 minutes on a paved, cleared sidewalk with full cell service and an unlimited music library. Shit. Honestly? What am I thinking? How am I going to motivate myself to walk all day long through mud, through snow, through rain? I can’t even suck it up and run for 20 minutes? What am I doing? Can I even do this?
*Congratulations! You Are halfway!*
That little cheerful voice snapped me out of my downward spiral. It gave me the turning point I needed to realize that I can’t get sucked into being tired, or lazy, or cold. I can’t rely on having a cleared path through the snow to use. I need to get my act together and find a way to move forward or I will never make it through 2,200 miles. It might be snowy and kind of terrible some days but I won’t have any little voices to congratulate me for making it halfway through my day. I have a little over 100 days to find my mental toughness, and today is the start of that struggle. I’ll keep you posted.
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