top of page

6 Tips for Ultra Tough Challenges with Endurance Adventurer Katy Parrott

Katy Willings - Chief of Adventures at The Adventurists - Competing the Rickshaw Rally and rode in the inaugural Mongol Derby, the world's longest horse race!

Katy Parrott is no stranger to taking on the toughest of challenges. In fact, her desire to push herself through anything that comes her way has earned her the description of “Tinkerbell crossed with the Terminator”. While Katy spends her days working in TV production, her free time is full of working in the army reserves or training for ridiculous endurance events.

This incredible adventurer shows us how much you can accomplish when you dare to say yes! Keep reading for her tips on getting through challenges that seem impossible.

1. Quitting isn’t an Option

Would you ever compete in a reality show called Ultimate Hell Week? Katy did. As a ‘recruit’ for this BBC programme, Katy made it through a selection process of thousands to work with the toughest special forces from around the world. Experienced members of these special forces put Katy and the other recruits through incredibly brutal challenges that involved sleep deprivation, extreme heights, heavy packs, and more.

“I generally just say yes to anything, regardless of what it is,” Katy said. She had no idea how far she would get in the process, but she went into it with an open mind. Katy told herself there was nothing that would make her quit.

Through this experience, Katy went from being interested in fitness to living a lifestyle of pushing her limits. Katy noted, “Going on Hell Week revealed this weird physical and mental resilience I didn’t know I had.”

Katy is proof that life-changing things occur when you match a willingness to say yes with a refusal to quit.

2. Broken But Still Fighting

Hell Week’s group of recruits were made up of 15 men and 7 women in the beginning. Despite the difference in their stature, the women had to carry the same amount of weight as the men. Of course, it was harder for her but Katy knew not to dwell on something that would hold her back. While all the recruits were different, they’d each earned a place there and Katy felt that respect.

As the show progressed, 4 women made it to the final 6. Katy believes the reason they all made it was because they were mentally strong. These women wouldn’t quit under any circumstances. They also dealt with authority figures shouting at them better than the men. They played the game, formed a tight bond and supported each other.

During one of the week’s challenges, an American Green Beret singled Katy out and locked her in a coffin for most of the night. It was the first time she’d been on her own for a week so she didn’t mind. To try and get a reaction out of her, they started filling it with water and had to get her out when she started to show signs of hypothermia. The next day, Katy was carrying 50 kilos of weight in 40 degrees across sand dunes for hours. That nearly broke Katy, but despite feeling broken, she still had fight left in her.

Katy shows that when tough obstacles start to get to you mentally and physically, you can keep going. Even if you feel broken, you can still find the desire to fight on.

3. Reset in Your Own Way

Before Ultimate Hell Week finished, Katy had already planned to hike 400 kilometers in Bulgaria just days after filming ended. As part of her Masters, she’d teamed up with some zoologists to explore the area and create a short film.

Hell Week’s psychologist told her she needed to rest, but that wasn’t an option. Sure enough, Katy felt awful four days into the trek. Stuck in the middle of the mountains, there was little to do but continue the hike. Katy asked her companions to let her walk on her own for the day so she could process everything. After that, she improved and felt reset.

The hiking group didn’t see another human for days at a time as they created their own route through the mountains using Russian military maps from the 1980’s. For a month, Katy would sleep in dry river beds and wake up in the middle of nowhere. In its own way, this trip was a respite from the brutality of the special forces.

4. Pain is Temporary

Throughout her challenges, Katy has learned that you can put your body through so much more than you think is possible. She added, “Yes, you can train for things but your head is going to get you 80% further.” With each experience, Katy felt a greater desire to see how far she could push her physical and mental boundaries.

When facing pain in one of these challenges, Katy keeps this thought in mind: it’s always going to finish at some point. Whatever pain you’re going through, it’s not going to last forever and when you do finish, the achievement is massive.

At times, the pain and discomfort drives Katy into an out of body experience. She noted, “When you’re in that much pain and discomfort, your body keeps going until someone lets you stop.” During her first 100K run Katy felt this way. Her mind went somewhere else entirely and her body kept going.

Pain may scare you, but it’s only temporary. Unless you’re causing real and permanent bodily harm, keep going and let your mind wander off so your body can take over.

5. Do it with Purpose

The 100 km Cotswold Way Ultra was double the distance Katy had ever done before. Because she knew it would be a challenge, Katy decided to add a purpose to it by running in the memory of her friend. She wanted to show what was possible when you push yourself, even if you haven’t done anything like it before.

At 90 km, Katy was in utter agony. She was entirely alone. At that point, it was a mental task to get to the finish line. To get through situations like this, Katy sometimes creates entire worlds in her mind with stories that keep her going.

6. Have a Can-Do Attitude

Katy’s biggest piece of advice is to go into it with a yes attitude. She feels out of depth when signing up for almost every challenge, but she does it anyway. Her plan is to say yes and worry about it after.

“As long as you put in the preparation and time, you can achieve more than you think,” Katy said. Don’t let a lack of confidence stop you from experiencing something you’ve never done before. Say yes and push yourself through every challenge.


Listen Now

** Please note during this episode we do talk briefly about her friend who lost of her life to suicide**


Social Media

Twitter - @ParrottKaty

Instagram - @katy.parrott


Feeling inspired week after week?

You can do 3 easy things to help me continue to grow the podcast!

  1. Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, so you won’t miss a single episode

  2. If you’re loving the podcast, please leave a 5-star review on iTunes! I read every single comment!

  3. Share the podcast with your friends, especially if you think it could help them, and spread the #ToughGirlPodcast love.

Your support helps me continue to grow the podcast and do inspiring things in this space! Already done all 3? You’re a rockstar! Thank you!

Want to do more?

Please become a Patron and donate $10 every month to help fund the running costs.



bottom of page