Ultimate Hell Week
on May 24, 2019 • Grace
To say I have mixed feelings about my time on Ultimate Hell Week would be an understatement.My experience was something that I simultaneously enjoyed, found difficult, learned a lot from and at times found extremely painful– both emotionally and physically.
One thing I am sure of, however, is that it is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. It forced me to push myself mentally and physically further than I’ve ever gone before, challenged me in ways I wasn’t expecting, and taught me things about myself that I never knew.
Before I went on the show, I tried to keep an extremely open mind about what the experience would be like. I had some idea about what it would entail, but in general I tried to go into it with as few expectations as possible. I thought it would be the hardest thing I would ever do, and this definitely turned out to be the case!
Some things, however, I didn’t predict. I never imagined I would be pushed out the side of a lorry, into a freezing cold canal! I also had no idea how I would actually react to the interrogations, though I knew they would be a part of the show. The same was true for the dehydration, hunger and sleep deprivation.
Another thing which really caught me off guard was how close I became to some of my teammates. Going through Hell Week together was something that bonded us in a way that really surprised me, in a positive way. The importance of being a team player was really highlighted for me throughout the whole experience. I was also pleasantly surprised by the amount of craic we managed to have together (out of the sights of the Drill Sergeants, of course!).
I initially applied for the show because I thought it would challenge me both physically and mentally. I was used to being challenged physically in my training, and mentally in my business ventures, but I had not fully challenged both at the same time and this was something that interested me greatly.
For me, the hardest part of Hell Week were the first two days, starting with an eight mile march up a mountain carrying weights and supplies. Because of my racing background, I was confident going into this challenge, I assumed that I would start in the middle of the group and slowly work my way to the front, as I usually do in races, but I assumed wrong! By the end of therace I was at the very back of the pack and made it over the finish line with barely any time to spare. The physical pain I felt during this challenge was like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
Day two involved crawling through freezing cold water filled with rocks, a relay race where our team had to carry a 70 pound dummy on a stretcher, and a tug of war competition, which I truly credit my success in to the fact that we were told the losing team would have to get back in the piercing cold water. I was freezing cold, in agonizing pain, and nearing the limits of what I believed I could take.
This was my turning point. As I took a moment to stand still and take in what was happening in my mind and my body, something happened. I managed to quiet the screaming pain coming from my body, and the negative thoughts in my head. I did this by allowing my mind and my body to communicate with each other. What was making me feel this way in my body? Why was I having these thoughts in my head?
I was so cold, in so much pain and my spirits were at an all time low. It was then I realised something. I was comparing how I felt in that moment to ways I had felt in the past, instead of tothe utter worst case scenario of what could possibly happen. I had known going into Hell Week that I would be pushing past what I thought my limits were and going places I had never gone before, and once I acknowledged this I knew what I had to do.
I turned my negative thoughts into positive ones, and in doing so enabled my body to go further.By connecting my mind and my body I completely changed my outlook, and in turn my limits. After this, the competition became a great deal less difficult. While I definitely wouldn’t call it easy, it was miles easier than it had been before. I was more composed and in control, and having identified the negative feelings and thoughts in my mind and body, I was able to not let them overwhelm me again.
I genuinely don’t think you have to be a top athlete to be successful in Ultimate Hell Week. Whatis more important, I believe, is to have a good level of overall fitness, to be a team player and most importantly of all, to have mental fortitude and resolve. The secret to my success was definitely being able to connect my mind and my body, and listen to the feedback both were giving me.
Perhaps my biggest takeaway from the show was the realisation that in one way or another, I had been doing this all my life, and that this has always been the secret to my success. Realising how often I practice a method that connects my mind and body was a big take away after the show. Now that the show is over, I’m looking forward to sharing my method with others, through corporate talks and training athletes to achieve their fitness goals.