The Goodwater135: My Mind’s Trip While Running Through Death Valley

By Samantha Pruitt @thesamanthapruitt @endurancetownusa

Wanna trip out? Do something BIG & WILD that has you dancing on the edge of your comfort zone. But big goals and comfort crushing experiences need to be personal. After all, our purpose is personal. Our WHY is personal. Living, working, or dreaming for others is not only unfulfilling but honestly, it’s never really gonna work out well for anyone involved. It’s hallowed work and outside of you, rather than coming from deep inside- where your life FIRE is stoked. Additionally, if you are not grounded in your purpose or WHY each day, then you will be filled with anxious untethered energy. You will be overcome by storms, like a weathered sailboat just going anywhere the wind wildly whips you! BTW if you have not read my blog just one chapter back… please do so in order to understand why I was even doing The Goodwater135 Death Valley run plus the who, how, and when (HERE)Now I want to share the Emotional Fitness that I gained (my mind & heart’s growth) during my solo 135 mile run through Death Valley.

You see, for me, this big challenge was a ‘self-efficacy’ test from start to finish. Self-efficacy affects every area of human endeavor and due to the pandemic pause with life being flipped upside down and us humans uprooted, I knew I needed a self-imposed test. Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in his or her capacity to execute behaviors necessary to produce specific performance attainments (Bandura, 1977, 1986, 1997). Self-efficacy reflects confidence in the ability to exert control over one’s own motivation, behavior, and social environment. My deep desire and willingness to take on a very personal physical, mental and spiritual exploration seemed perfectly timed, right? Why wait around to see what the news of the day is or stand by to hear the latest rules and regs for living or even stall another moment longer to feel ‘better’ about our future in America? I felt compelled to act now and exert control once again over my own motivation, behavior, and social environment!

Yes- my Goodwater135 challenged raised money for the non-profit Peace Academy of SLO to help expand their youth leadership programs and true- I was very open about sharing my experience with the world in order to show that a 51-year-old woman excouch potato still has game:) But as a personal quest… my goal was to use the natural desert extremes and running solitude to peel back more layers within myself. I was hungry to gain a deeper understanding and clarity about me, myself and I. Below are what I learned about myself. The thoughts, emotions, and lessons I taught little ole me across all those miles.

1. It’s never too late for a comeback!

I am a 51 yr old woman. I have used, abused, and disregarded my body for many years and only found endurance sports & outdoor adventure after 30. I have made many comebacks in life and will continue to do so until I die. This time, as I bit off the Goodwater135 challenge in July, I had not done any long-distance training or ultra run in a year and a half. YIKES! I was truly worried I could not get back my groove, that injuries would plague me or even worse… that my love of running was gone forever. WRONG! #samgothergrooveback In training July thru October I was constantly reminded (by my own body and mind) that if I just show up and simply deliver the best I have at that moment I will succeed, no matter the outcome.

2. Suffering is temporary.

No, really. Countless times on my health and fitness journey I have been miserable. Truly- ouch, oh that hurts, OH CRAP I am gonna puke or poop and on the ground yelling NOOOOOOOOOO make it STOP! But somehow, some way I survived to tell about it. Then running through Death Valley I had a few times where the wheels fell of the bus. My body was in pain, my mind was letting my evil twin lead the way and my heart was simply taking a nap. During those moments I had to stop and sit down in order to give myself a talking to. With love, compassion, and a relentless belief in my own uncharted potential I coached myself thru the suffering and back onto the course. Suffering is temporary but regret is forever.

 3. The world really does want me and you to succeed.

During life, never mind this crazy forced isolation time, we often feel abandoned or alone. Though circumstances may create what appears to be that aloneness, we are never really out of touch from another human. From cell phones, computers, and our individual communities being so close at hand we can always make a little effort and connect. When I put my Goodwater135 challenge out publicly this Summer I received nothing but support from those I love. Then my extended community online and in the endurance and outdoor adventure space jumped onboard to rally my efforts with encouragement. Finally just prior to, as well as all during, my 135-mile run I was showered with hundreds of texts, calls, emails, and social posts from humans all over wishing me well and cheering me onward. It was powerful and during those dark moments allowed me to feel strength and love from others as a push forward. 

4. Solitude in nature is better than any medicine, fix, or therapy.

Connecting with nature brings out MY true nature. This was not always the case for me, but now after 20 years of endurance and outdoor experiences of all types, I can not revert back thankfully. However, during hard times it is harder than ever to motivate into motion this aging body. But what I relearned was that just being outside and being in self-propelled motion forced my stress and depression about the world to fade.

Being alone to process my thoughts and emotions in a natural environment was like medicine for my body, mind, and spirit.

Sweat therapy is free!

5. There’s more joy in living within the moment and going with the flow than just sticking to the plan.

Of course, I had a plan for my 135-mile run and in fact, I love the planning and strategy aspect of taking on an event or race. But as an athlete and a coach both, I have seen or felt it go terrible wrong many times. I used to get frustrated and strive to right the train back onto the tracks.

Now, however, and several times while running through Death Valley, I had to give up my plan and simply go with the flow of the moment. Learning yet again that we really can not control all the moving parts and pieces. That if we are truly present in the now then things can actually be far more wonderful than we ever imagined.

There is freedom and joy just waiting in the flow.    

6. A loving relationship with the self must come first before we can invest in loving another.

A real-life partner is your partner when it’s completely awful not just when it’s happy hour. So, my hubby, Dave was my willing crew for this crazy run and had a general idea of what to expect. He ended up being perfect; laid back, keep it simple, follow my instructions, and just be there in case of trouble. I knew I needed his support to succeed and was very grateful. The other person I needed in order to succeed was ME. I realized more than ever before that it required self-love, compassion, and trust of myself in order to accomplish this feat. I discovered through those hundreds of hours alone training and then crossing the desert that each of those moments was truly acts of unconditional love towards myself. I flexed my self-efficacy muscles:) I guess you could say that by me investing deeply into myself once again, it re-opened my heart bigger than ever for doing the purposeful work to support humanity once again.      

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