A couple of years back, I walked from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail. At the time, I became the fastest woman to do this without a support team—and I did it completely solo.
The 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail cover the highest mountains on the East Coast. I hiked through fields of boulders, forded powerful rivers, and chased away a dozen snakes.
I kept walking and walking, even at night in the rain. In total, I climbed almost half a million feet of elevation—equivalent to hiking Mount Everest from sea level 16 times.
To maintain my record-breaking pace, I knew I would have to stay motivated, upbeat, and levelheaded through months of walking mostly alone. I developed a strategy for keeping my heart in the game and having fun every day. It helped me quiet the doubting voices in my head asking questions like, Are you strong enough to actually do this? and Why are you pushing so hard when others aren’t even awake yet? And, more troubling, the one that told me, You don’t deserve to achieve this.
Since my Appalachian Trail journey, I’ve gone on to many other hikes that are longer, faster, and more technical. But I've found the strategy I developed on the AT continues to apply to my life, outdoors and in.
Here are the lessons that helped me stay mentally and physically strong over the course of 2,181 miles and two and a half months in the woods: