Pace Yourself: The Key to Sustainable Performance Posted on 19 Aug 15:09 , 0 comments
Last year on the 16th of September I took the first step of an 800km hike.
I started the Camino de Santiago Compostela.
My husband and I planned the trip for three years. We took Spanish lessons. We walked between 20 km and 45 km every weekend for twelve weeks prior to the hike. We researched everything we could possibly think of and watched Martin Sheen in "The Way" about 100 times.
By the first day we were pumped (and very nervous). After eating chocolate croissants for breakfast (because that’s what you do in France) we headed off for the first day of our journey.
Thankful for all the training we did, we passed quite a few pilgrims on our way out of St Jean Pied de Port.
My husband worried about this and asked, "shouldn't we pace ourselves?"
I replied, "I'd be uncomfortable if I slowed down."
At the 13 km mark we stopped in a small village to have lunch with a lovely German couple we had just met. Which is how we explain our poor judgment when we only ended up drinking beer for lunch.
Because, that’s what you do with your new German friends…drink beer.
I looked at my watch which was tracking our distance and realised we only had 12 km to go. Given our training I estimated that it would take a couple of hours to get there. “This is a breeze,” I thought to myself arrogantly.
It took us eight hours to walk the remaining 12 km.
Eight hours of uphill climbing in wind and rain. It was an unmitigated disaster. We ran out of food, and worse, water.
I’m giving you the cliff notes version but the next eight hours involved altitude sickness (one of us threw up multiple times), breathing difficulties, severe cramping, lots of painand uphill climb after uphill climb after uphill climb.
All of the people we’d passed that morning passed us over the afternoon and we got to the point where we had to stop every 25 metres for a break.
My mind kept alternating between real fear one of us would die, to trying to work out what I would do if my husband collapsed given I had no idea how to call for help as there was no mobile coverage.
Finally, 12 hours after we left St Jean Pied De Port we arrived at our destination, Roncesvalles. There were more challenges to face that night as our accommodation had been given away, and in my exhaustion I misplaced my purse and passport while I was procuring dinner from a vending machine...
It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done including going through childbirth.
We kept moving forward.
We reached Santiago 33 days and 800 km later learning many lessons along the way.
Why am I telling you this? (Other than finally getting the chance to brag…)
Because i'd like to pas on to you the biggest lesson we learned that day:
What we learned over the course of the Camino was that if we were kind to ourselves, paced ourselves and kept moving forward, while maintaining a positive attitude, supporting each other and learning from our mistakes we were bound to be successful.
And so are you.
There are a lot of articles and stories around at the moment telling us to “do this to be successful" or “read these 100 tips on how to be productive”, and usually I’m all about productivity tips and strategies but sometimes too much of a good thing is distracting and a major source of anxiety.
Clarity, consistency, collaboration and calmness will be the keys to our success this year.
I’ll keep sending you fortnightly tips to help you along the way.
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