I actually laughed out loud when I read the definition of endurance. I mean, if I had known that was what it was, surely I would have never have touched the thing! And yet there is a whole section of sport dedicated to it.
I suppose, as in many cases, hindsight is a beautiful thing. Having recently finished one mother of an endurance event, consisting of 2-3.5 hour ocean rowing races across 7 days, I did take to wondering why on earth I do these things, on a fairly regular basis.

Endurance as a standalone word, means the ability to withstand an unpleasant, potentially painful and trying episode and recover to tell the tail, without succumbing half way, or any of the way really. When it comes to sport, it really is a relative term. In my eyes it can be anything over say 15 minutes of continuous high intensity work, more or less depending on the sport modality. But when we think to ultra-marathons and events done over many days, this can go upwards of a few hours very quickly.

But for people starting out, endurance really can be as little as 1 minute- and that’s ok! You have to start somewhere, and this really is where the basis of endurance appeal starts- the staying power you learn from chipping away at a large task.

“Not only has your body completed a long arduous physical feat, but you managed to find your happy place and give the mental rude finger to that voice.”

I haven’t always been an endurance kind of lady, however the more I do it, the more I see it’s benefits, and not exclusively from a physical perspective. In fact, I think it is the physical aspect of endurance sport which is the easy part, dare I say it!
There is an internal dialogue which happens when undertaking a long physical task which goes something along the lines of:
‘Yeah 5 minutes down, I’m killing it. Hmmm, I still have a fair bit to go, I am sure I can keep at this pace for a bit longer.’
‘I could just say I have an injury. Do I have asthma? I swear this is what asthma feels like. WHY DO I DO THIS SPORT! WHYYYYYYYYYYYY!’
And so on……
By the end it feels like there is some serious split personality business going on upstairs. But the finished result is where the magic happens.
Not only has your body completed a long arduous physical feat, but you managed to find your happy place and give the mental rude finger to that voice.
Two things have happened here. Firstly, you gained a confidence from finishing a difficult task. We all know life happens and sometimes we don’t finish what we started. But there is nothing like a stop watch to keep you accountable to your results. And a crowd watching usually helps too…And the promise of a cool Facebook post too, who are we trying to kid.
Secondly, you have overcome your pain-adverse monkey brain, which was telling you to give up and go home. Just Magic.

They always say that you are the only thing standing in the way of true success. But when you listen to that voice, you can actually see how this is the case, because it has been nattering at you for the past hour plus. The training it takes to let that voice run over you and keep going is tough, but once you realise that it is just that, a thought, you are on the road to the top.

You only have to ignore it once to see just how little power it has. I mean it will always be there, however, the more you challenge yourself, there more quiet that negative Nancy becomes! And you won’t be surprised when you start seeing the same principals transfer across to everyday tasks. Endurance may be a sporting term, but is a skill which will get you a long way when achieving life goals. The long term perspective and appreciation of the time you have to put in to train for an endurance event, build mental toughness in training and in life, do you need any more convincing?

So now…I dare you! Jump online and find yourself something to train for, and I promise you, even if you are not the fastest, the good old journey, as they always say, is the best bit.

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Harriet Walker
Harriet Walker resides in Canberra ACT and leads a busy working life as Nutritionist and Dietitian, Personal and Trainer and also for the Physical Activity Foundation - [More Kids - More Active - More Often] implementing activity programs and healthy messages throughout ACT Schools. Harriet is also a regular feature writer on numerous topics relating to nutrition, wellness, and fitness.