BE YOUR BEST

ADVENTURER AND ULTRARUNNER SO­PHIE RAD­CLIFFE TAKES US ON A POS­I­TIVE JOUR­NEY TO A WORLD OF BET­TER, FASTER RUN­NING

Trail Running (UK) - - The Right Stuff - Words So­phie Rad­cliffe Pho­tos Bob Atkins

O ne of the most com­mon ques­tions peo­ple ask me is, “How do you keep go­ing when you want to stop?” Ev­ery­one has their own mo­ti­va­tion that keeps us mov­ing for­ward while we are deep in the pain cave. For me it’s al­ways been the pur­suit of in­ner strength, and the con­fi­dence and self-be­lief that comes with that.

I want to be some­one who keeps go­ing when it gets tough; I want to know I can rise above and find a way through any chal­lenge. I’m on a mis­sion to learn how to mas­ter my mind, so that it doesn’t get in my way and stop me from find­ing out who I am and un­cov­er­ing my true, lim­it­less po­ten­tial. Above all of that, I want the same for you, which is why I’m such a big be­liever that if you want some­thing in life, you have to go out there and work for it ev­ery day. Con­fi­dence, just like our fit­ness, strength, run­ning agility or speed, is not some­thing we are born with, it’s some­thing we have to nur­ture and de­velop. As some­one once said: “Con­fi­dence is like a mus­cle, the more you train it, the stronger it gets.”

Why is con­fi­dence im­por­tant? The in­ter­nal strength, men­tal re­silience and de­ter­mi­na­tion I strive for isn’t some­thing that’s use­ful just for run­ning races. It fil­ters into ev­ery as­pect of our lives. Yes, I want to be some­one who can keep go­ing and run 100km know­ing I gave it my all, but I also want to be a per­son who can dust my­self off when life knocks me down, rise up from where I might have fallen and keep mov­ing for­ward.

No one in this world can hide from life’s curve balls. When they come and we are bur­dened with stress, sad­ness, fear or anx­i­ety, we have two choices; ei­ther let life take the best of you, or you make the most of the cards you have been dealt.

My be­lief is that gen­er­ally we de­cide we want to make the most of tough sit­u­a­tions, so my goal is to have the con­fi­dence and skills to get to this point as quickly as pos­si­ble. I hate hav­ing the wind knocked out of my sails!

Push­ing through bar­rier af­ter bar­rier on ev­ery sin­gle chal­lenge I have ever set my­self – from run­ning three miles to 100km ul­tra­ma­rathons – teaches me how to keep go­ing when it feels like I’m at rock bot­tom and have noth­ing left to give. I have al­ways loved this mo­ment. This mo­ment of be­ing at rock bot­tom and not know­ing how I can take an­other step for­ward. Some­how, in the depth

of your pain cave the suf­fer­ing seems worth­while. The mo­ment you make the de­ci­sion that you will not quit and you com­mit to your goal, your chal­lenge, you com­mit to be­ing the per­son you want to be. The per­son who has the strength and con­fi­dence to take life’s knocks and find a way to rise. I love this mo­ment be­cause it feels like a mag­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion. I leave be­hind the per­son who I was and make a sig­nif­i­cant step to­wards the per­son I be­lieve I can be­come.

For the rest of my life, I am that per­son. You are that per­son. You chal­lenged your­self and over­came the hard­est thing you’ve ever done. This does not stop at the fin­ish line. It be­comes part of who you are and you’ll never for­get that. You take this con­fi­dence and self-be­lief with you in life; in ev­ery de­ci­sion you make, in ev­ery door that’s slammed in your face, ev­ery new job you go for, ev­ery time you do some­thing that scares you, in ev­ery re­la­tion­ship that tests you, in ev­ery trial and trauma you ex­pe­ri­ence and in ev­ery new start you have in life. You will now have a con­ver­sa­tion with your­self where you will go, “I’ve got this,” and know that you can do it. This is what con­fi­dence means to me. It’s not about hav­ing a high opin­ion of your­self, or about ego, it’s about courage, the will­ing­ness to en­dure be­ing able to back your­self.

4 Fol­low your fear

Ac­tively pur­sue the things that scare you. I never in a mil­lion years imag­ined I could run 100km or do an Iron­man. Fit­ness and run­ning have never come nat­u­rally for me and I hated sport at school. So I had to change my mind-set. Ev­ery­thing can change when you find a pas­sion and that pas­sion lights up your life.

5 Be true to your­self

Give your­self per­mis­sion to be your­self. I dis­cov­ered what it truly feels like to feel free and lim­it­less through trail run­ning. There is noth­ing that beats run­ning out of your door with a back­pack, some food and wa­ter and just ex­plor­ing to see how far you can go.

6 De­velop self-re­liance

In so many ar­eas of life we wait for other peo­ple’s per­mis­sion to cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for us, to say yes to our dreams. Through the chal­lenges I do, I learnt that no one will stand in the way of you achiev­ing some­thing you re­ally want, but no one will do it for you ei­ther. Know­ing that each of us has the power within us to change our lives and go for our dreams is in­cred­i­bly em­pow­er­ing.

7 You’ve got this

When life throws you a curve ball, you want to be able to have the “you’ve got this” chat with your­self and know that you can do it.

8 Keep your fire stoked

I re­mem­ber the mo­ment I com­pleted my first chal­lenge like it was yes­ter­day. It was a seven-day ad­ven­ture race through the jun­gle of Bor­neo. I’d gone from be­ing a re­cent grad­u­ate liv­ing in Lon­don spend­ing most of my free time in the pub, to our team com­ing sec­ond in the ad­ven­ture race and feel­ing fit for the first time in my life. It felt like some­one lit a fire in­side of me. It felt like that fire had been wait­ing for that spark my en­tire life.

9 Get the right peo­ple on your bus

Hav­ing peo­ple in your life who bring pos­i­tive en­ergy into your life is in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant. Don’t be afraid to cut your­self loose from naysay­ers, mood-hoovers or peo­ple who bring you down. You don’t need that! Don’t ex­pect ev­ery­one to ap­pre­ci­ate and un­der­stand why you love what you do, but work at mak­ing sure you have the right peo­ple in your sup­port group.

10 Noth­ing beats hard work

In the end suc­cess is largely a num­bers game. I am def­i­nitely not the fittest or fastest per­son in the world, but I have achieved things that no one else has. Work­ing hard ev­ery damn day to­wards your goals, whether they are run­ning, per­sonal or pro­fes­sional goals; this will leave you feel­ing proud of your­self and help you achieve more which will boost your con­fi­dence.

11 The Daily Grind

Never un­der­es­ti­mate the value of your ded­i­ca­tion in the Daily Grind. Huge leaps in progress can be made through epic chal­lenges, races, achiev­ing PBs and ad­ven­tures. How­ever, noth­ing beats the per­sonal ded­i­ca­tion and sacri­fice you make in the daily grind.

12 Con­fi­dence train­ing

Progress is made when we feel strong, happy and con­fi­dent. My strat­egy is all about do­ing what makes me feel strong, con­fi­dent and pos­i­tive so I feel stronger each day and ready for progress to flow, rather than feel dis­heart­ened be­cause I didn’t reach a tar­get.

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