In this episode I explore why it is SO important to be honest with yourself about your capabilities during training and hiking, and to not always avoid things which you are not great at.
Introduction to the importance of not avoiding weaknesses
[0:00] Hello, hello, ladies and gentlemen. In today's episode, we are talking through episode number six of my 20-episode mini-series around 20 lessons learned from 20 weeks of training.
And essentially, today, we are talking all about a really, really, really important topic, which is don't avoid what you suck at.
So, let me tell you the story and where this kind of came about and where this was inspired from.
Now, through the training process that I went through the martial arts journey.
It was mixed martial arts. And essentially through that process, there were really three big disciplines for the training that we needed to get good at.
There was striking, which is like, you know, punching and kicking.
There was wrestling, where you're kind of wrestling around.
And there was like Brazilian jujitsu, where you're kind of doing stuff on the ground. So three different disciplines we kind of needed to learn through this process.
[0:52] And I realized early on that I really sucked at one of the disciplines.
Ones. It was just taking me way, way longer than most people to pick up, like even the most basic concepts.
I was pretty much worse than everyone. And I really, really struggled at it.
Unconscious avoidance of the weak discipline
[1:05] No, not to say I was any good at the other ones, but it was a bit of a learning process. But this one particular thing, I just really sucked at it.
And because of this, unconsciously, I began to kind of try my best to avoid it in the sense that like in the sessions, we couldn't really avoid this.
Like we we had to learn it. But during the sessions when we were learning this stuff, I really tried to play it really, really safe because I didn't know much.
I didn't feel good. I felt behind everyone.
So I was like, I don't want to make a mistake. I don't want to kind of show this to people. And I was playing it really safe.
When we're practicing and learning it, I really did the bare minimum.
I wasn't trying new things. I wasn't kind of pushing myself.
I wasn't experimenting.
I was just kind of doing the bare minimum, resting lots, trying to avoid doing doing examples and all of this and really just doing the minimum.
[1:52] And when we were outside of the session, so, you know, as I've said in the podcast or in this mini-series so far, I was doing other training outside of our, like, group training.
And when I was doing my own stuff, I wasn't practicing it on my own.
I didn't really think about it. I didn't just look at videos like it or read articles about it or other stuff that I was doing for the other disciplines.
I ultimately just tried to ignore it and just try to push it in the back of my head.
Realization of the mistake and attempts to improve
[2:14] And unfortunately, this kind of compounded the issue because I was behind.
I was slower than everyone. And I just kept on getting further and further behind.
[2:22] Now, after a while, and it wasn't a quick while, it was a while, I realized what was going on.
I kind of identified it and I was like, oh my gosh, this sucks.
I've intentionally been ignoring it and it's been getting worse and I'm really, really struggling with it.
I did try to turn things around because I was like, this is important for this process. There's no ignoring it. It has to be done.
I did try to turn things around.
I began to pay a little bit more attention during in those sessions.
I asked questions. I sort of replayed things in my mind outside of the sessions.
I started watching some videos.
And slowly, slowly, it got better. But I was still really, really far behind.
And ultimately, you know, this did affect my enjoyment through those sessions.
You know, when we're actually practicing that, I wasn't particularly enjoying it, not like the other things.
My confidence when I was sort of doing things and trying things in the session wasn't really there.
And honestly, it did cause me a little bit of underlying worry because I was like, you know what?
More than likely, I'm going to have to do this on the actual event.
More than likely, I can't escape this, and I'm so far behind.
I really struggled with it, and it was kind of playing in the back of my head. Now.
[3:29] The simple solution for this, in hindsight, is I knew I sucked at this very, very early on.
I knew it wasn't very good. I knew it needed work, but I just ignored it.
And in all honesty, the simple solution of this, in hindsight, was if I identified that I sucked at it earlier, I could have taken action on it earlier.
At the bare, bare, bare, bare minimum, I could have just made sure, like, look, I need to stay engaged during the sessions. When my mind starts to wander, I start to make excuses.
