The Power of Pushing Limits

Aug 29, 2011
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In the past two weeks I’ve had the privilege of observing some of the most elite, well-respected athletes on the planet. I did so for the sake of sport and athleticism, as well as to hope for a single glimpse or sweat droplet that would lead me closer to understanding the likes of these select few. From ultra-marathoners to professional cyclists, it is clear to see that none of them made it very far without breaking some boundaries and pushing their bodies and brains to the most unheard of levels.

My intrigue with this notion stems from my own personal, whispered desires of being that skilled, that determined, that unforgiving, that confident, and even that crazy. I focused on finite details of movement and form of the runners as they finished their 100-mile races. In slow motion, I recorded useful soon-to-be memories of the runners smiling at their wives, or asking for water from their mothers, or even pulling out the home video camera from thin air and beginning a less than impromptu victory speech for a crowd of one.

Attempting to slow those scenes down even further, I tried desperately to record the emotions beaming from these athletes as well. Whether starting or finishing a race, it was unfathomable to me the amount of poise and consideration each of these athletes held for themselves. I could only wish to be so graceful and self-assured at any moment of my life, let alone that perfect instance of where it mattered most.

For my whole life, I have been pushing limits of sorts—through rising above a horrid car accident, to finding serenity in a life from a wheelchair. However, there has always been a certain piece—the one to the puzzle that was solely painted in the likeness of sky and looked like at least fifty others pieces—that I have had trouble with. That piece seems like so many others, but it is unique in ways that you may not understand without a lot of hard work and even more mistakes in trying.

With that said, the athletes that push themselves the most are (to me) the ones that have swallowed hard and gone beyond muscle and beyond exhaustion, and even beyond the infamous “zone”. These are athletes that pulled straight from their hearts to find the will to run, and bike, and swim, and play better than anyone could actually dream—themselves included.

So, I now challenge myself and whoever is also prepared for this moment of lost mind and found heart. Put down the self-help and how-to-do manuals and look inside of your own heart. Push yourself beyond your own courage and fears, because that is the only way of discovering what you are truly made of.

Author: Ryan McLean