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Amy Russell Headshot

Endurance: Take a Victory Lap

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When I walked across CT, I made a rule for myself. It was simple enough, "You cannot stop for a break right before, right after, or in the middle of a hill". It became an important rule, because Connecticut ended up having more hills than I thought it would. And it was important. If I stopped right before a big hill, I would have to think about the hill the whole time, and wouldn't rest as well. Also, the first few steps after you rest are usually the most excruciating, so it makes that hill more painful than it has to be.

If I stopped in the middle of the hill, it would kill all of my momentum.

If I stopped at the top, it would be unnecessary, walking to the top of the hill would for sure get my heart rate up, and I might feel like I need a break right at the top, but simply, if I kept going, I would probably be just fine a few seconds later.

CT was only 140 miles. CA was 500 - about halfway through CA, I felt like I was starting to learn the meaning of endurance. Endurance kicks in when you have walked all day, still have a few more miles to go, and you stand up to put on your 40lb backpack to finish out the last few miles of the day. It kicks in when you use your mind to talk yourself into getting up and continuing to walk when your muscles are screaming in pain.

The rule I created for myself in CT has carried me through other situations since then.

When "hills" come in life; don't stop and stare at it; that will just make you anxious. Don't stop in the middle, you'll have a much harder time starting again. And don't quit just after, do a victory lap; keep going. Because the top of the hill wasn't the end. The journey continues.

When I avoid tackling problems head-on, it is like staring a big hill and refusing to step forward. I've learned to just face them and get them over with; whatever I'm scared of usually isn't quite as scary once I actually deal with it. It certainly beats staring at the problem, and letting the anxiety build.

If I start solving a problem, but then get distracted, it's like stopping in the middle of a hill. I have to refocus and finish it out. Although sometimes my ADD-like mind wants me to continue down the rabbit trail, I am training my mind to re-focus and FINISH the task in front of me.

And after I've had a great, productive day, and am feeling great about life, that needs to serve as momentum to take me into the next day and replicate the productivity and positivity. Every day can be a victory lap.

It's a simple lesson, "don't let the hills stop you".

Walking is like that, it engrains the basic and the simple rules of life into your head as you push forward.

Live each day as a victory lap.

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