Endurance Hacks-The Body Pep Talk

In Endurance Chat by Meghan Burrows

  May 11, 2020

             First off, I would like to acknowledge my intentions for writing this every day this month and follow it up with the fact that I clearly-have not written on here in six days. Life happens and I had set no routine or plan in place to make this happen, so that can explain the quick de-prioritization of this small but important goal.

            Today’s entry is about my mental endurance hack or as I call it “The Body Pep Talk.” You can often find me talking to myself at some point in an endurance event or difficult physical scenario. Ie. Yesterday we went out kayaking in the ocean, which turned from a simple outing into a “pep talk” moment.

 In my mind I had prepared for a potential 2-3 hour outing, did not bring a snack and had gone to the bathroom as close to our time of departure as possible. Also, we didn’t reallllly look at the tide schedule because we didn’t care. It was a stunning kayak, through the Nicomekl River to Blackie Spit park for about 6.5kms and then around to Boundary Bay where we took our time meaning through the clearest water (only a foot deep) and watched the crabs try to outrun the eagles that swooped in from all angles. By the time I realized I was getting tired, we were around the 9km mark and my body kind of wanted to be finished, thinking that since we had a headwind on the way out-it would be easy sailing on the way home. 

Then I noticed that the tide had just started going out as we arrived and that the current was rather strong and also that I was hungry and definitely needed a second bathroom break. The last two were minor inconveniences and I didn’t think much about them. As we started back through the open water portion, I truly felt like the kayak was being carried forward by one wave and dragged back by the next two. I opted to paddle closer to shore and deal with the bathroom situation. That momentary rest was exactly what my arms needed and after that, paddling was much more manageable. Until we entered the river to go home and there were shallow oyster beds, rushing currents and small whirlpools to navigate for 5.5km upstream. At this point, my partner was far enough ahead of me that I could begin my pep talk. After letting out a stream of expletive variations, voicing my frustration to the seagulls and wishing for a snack-I settled in for the talk. 

As humans, we like to avoid discomfort, genuine suffering and uncertainty. I have found that, some of my most uncomfortable moments become my best teachers and my best days outside. So whenever I find myself in a place where I am physically uncomfortable (tired, hungry, in pain, etc.) I have a conversation with my body and mind that is a variation of these five agreements.

  1. Agree with your inner child/parietal lobe of your brain. This means, get the feelings out. Cry, curse, yell-you get a maximum of 1-2 minutes to express this.
  1. Agree to be rational. Being angry is not going to change the situation, you still need to get to the destination and the longer you take to get there, the more you prolong this shitty feeling.
  1. Agree that your body is amazing, talk to the parts that are screaming the loudest. Ie. Yesterday: “Shoulders, I know you are tired and it would be easy to stop and be taken backwards up this river-but you are doing GREAT, dayummm you are strong and I promise to give you a muffin when this is all over.”   
  1. Agree, that you are staying here with your capability. 

“Settle in body. We are here until we finish and you have got more in you, I’ve seen it and you know it.”

  1. Agree, that your brain isn’t going to get you to where you need to go all the time.

“Hey brain, you can either come along for this ride or just be quiet. We are getting to the other side of this moment and you can make it easier or harder-but we are going.”