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Taking it To the Limit
by Bernard L. Gladieux Jr.

Within each of us is an explorer, and within every explorer are visions of new frontiers.

In a very real sense, exploring the limits of our own, individual capacity and capabilities gives every one of us a great, ever-new territory to discover.  For the action oriented and outdoor athletes the options can be deeply rewarding, occasionally life changing.

Whatever your vehicle in, say, endurance sports like running, cycling or swimming or  adventure sports like hiking, climbing, kayaking or wilderness travel, just what you choose to do is less important than that you take to the journey with all your heart and make it your own.

Here are some thoughts on the inner exploration that will be the precursor to whatever path you take:

Try Something New: 
You needn’t do anything foolhardy or truly dangerous, but be bold; be adventurous.  It will help to ease your thinking into new channels.  Start by preparing yourself mentally and physically.  Read something entirely new to your experience – a book or a magazine even something as prosaic as the travel section of your Sunday newspaper.  Dare to dream, and then allow your dreams to grow and develop into preliminary planning.  It may be a rafting adventure, a safari, back packing, ocean kayaking, ballooning or skiing.  Adventure can be as exotic or as taxing as you decide to make it.  Just choose intelligent, gradual changes in your preparations like physical and technical training, as necessary, to move toward your goals.

Push to Your Limits:
But don’t break your physical budget.  In time everyone begins to wear out parts and gradually to slow down.  Some quickly use up their physical capital in fast living and bad lifestyle choices, age fast, fade and retire from life.  Beware of these traps.  A couple of years ago Joe Henderson, a prodigious endurance runner and sensitive, talented writer noted that the three questions he was asked the most often were: “How to run faster, how to run longer and how to get over the injury caused by running faster and longer.”

Seek:  
In endurance athletics, as in other areas of human endeavor, generally the best information comes from those who have been at it the longest.  They are the ones who seem to have run smartest, kept their balance about it and survived.  You don’t have to believe everything you hear from these old-timers, but listen well.

Take Your Rest:
Rest should be a part of every phase of your physical training.  Take it whenever your instincts tell you that you require it. Long term success and happiness from activity requiring physical endurance and strength depends a great deal on self-knowledge which includes knowing when to ease up and when to lay off.  Rest is the critical flip side of effort.  If you are in the daily, hard, training habit or use the high-powered training program developed for a world class, elite runner, there is a good chance your improvement will be frustratingly slow or that you will find yourself on the edge of overuse injury.  The problems you experience may not be due at all to your own, inherent limitations, but could be just the result of a training routine that is unremittingly and inappropriately intense for you.

Play
Injury, fatigue, boredom, tension, depression and a variety of other early signs of burnout will invariably cut short any voyage of self discovery and exotic exploration.  The best remedy, happily, is the most pleasant and the easiest to carry out.  Simply let go, and play as if you were a child, and the world were your playground – which it can be if you make it so.

In Good Health,
Bernard (Bun) Gladieux

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