Mind over Matter

There are too many times in life, whether its training or competing in a sport that individuals give up when going gets tough, refusing to dig in and use the power of the mind to overcome fatigue.

Here’s a guest post from my friend Jason Gor of Raise the Bar Fitness in San Francisco writing about his experience at the San Francisco Fight for Air Climb. Jason is a former wrestler and for those who aren’t aware wrestlers are some of the most bad ass athletes out there. Here’s his take on what its like to climb 52 flights of stairs.

Enjoy!

I recently was part of the San Francisco Fight for Air Stair Climb, benefiting the American Lung Association.  I was able to raise over $400 for the cause and the entire event raised over $350,000.  The event took place at the Bank of America Building.  It’s the 2nd tallest building in San Francisco, consisting of 52 flights of stairs.

One drawback about the event I knew in advanced was that I was going down to San Diego on vacation the week before the event and wouldn’t return until the very night before.  I normally would like to train all the way up to the event but being an athlete my entire life I was pretty confident I would be able to climb the stairs without much trouble.  I work out at least 4x time a week and my cardio has always been pretty decent.  6 flights into the climb I knew that I was in trouble.  Though I lift weights and run consistently, climbing stairs is a whole different ballgame.  My legs were literally on fire and I could already feel my lower back tightening up from fatigue.  I had 46 flights left and there was no turning back.  With the stairwell being completely fireproof, the air was extremely stale.  I’ve already begun to work up a decent sweat and my mouth was a little dry.  People that started after me were beginning to either pass or gain ground on me so I knew I had to find the will to continue.

As I climbed from 1 flight to another I had to dig really deep down for inspiration.  There were words of inspiration at many turns urging us to keep on.  One sign would read, “only 600 steps left” or “you’re halfway there”.  These words were somewhat helpful but I couldn’t help but think about how tired I was. I began to think about my wrestling days when I would literally have to finish a wrestling match without any energy left.  Wrestling matches are considered by many 6 minutes of hell.  This stair climb was nothing in comparison to what I did when I was wrestling.  The main difference however was winning a wrestling match was more important to me than climbing the stairs and getting to the top.  I found myself focusing on my fatigue and the actual stairs instead of why I was really there.  I began to think about how this charity event was benefiting thousands and that many people do “fight for air” and how I should be grateful that I am healthy enough to even consider doing this Stair Climb challenge. It sounds very cliché but I began to take each remaining flight of stairs, one at a time.  I thought about the thousands of others that were joining me in this “fight for air” and honestly my competitive side took over.  Not only was this stair climb about helping out a great cause it was now about my self-pride.  I wasn’t going to let these stairs get the best of me.

I now began to focus on my form.  I had to remember what my Group Leader and training partner Ann Grimaldi had taught me which was to lean forward slightly from the hips with the back straight. At no time, should you be rounded in the lower back area. Look forward, keeping your eye on the stairs from time to time without looking down with a bent head the whole time. Avoid over-straightening your knees as you climb up. Place your whole foot on the step. Avoid climbing with your heels hanging off the edge because you can injure your Achilles tendon, which connects your calf to your heel. I was now on the 51st floor and I honestly probably could have easily gone another 15 flights with no major problem.

It’s truly amazing what our human body can do once we put our mind to it.  The majority of this event was completed on pure heart and desire because my legs were gone.  I hope this inspires many others to not only get involved in a great cause, but to also search for what inspires you.  Think about why you are training or working out.  Whether it’s to look better on vacation or for health reasons.  Find that inspiration and focus on your goals to train harder and “get it done”.

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