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How to Challenge Your Mental Limits with Anne-Marie Watson

Anne-Marie Watson joined the army and spent 9 years traveling the world, she later came 2nd in the Marathon des Sables, and today she runs Reach For More Performance Coaching while spending her own time as a performance athlete. Although she grew up hating P.E., she consistently challenged her mental limits as she grew to accomplish incredible things.

1. Ask for Help

Many of us limit ourselves before we even have the chance to achieve. Just hearing about a potential challenge makes us push the opportunity away. Deciding to commit and complete an adventure is half of the battle. Taking that step and convincing yourself that you can possibly do it is one of the most difficult aspects.

Anne-Marie’s advice? Ask someone who’s been there. For Anne-Marie, getting on a bike was a challenge she faced. She decided to do it for herself and get a friend to walk her through the technical side of getting a good quality bike.

Having a support network and reaching out to someone who’s been there before can provide the inspiration for you to keep going and commit. This simple step of asking for support can make such a difference. People want to help you.

2. Plan Mentally

Before a big race, Anne-Marie always does a lot of planning both physically and mentally. She decides to manage her mental and physical state with a constant mental chat. She checks in with herself on eating, hydration, and what her needs might be.

The most important part of planning to persevere mentally is staying positive. “When you get to a negative state, that’s where things start to go wrong. Have a mental strategy that will pull yourself out,” Anne-Marie advised. When things get hard, you’re going to have negative thoughts. Prepare for that with a strategy that will help you turn those thoughts around.

3. Take Time for Recovery

Anne-Marie had no idea how she would cope with the difficulty of a multi-day race during the Marathon des Sables. When she was on the race and she got in for the night, it was all about recovery. She didn’t get in line for the internet or stick around to chat, she immediately got into her tent and focused on conserving energy.

“I am a complete sleep monster,” Anne-Marie shared. “I love sleep. If I don’t get eight hours a day, all bets are off. My body just likes that energy.” When you’re putting a lot of stress on your body, you need to look after your body properly. For Anne-Marie, that was being conscious of her diet, getting high-quality protein, and listening to her body.

Sometimes it’s about slowing down. Just sit, relax and chill. If your mind and your body are constantly active, you wear yourself out.

4. Slowly Build Up Your Training

While training for the Marathon des Sables, the 6 marathons in 6 days event, Anne-Marie was living in Saudi Arabia where the temperature was the same as it would be during her run in the marathon. But in Saudi Arabia, she had to live where she couldn’t drive a car or enjoy many of the freedoms she usually did. She lived on a small compound and was often restricted to that space.

Once she decided to do it and put a training plan in place while living in a small compound, she practised building up the long, slow runs with weight. She’d run around the compound over and over again listening to podcasts. She slowly built up her training. When you’re facing a challenge that’s going to stretch you, slowly build up to it so you have more confidence in yourself and your ability to complete the challenge.

5. Whatever Happens, Enjoy the Moment

What really challenged Anne-Marie during the Marathon des Sables was the beginning of the long day where she set off to leave at 8 am, but because she was one of the top 5 women (a complete surprise), she had to start at 11 am. This meant that she would have to wait 3 hours and run 3 hours more in the dark that night.

While her worries really started getting to her, Anne-Marie realised that she needed to just enjoy the moment. She told herself, “This is a massive surprise, and you’re doing really well.” She blocked out her nerves and recognised the beauty in the middle of the Sahara on her own. What you see is up to your perception. If you think it’s boring that’s what you’re going to see, but if you think it’s beautiful that will be your world.


Listen to Anne-Marie share her personal experiences and life journey on the Tough Girl Podcast.



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