I start to think about it. I can just snap my mind back, I could tell myself, Rowan, concentrate.
Rowan, try this. Rowan, stop talking down to yourself, or whatever it may be.
[4:03] You know, I could have done everything I could to get that right, to apply what I taught, and just ultimately ask questions in the moment.
Beyond the sections themselves, I probably could have practiced more in the early days, in the odd moments in my spare time.
I could have read articles. I could have watched videos of things I didn't quite understand.
I could have played things in my head and sort of experimented with that and done the whole visualization thing, where you practice skills in your head when you may not be able able to do it physically but you can practice in your head which makes a genuine difference and in all honesty if I'd taken action on these things early during the training process instead of just ignoring it it would have made all the difference for me in hindsight now that's my story and that's the inspiration in regards to kind of what came from this training process but this same same thing happens all the time with hikers I hear stories from people who are not training with us and even people who are training with us specifically now what typically happens this This can happen either in hiking or training.
So let's sort of say talking training specifically, like the workouts you're doing off the trail.
You know, there's hikers out there, they realize, you know, they don't like certain exercises.
They do them and they're like, oh, you know, this feels a bit tough.
They skip them or they just do them half-heartedly. And even, you know, as the weeks go by, um.
[5:15] They just ignore it. But usually, ultimately, when it comes down to it, if you don't like something or something feels hard, it probably needs that area and needs particular work.
So, a classic example of this was a conversation I was having with one of my hikers a couple of weeks ago, maybe a couple of months ago now, who'd been training with us for a number of months. She'd come to us with a bit of knee pain.
[5:36] And one of the big things was like, hey, I wanted to get on top of this knee pain so I can get out of my adventure and be really good.
It and ultimately went through a big program we covered all the bases we did our strength training we were cardio um we did our mobility we did our hiking you know in the initial assessments we went through with her we identified look one of the big things that are kind of like lagging behind the others is is your quadriceps strength we were like look that kind of needs a little bit of work and the quadriceps are the muscles in the front of the thigh um which ultimately is a big supporter of the knee and we were like look if we can improve this we can get this a bit stronger and get this this up, it's probably going to be really helpful for the knees.
[6:11] And we did have a few different exercises in the process to help with this, and a number, and we did a lot of things.
But one specific example of this that came up was we were doing squats.
So simple squats. Everyone's done squats. Everyone knows what I'm kind of talking about.
And in the process, way back when we first started together, we started doing body weight.
And then slowly, we started adding a little bit of load. We added some dumbbells, and we did a few different variations.
And week by week and month by month we made them a little bit harder so she was in the plan was to make them harder get her stronger keep on stressing those quads and keep on getting them stronger and as i said we were doing other exercises work this area but this is one particular example now a few months later um we're going through the process and we're having a bit of a conversation um and it came to light that you know she was saying look my legs certain struggle in certain sections on the trail and kind of some of the the higher steps or some of the deeper step offs um and i was kind of of struggling a little bit.
And we were chatting about her training and she said she'd never really particularly liked the squats she'd been doing.
She did them, but she didn't really like them. They felt hard.
And because specifically when we dug into it, she was like, it got really, really hard as she was getting low in a squat.
Half Squats: A Comfortable but Limited Approach
[7:21] She just sort of naturally decided, look, I'm not going to go that low because it's really, really hard. It's uncomfortable.
Not painful, but just uncomfortable. So she just naturally started doing half squats.
So she only went about half the way. And over the months, that was really all she was doing.
So we were progressing things. We were making things a little bit more difficult, but the range of motion was only about half of what we kind of wanted.
And ultimately, you know, over the months, like that sort of limited the strength, which we didn't really identify very early, but we got there in the end.
And we're like, look, if we can just get it a little bit deeper, you can work through that little bit of range of motion, which is uncomfortable, which you don't particularly enjoy.
But if we can get that stronger, it's probably going to make a big, big, big difference on the trails.
Ignoring Weaknesses: Lessons Learned
[8:02] This falls into the lesson. In the early days, she very much realized she didn't like going all the way down, not because it was painful, but just because it was hard.
