5 tips for digging deep when you want to quit

hiking while exhausted

It happens to the best of us: Your legs go rubbery, your breathing speeds up and your feet feel as if they’re encased in cement.

You’ve hit the wall, my friend. And now, you’ve got two choices: give up like a chump and abandon your hike or somehow find that extra little burst of energy to press on.

When every cell in your body is screaming to stop, try following these five tips for digging deep and continuing that trek when you  want to quit.

Think of the big payoff

Remember: this stuff builds character. So as you’re fighting your way up an ultra-steep trail, stay focused on the reward that brutal hike will bring. Think of the feeling of satisfaction you’ll get or maybe focus on all the fun you’ll have bragging about your triumph. Whatever works for you.

Or set your sights on more immediate benefits. Imagine relaxing by the campfire or taking a shower after the trek is complete.

Get a little emotional

hike angry

You can use emotions, like anger, to help give you a burst of energy on the trail.

Press on against fatigue by getting yourself worked up emotionally – it’s a technique that’s been used successfully by many long-distance runners. Anger is typically seen as providing the ultimate endurance push. Get pissed off. Hate that damned trail. And hike like you’re mad at the ground.

But if you’re more of the mellow type, you can try using fear or even joy as motivation. Picture a bear on your tail or get really excited about the big payoff once your hike is over (as touched on above).

Give yourself a pep talk

Like that boot camp coach who just doesn’t shut up, you’ve gotta keep telling yourself to push beyond your comfort zone. Think: “Just 10 more minutes and I can have a water break” or “I’m not really tired, I just think I am.”

Some runners and trekkers use a motivational mantra that they repeat over and over in their head. Yeah, it’s kinda cheesy. But if it works for you, who cares.

Focus on milestones

Dwell on the 20 gruelling kilometres you still have to hike that day and your legs will start to quiver. Instead, try to think of the trek as broken up into multiple sections. Focus on reaching each milestone along the way – such as a viewpoint or break spot – rather than dreading the massive journey in its entirety.

This will allow you to savor tiny victories along the way, which will boost your spirits and keep you moving at a decent pace.

Go to another place

Not literally, of course. But when you’re starting to fade, try to think of something completely unrelated to the trek. The trick is to pick a topic that’s intriguing or emotionally involving enough to provide an ultimate distraction.

If you pick the right stuff to daydream about, the trek will fly by. Just make sure you’re still aware of your surroundings when hiking in treacherous terrain.

Got any tips for digging deep when you feel exhausted? Share them below.


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About the author

Dustin Walker

Dustin Walker is a journalist, travel copywriter and editor/owner of Slick and Twisted Trails. Follow him on Twitter @dustinjaywalker

Shon - June 22, 2013

6. put on Ipod – go to metallica – master of puppets – volume max – engage.

you have been to some excellent places.

    Dustin Walker - June 25, 2013

    Good point Shon — music is a major motivator. But for me, it’s Queens of the Stone Age.

willow - April 21, 2013

Tackle each uphill with a slow and steady pace. Allow every flat section to be a small triumph, through which you celebrate by picking up your pace slightly. Relish the relative ease of walking something flat as opposed to how you felt humping that last incline. On the downhill, focus on the effect gravity has on changing up the muscle groups you use to ambulate. Know all the while that this too will change on the next uphill. Watching your body from a ‘witness’ place provides you with an entertaining movie of sorts while you hike.

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