Limits are for Breaking — How to go Beyond What You Think You Can Do

Tips on How to Conquer Any Challenge

Photo: Cami Rosso

How often have you heard the saying, “Your limits are what you think they are?” Recently I was on my way to triathlon training when I thought, “I wonder if I can go an Olympic distance during my training?” I didn’t know the answer to that question, but I was curious to explore and test my limits. For the first time ever in my entire life I was able to bash through my preconceived physical, emotional and mental barriers by swimming 1000 meters, cycling 30 km uphill and then running 10 km. My body was basically in motion for hours, and I still can’t believe I did it.

Here’s how to go beyond what you think you can do:

Approach Seemingly Impossible Goals with an Open Mind

If you want to go beyond your limits, approach any big goal with an open mind and be curious. Do not look to past performance milestones as an indicator of future capabilities. Think and act like an explorer.

Deploy the U.S. Navy SEAL’s “40 percent rule”

When you think you are at your breaking point, that’s the time to deploy the Navy SEAL’s “40 percent rule.” Jesse Itzler, NBA’s Atlanta Hawk’s owner, co-founder of Marquis Jet, and former rapper, invited a Navy SEAL to live with his family for a month. Jesse learned from the Navy SEAL that “when the mind is telling you you’re done, you’re really only 40 percent done.”

Break Big Goals into Small Steps

Frame big, hairy, audacious goals into baby steps, and never give up. When you want to stop, tell yourself, “Try one more baby step.” For example, during the swim, focus on each stroke at a time rather than the full distance. When running, focus on putting one foot in front of the other and just keep going.

Pull, not Push, Yourself to Success

It takes enormous strength, perseverance and passion to maintain momentum in endurance competitions. The smart way to stay motivated is to use a “pull” versus “push” mindset as you will exert less mental and emotional energy in the process. Rather than “pushing yourself” to achieve, align your goal with what you find meaningful and inspiring to fuel your desire to go beyond what you think your limits are. When the going gets tough, redirect your thoughts. Visualize what you find inspiring.

Prior to that breakout training, I have never achieved anything close to that length in training or racing in four half marathons, the Spartan Race, or my inaugural triathlon… the longest duration was around two and a half hours. I learned that it’s true. Your limits are what you think they are… and they are meant to be broken!

Copyright © 2016 Cami Rosso All rights reserved.

Originally published at on April 29, 2016.