Early in the year, when I made the decision to climb Mount Rwenzori, I wrote to a friend of mine who had climbed the mountain in last year and asked him what I needed to do to prepare for the climb. One thing he made very clear was that I would have to get physically fit for the climb, and he described to me a few of the things that would have to become routine for me, in order to help me prepare adequately. One of them was to ensure to work on my climbing muscles – meaning I would have to do lots of exercises to get my legs strong enough to take on the challenge.
Previous to this advice, I have been doing mostly cardiovascular exercise, in the form of dance fitness class. I decided to add to this regimen some strength training, and the long walks that my friends and I do every two weeks. On some occasions, in trying to vary the kind of exercise I did, it meant doing exercise twice a day – once in the morning and then again in the evening – about three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, then I would rest on Tuesday and do the Rwenzori Boot Camp on Thursday. I did this for about two months until I burnt out. I was literally getting tired of exercise, and so, in order not to give up altogether, because I knew with the burn out I was feeling, giving up was a possibility, I decided to pace myself and instead do exercise at least once every day of the week, with some rest days. I find that this has worked better for me and I am glad I pushed passed the burn out phase.
But still, every once in a while, I have days when I do exercise twice a day. Yesterday was one of those days. I did dance fitness class in the morning, and I did spin class in the evening. Usually, by the end of the day, I have the fatigue from working all day, so on some days, getting through a second exercise class in the evening is not the easiest thing at all.
That’s how I felt yesterday. I had decided to do spin class in the evening, but when it got to 4 p.m. I started looking for an excuse to chicken out of doing the exercise. What saved me was that one of my climbing friends called to ask what time the spin class was, and because he hasn’t come to spin class for a while, I decided I would do the class with him, so as to encourage him to start coming on a regular basis. His call came just at the right time.
Spin class was hard, we did a lot of high intensity work on the bike, but by the end of the class, I was glad that I made it. Later on in the evening, I reflected on one of the major lessons that I have learned through the journey of preparation for the mountain climb, and that lesson is commitment. I have learned to press on even when I feel I can’t go on. I have learned to stick with my goal no matter what. I have learned to chart the course and stay the course. I have learned to talk myself through any discouragement I feel. I have learned that commitment is a daily decision and that on many occasions, I have to recommit to my commitment. I have learned that even when I fall off my commitment cycle, I need to get up, dust myself off, forgive myself, and get right back on.
I am glad for the lesson in stick-to-it-ness. And I pray that I translate this lesson to every facet of my life.