During the Christmas break I decided to climb Mount Errigal. It was a solo effort as my usual companions were unable to make it. This gave me some much needed time to myself and also made me think, why do we actually climb mountains?
That day the car park at the bottom of Errigal was full. There were different groups of people walking the mountain, from young couples, families, groups of friends and even some solo climbers like myself.
What reason did they have for climbing that day? Was it something to pass a few hours, a way to shake off the Christmas turkey or just something they always wanted to do? Whatever the reason there is always a process when you go to climb any mountain and it made me think how it can be related to your fitness and life goals.
Making the decision
Deciding to go for it is the first step. The same goes for your own health and fitness goals. Deciding to do something is the first step then you need to ask yourself how and when you are going to do it by.
Choosing which mountain
Picking the biggest and hardest mountain to climb may not be the best option for someone starting out. You want to pick something that will challenge you, which isn’t too easy or too hard to complete. Like most things if it’s too hard and difficult then you are more than likely to stop and not complete your journey. On the other hand if it’s too easy then where’s the challenge? Choose a path that will challenge your own boundaries and smash through them.
Preparing for the journey
You just aren’t going to reach your end goal straight away. You may have to train or build yourself up before you even step foot on the mountain. This is a decision you have to make yourself and how you are going to do it. When you feel you are ready then you still have to prepare for the climb. Have you considered the change in situations like weather or injury? Do you have enough supplies of food and water to get you to the top and back down?
Plan for problems before they even happen. It could something as simple as a night out with family and friends. Have it in your head what you are going to do to stay on track with your own goal.
Also consider what other areas of your lifestyle you need to look at. It’s not just about exercise; Sleep, nutrition and mindfulness are a few other areas to be aware off.
You must start at the bottom
When you go to climb any mountain you have to start at the base and work your way up – no short cuts or easy ways out. In some mountains you may have to travel through a tricky dense forest or bog land before you even start your mountain ascent. These are just like any other obstacles that you may have to tackle first before you start to see a clear path on your journey.
It will get tough along the way
When climbing a mountain there are times when it is a very enjoyable experience but then that can all change very quickly. The terrain could become more challenging; the weather could change or you may find parts physically demanding. The good news is that you have planned for these unexpected issues and are able to adapt or in some cases you just have to have the will power to push through it.
Reaching the summit
It’s always a nice feeling of accomplishment when you reach the top. When you achieve any goal take your time to enjoy it and reflect on how far you have come. It’s easy to do this when you are standing on top of a mountain; you notice how high and far you can see but you can also look back on the path that got you there in the first place. Sometimes when we achieve fitness or life goals we fail to take the time and reflect on what we have achieved but more importantly what we have learnt.
Still buzzing from reaching the climax of your goal you have to come down from the buzz sometime and consider your next step. Coming down from a mountain gives you the chance to retract your steps and know that your goal is only complete when you reach the bottom.
Choosing your next mountain
After you have made it back down the mountain safe and sound take a little bit more time before you decide what to do next if you haven’t already planned for it. Jumping into any decision when your emotions are high isn’t always the best option.
You may feel that you can conquer the world and that might be the case but only make that decision when you have let your emotions settle and have considered a few other possibilities before moving onto the next step.
You’ll also be better prepared both mentally and physical for your next challenge. The key thing is not to take too long in deciding your next goal, give yourself the right amount of time before the motivation to go again wears off.