contributed by Shane Borza, MHR & ICF Certified Coach

Are you aware of your awareness? You may be well served to raise your awareness, in fact, ask yourself – right now – “Where’s my awareness right now?”

What are you focused on, or preoccupied with? Pay attention to your posture, not just when you’re training, but all the time. A simple, life changing lesson occurred when a coach friend pointed out that people train about 1hr a day, 5 days a week – but that’s only 5hrs a week total. There are 168hrs in a week – that leaves another 163 hours to focus on how things affect you.

After a meal, assess how it made you feel. Are you energized or sluggish, do you feel full and satisfied, or are you bloated and gross? Let this help you decide whether to eat that again or not, instead of basing it on habit, emotion, or price. Same goes for exercise and everything else.

TIP: If it’s not making you stronger, it’s making you weaker.

Awareness extends out from you and into the world. Sounds a little hippie but it’s true. If you can cultivate the ability to be aware of yourself and how you react to things, you can then expand this to things around you. This can be an invaluable skill to cultivate, especially for mountain athletes and outdoor enthusiasts.

What is the weather doing, the temperature, the clouds, the light? If you’re off grid and have no signal, and therefore no new info, this awareness may save your life by clueing you into to an approaching storm, avalanche, or other natural shitshow about to dump itself on your head.

When climbing, instead of simply hanging out at the belay, ensure you are aware of, not only how your partner is doing as she runs it out at the top of the pitch, but also her system and what protection she has in. Should you worry and watch her like a hawk? Or is it fine and she’ll take a big -but safe- fall?

Below are a few questions to ask yourself. With practice, they will fade into the background, as you continuously scan for any issues as they arise:

  • Physically – How am I feeling? Am I hot or cold, hungry or thirsty, tired or sore, hurt or injured? Are there any hot points in my shoes, against my pack, etc? If I adjusted anything right now, would it be better than just keeping going?
  • Emotionally – Am I enjoying this? Would I enjoy myself more if I started or stopped doing something? How quiet or loud am I being? Has my attitude changed significantly?
  • Mentally – What’s my inner dialogue telling me? Have I even noticed? Am I calm and feel prepared, or am I stressed and running checklists because I’m concerned about something?
  • Partner – Scan your partner for the above. Better yet, talk to each other so things don’t creep up on you that may affect the day, or entire trek.

This series of blogs is from my upcoming book Total Mountain Fitness. You can sign up to receive the FREE ebook here.