The reason wasn't because it was hard, because she needed strengthening.
That was an area that needed work.
Over the months, this had been ignored, and a particular area had never really improved, which was a bummer, but we identified, and she's working on it, and she should get on top of it relatively quickly now.
That was an example of something that, not saying she sucked at it, that was my words for my situation, but something that wasn't as good as it could be, and it got ignored.
Avoiding Uncomfortable Challenges Leads to Missed Opportunities
[8:32] Another example of this is mobility. You know, some people are stiff as a board.
They are so, so, so, so tight. They know they're tight. They know they're stiff.
They know they can barely tip over or whatever it may be.
And they'll have stretching or mobility in their program. Like that'll be asked specifically, do this every single week or do this at the start of every single session or whatever it may be.
But it just feels a bit tough. It feels a bit uncomfortable.
They don't particularly know it, so they just ignore it they don't do it and the issue just compounds on itself or in the hiking context you know specifically on the trail some people and a lot of people know that they really struggle on certain sections of the trail might be rock hopping or river crossings or really steep descents or something like that maybe they've had one or two bad experiences in the past they've been on a big hike and they've gotten in that situation they're like oh this sucked or they did a big day hike and they had a lot of rock hopping i was like that is terrible um.
[9:23] And then they've decided they're just going to avoid this. They never do any hikes which have these types of things.
They make sure they read the track notes and they make sure they avoid these things. And that's all well and good.
Overcoming Weaknesses: Take Action and Make Progress
[9:32] But then they may go on a hike which unexpectedly has these.
It unexpectedly has a bunch of rock hopping. It unexpectedly has a couple of river crossings, whatever it may be.
And because of these things that they've been ignored for so long and they've never been able to train and practice this in a more controlled environment, in their easier training hikes, whatever it may be, it ends up being an ordeal. you.
And there are countless examples. I could go for hours and hours and hours and hours and hours about this, but the lesson stands.
Don't avoid what you suck at. Don't avoid what's uncomfortable.
Don't avoid what you struggle with.
I'm not saying push through pain when I say uncomfortable. If you're doing exercises and it's genuinely painful, you want to be taking another approach.
But if something just feels hard, it's a bit tougher than usual, or you realize you're not not very good at it, definitely don't want to avoid.
So my advice from here is really sit down, block out 10 minutes, 15 minutes, sometime this week, sit down pen and paper and just jot down all the things that you suck at or you struggle with or whatever may be.
[10:33] Exercises, workouts, sections on the trail, just jot it all down and then ask yourself, really be honest, are you avoiding these things in your training, in your training sessions, in your workouts, in your you're training hikes, whatever it may be.
If the answer is yes to any of those things, then it may be time to reconsider this.
Think about how you can start practicing and developing this certain thing in a way that's comfortable for you, that's doable for you to kind of move you forward.
[11:00] Really have a think about it, because if you can identify these things, and work on it and move it forward, even if it never turns into a strong suit of you, any tiny improvements is going to go a long long long long way and never think it's too late to start never think it's oh you know it's too long now whatever may be this stuff for your hiking specifically it just can make such a difference in so many situations so sit down jot down what you avoid what you struggle with ask yourself that question am i avoiding this if there's anything in yes think about it how you can improve that practice it and inch that needle forward and move that forward tiny bit. It'll make a massive difference for you.
Even for me, in my particular example, I started way later than I probably should have, but it got me way further than I would have been if I completely ignored it.
So it's never too late. Take action on this and it will really serve you well.
So I hope that all makes sense. I hope that it gives some insight and I hope that's a little bit of a prompt for a few people to really get into things and kind of start working on those weaknesses or whatever may be.
So thanks so much for listening. I hope you've enjoyed it and we'll talk to you very, very soon. Bye.
Rowan is a personal trainer who specialises in training for hiking, trekkers and mountaineers for their bucket list adventures.
Summit Strength is a personal training for hiking service created specifically to help hikers have the best chance of a safe, enjoyable and successful adventure.