Personal Development

Mindset: Tortoise and Hare in Practice

Woman in sports gear training up hill

Conquering 100K Rebel Walker

Mindset setting: She set her sights to run Hong Kong’s toughest 100km Rebel Walker. An annual event where teams run over 20 hours straight through mountainous, earthy terrain. Why? Some people love coming through the other end, of having endured, grown and conquered.

To familiarise herself with the routes and prepare for the race, Vivien enlisted a friend who’s an experienced veteran. The friend agreed that it would be a good idea to do a 20 km overnight run to gain experience of running the hilly terrain at night.

First Evening Run: Drama

At a certain point of that run, Vivien was feeling her energy dip. In need of fuel, she grabbed some powergel/snacks. The friend yelled at her to stop her from eating – as he insisted that she finish that segment of hills first. However, Vivien knew her body best and could feel her energy drop. An argument erupted. He, was insistent. She, needed the fuel. He was yelling. She was yelling back. Soon, it all went downhill, “Just go! Go away. I don’t want to ever see you again!” she yelled. And she meant it.

So the guy friend jetted off. 

At the end of the trail, he was waiting for V. Drenched in sweat and rain, exhausted and angry, Vivien declared, “I said – I DON’T WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN.” 

They went their separate ways. On that fortuitous night, she set her sights on one thing – to not be in that situation again. She’s got to run faster! Trainer better!

Accelerate growth

Vivien is an experienced hobby athlete. She’s played for women’s tennis teams of clubs, and ran marathons in Hong Kong and overseas. She made the switch to running mountains because of injuries. Surprisingly, running mountainous terrain became more bearable than running flat pavements. Saturdays are her running days with husband and friends. Rain or shine.

Upon further exploration, a two-fold approach helped accelerate her growth.

  1. Targeted Help – Physio & Trainer
  2. Having a goal in mind

Vivien credits her Physiotherapist for helping speed her recovery, even of old injuries. What set this Physiotherapist apart was her ability to pinpoint very accurately and down to the specifics which muscles to strengthen and advise specific exercises to do. The exercise program the physiotherapist designed effectively addressed the physical weakness and misalignments that had yielded the old injuries. Thanks to the targeted action plans, V’s old injuries dissolved, giving way to more mileage in her runs.

Then the trainer Vivien worked with has a strong track record. Formerly one of the fastest runner on the police force, twice-weekly she trained with him. Curious, I asked, “Why do you train both days? Could you do one day yourself?” 

“The trainer pushes you,” she explains. “You can go that extra mile with a trainer. And with the action plan the Physio has given, we incorporate it into the training and he helps to make sure movements are done correctly, and the body is aligned.” 


So how did you do at the actual Rebel Walker? I asked.

The estimate was to finish in 24 hours or so. I came in at 23 something.


The Tortoise overtook the Rabbit

Vivien and the friend had since made amends and train together. In passing, she says, “I run faster than him now.” *A look of amazement from me* “I had to help him at some runs even.”

Wow. How did that happen? Don’t men generally run faster?

“He runs more for fun and no longer does so many races, so probably he’s not working towards something and hasn’t trained consistently as much as I do.”

The Tortoise overtook the Rabbit – with Strength and Commitment plus consistency.

The Tortoise and the Hare is a reminder on a growth mindset, and in a sense, setting our sights on something to work towards. What have you set your sight on?

Karen Tsui, Editor of Where My Heart Leads

Retold with permission from V.

Where My Heart Leads – Food for thought:
  • Just like piano practice, it’s easier to practice the dominant hand. However, it’s the non-dominant hand that needs more practice. How targeted do you strengthen what can help you grow?
  • Having a goal in mind affects the mindset. Giving a shoutout to the small achievements along the way can help us keep going. What have you set your sight on?