Kaz Williams

Is the rain due to stop soon?

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Ouray 100 race: A celebration of uncertainty

It’s midnight and raining. I’m at mile 70 in a 100 mile mountain race in Ouray, Colorado and ahead of me is a mountain to climb. That’s when the thunder and lightning started. As I left the aid station, I heard another runner ask a volunteer,

“Is the rain due to stop soon?”

“Sure, yeah, in an hour or so”.

Heavy rain is defined as between 4-8 mm of water per hour. Very heavy rain is classed as over 8 mm of water per hour. This rain was off the chart and it didn’t stop…for hours. I was wet and cold. And as I stood in front of the mountain I whispered,

“Guess it’s game on”.

Welcome to the blog

You are unlimited.

Hi, I’m Kaz. This blog is about performance psychology and our ability to train our mind. It will explore the power of focus, being effective and finding happiness in sport and life.

Psychology and human behaviour have always fascinated me, particularly in sport and endurance adventures. I have learned that we can all benefit from mental training, whether it’s to build confidence, get motivated, overcome a problem or enhance our performance.

I love to run. Running has been a constant in my life and worn many shoes – wild coastal runs with my Dad; 10K city runs as a boozy, overweight student; training to become a soldier; qualifying as an Army Physical Training Instructor; and moving to Chamonix, France where the mountains stole my heart.

This quote, by Dwayne Johnson, connected with me on my flight to Colorado. When asked how he prepared to enter the ring and perform as The Rock, he said,

“I’m the same guy, just with the volume turned up”.

This became my race strategy for Ouray 100. To finish this incredible race, I needed to be mentally and physically strong, yet ready to adapt when thrown a curve ball. I told myself,

“I need to turn up the volume.”

It was about staying as present as possible, and reminding myself that everything comes to an end. That I would reach the summit whether it took 2 or 5 hours; I would get to the next aid station – that feeling, right?!; the rain would eventually stop; and the 14 mountain peaks I had to climb, would all too soon be in the past.

I have studied our power to perform to the very best of our ability when in stressful situations or when faced with adversity. What is it about our fears, courage, resilience and mindset that drives us to succeed…or sabotages us?

When lightning was striking around me at 3500 m and the rain was relentless, leaving the aid station into that storm, took some serious grit. I knew, even in the moment, that this was a test. It was a test to find out just how much courage, determination and fight I had in me to become an Ouray 100 finisher.

To sum up, I would like to share with you the lessons I learned from my time in the San Juan mountains, because at their essence, I believe they are also life lessons.

  1. Never give up on yourself.
  2. Keep on keeping on.
  3. No matter how challenging the situation, remember everything comes to an end.
  4. Be prepared and be ready to adapt.
  5. Learn to let go and give yourself over to the experience.
  6. Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

How about you? When have you decided to turn up the volume to perform?

Thank you for reading.