A sherpa I am not, apparently.
While I can’t claim mountain climbing as a skill of mine, I honestly thought that a recent mid-morning hike up Pinnacle Mountain would be a breeze.
Wow, was I wrong. Last time I scaled the mini-peak, I was in my prime, physically speaking. I remember the 20-year-old me scrambling up the rocks with energy to spare, doing a victory dance at the summit.
But this time around, the 31-year-old me was huffing and heaving, and this was even before the incline got ridiculous. A friend from out of town suggested the hike, and who am I to refuse a guest’s request? So off we went, with water bottles and cameras in tow, blissfully oblivious to the near-Sisyphean task that awaited us. (You think I exaggerate.)
We almost didn’t finish. There were at least two instances where I was ready to throw in the proverbial towel. I didn’t, and am the richer for it. Sorer, sure, but also richer.
I like to see my almost-failures as learning experiences. Don’t you? So here’s my advice for tackling those big hills (literally and figuratively):
1. Pace yourself, don’t push yourself. Can you imagine how awkward a rescue that would be if I had passed out at Marker 9 on the mountain? That almost happened, but I knew that as wussy as it looked, I needed to take a 3 (OK, 5) minute breather at one point.
2. Hydrate. You hear this all the time. Your body functions at its best when it is being replenished with water. I was losing water by the bucket thanks to very active sweat glands combined with the extreme humidity. Thanks, Arkansas summers!
3. If you don’t make it, don’t despair. Not to get all zen, but think of it a fitness journey and not a results-driven, goal-hitting, spreadsheet-charting regimen. So you hit a wall. Give it some time and try again.
4. Do the workout with a friend in better shape than you. It will give you something to aspire to. Or, in your more desperate moments, someone to be jealous of, and you can use that anger energy to push forward.
5. Take a victory lap moment, no matter how small you think your accomplishment was. Endorphins are wonderful things — our biological Prozac. Use them as encouragement.