What Survivor, marathons, and weightlifting have in common

Rachel Flanagan Uncategorized


On Saturday, I burrowed into my couch to watch the season finale and reunion special of Survivor. Yes, I still watch it. No, I am not afraid to admit it. It’s one of the few shows I actually watch these days, along with Top Chef and Drunk History. (Please tell me you’ve watched Drunk History. SO FUNNY.)

During the Survivor “reunion special,” where all the players come back to rehash the season with Jeff Probst and joke about all the dumb mistakes they made while they were out there, there was one line that someone said that struck me, and has stayed with me for a couple of days.

“There aren’t too many ways to really test yourself in life and see what you can accomplish. That’s why I applied for Survivor.”  

Oh Zeke, Zeke, Zeke. I could have saved you the 39 days of starvation, bug bites, and social anxiety if we had met before your fateful trip to Fiji.

Want to test yourself? Pick a goal that scares you a little bit, commit to it, plan for it, and go for it.

I’ve done it a handful of times in my life, and loved the thrill every time. Rugby. Marathon training. Heavy weight lifting. Marrying PJ. (Just kidding. He’s a good guy.)

The first big goal I took on after I stopped playing rugby was the Marine Corps Marathon. After three knee surgeries in my 20’s, I never thought I could run a full marathon. I was even told I wouldn’t be able to by an arrogant trainer. (Read that story here.) But I found a good and reasonable training plan, put in the miles, and did it, even through the dog days of my first full North Carolina summer.

I tested myself, and found out that I could, in fact, run a full marathon. I then went on to run two more–one right in the throes of my first Crohn’s flare–but finished them both. After each one, I thought, HA! I DID IT.

Then I started weight lifting more seriously. My new goal was to deadlift my body weight. When I started, it felt like a lofty goal. But you know what? I got there. And man, that felt GOOD.

And then came the chin ups. EVEN BETTER.

I tested myself out on the road and in the gym over and over, and found out what I can do if I train smart. And I have lots more goals, so I’m going to keep testing myself.

So please, in 2017, don’t apply for Survivor thinking that’s the only way you can test yourself. Save yourself the 39 days away from your family and pick something you can do at home.

Going for your first marathon or chin up in 2017 and need some tips? Send me a note and I’ll send you some tips. I have your back.

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