Summitting Mt. Kilimanjaro will require not only good aerobic condition, but also a certain mind set. We have been told that on some days we will merely be putting one foot in front of the other and our determination to move forward will need to come to the forefront. Our desire to summit must be as strong as our bodies.
Running long distance requires the same effort, physical preparation as well as mental fortitude. When I ran half marathons, I knew how important thought persistence was, as the minute I would think "walking sounds great," my steps would slow.
But, today I am tired, and I'm wondering how to balance my desire to succeed with the wisdom of moderation.
My workout schedule last week: Saturday - hike in the snow at high altitude; Monday - a long walk; Tuesday - stairmaster, squats and weight lifting; Wednesday - a longer walk; Thursday - two long walks; Friday (today) - another long walk and weight lifting. Last Sunday I would normally have bicycled but I was out of town.
When my daughter and I went for our travel vaccinations, the doctor cautioned about the need to listen to our bodies when we hike Mt. Kilimanjaro. "The climb will be easier for you," he told my daughter, "because you are young. I'm counting on you to tell your mother to stop when it looks like she needs to." My daughter and I laughed.
But climbing at high altitude is serious, and could have deadly consequences. I need to commit not only to the notion of summitting, but also the belief that I did not fail if I physically cannot reach the top. A woman I know came within 400 feet of summitting Mt. Kilimanjaro and literally could not move another step. The guides gently turned her around and led her back to base camp.
When a friend and I walk together, we always have to touch something at our end point so we can turn around - a bench, a rock, a light post. I might not be able to touch the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Now would be a good time for me to start listening to that voice of moderation, as my turning point on the hike might be sooner than I imagine.