One of my toughest challenges has been completing The Marathon des Sables, a 250km (155 miles) self sufficient multi stage race through the Saharan Desert. Running for 7 days through Southern Morocco with minimal food, water, and no luxuries of home, it’s no surprise I had quite a few people ask me, “Why did you do this crazy race?”

I’ve spent many hours thinking of my answers. I understand it’s not a normal thing to do, for either your mind or body, but something intrigued me about this race. The one thing which kept returning to my thoughts was that I wanted to test myself both physically and mentally to a degree in which I’ve never been tested before. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone.

The Collins English Dictionary describes a comfort zone as “a situation or position in which a person feels secure, comfortable, or in control.” Too many of us sit back and just think about that certain something we’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t attempted it because we’ve  been a little too scared, apprehensive, or even logical to give it a try. These things in which we believe are out of our reach or unattainable, are not, we have simply convinced ourselves that we cannot do such a thing.

The body and mind are both very adaptive but guarding at the same time, its getting through that initial precautionary guarding in which the real hurdle lies, once we get through this our minds and bodies will adapt to our new situations and help us through them, just like I got through my 250 kms in the Sahara Desert, you can overcome the challenges you set yourself too.

Getting out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to be as extreme as spending a week running in the desert, nor does it have to be a physical challenge either. It could be anything from trying a new profession, travelling alone, or simply cooking a different meal in the kitchen. Whatever the outcome is, you will learn from your experiences and surprise yourself just how much you can actually achieve at something you have never done before.

So to answer the question, “Why did I compete in the 2012 Marathon des Sables?”

I did it because I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and see just how far I could push my mind and body, and to inspire others to do the same in some aspect of their lives.

Once you have broken through the barriers of your comfort zone, you will feel like anything is possible to attain.

Next time you are faced with a challenge, instead of letting the challenge overcome you, be strong, be tough, don’t back down, and know that once you take that initial step, everything will be ok, and the skies the limit!

This is how you get out of your comfort zone.