Guest Blog: Risk Assessment and Finding Your “Edge”
Rock climbing, mountaineering, mountain biking, hiking, skydiving, base jumping, skiing, scuba diving, free diving, and surfing are a few sports that have one thing in common: “The edge”.
The edge is the last point in which you can accomplish a task before risking negative consequences. If we don't challenge ourselves or push our edge then there will never be any progression. The catch is, if we push ourselves too hard we risk injury, emotional pain, burn-out, and, for some sports, death.
Intensity without pain. Mentally engaged, not mentally overloaded. Focused but not fixated. Strenuous without strain. This is the fine line between your edge and negative consequences. The type of approach you take to your edge is your protection. If you approach your edge with diligent training, a fresh set of eyes, and respect, then you're stacking the odds in your favor. With anything, that’s all you're doing; you’re just trying to stack the odds in your favor.
The important factor to remember is that we’re all human. Therefore, we’re not perfect and we’re bound to make mistakes. This is commonly referred to as "the human factor." The greater the risk the greater the margin of error that is required. You’re giving yourself a margin of error for the human factor, for sudden change of circumstances and psychological limitations.
Our sports are complex. Our lives are complex. Our planet is complex. Our edge is no exception. It’s fluid and can change at any given moment. The time of day, time of year, weather, teammates, friends, rest, location, well-being, diet, and outside life stressors including relationship problems, grievances, financial stress, etc. all play a role on where your edge is at any given moment. Check in with yourself often.
Fear is our best friend and best indicator of where our edge is and if it's changing. Instead of training yourself to overcome, conquer, and ignore fear, train yourself to understand all facets of fear. Bad fear hinders your ability to think logically. Too much adrenaline also triggers cortisol (stress hormone) and our prefrontal cortex shuts down with either one of these variables. Consequently, our ability to make concise and complex decisions goes out the window; which can be vital in situations where your life is on the line or a serious injury. Good fear is a red flag. Sometimes it’s a “gut” feeling. Whenever you’re feeling fear, look into it deeper. What is it trying to tell you? Is the risk worth it? After making an assessment, move forward (or backwards). It takes more bravery and courage to walk away from something then it does to push past your edge and risk injury or death.
Alex Honnold free soloed El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. The consequences on this climb was death. The risks he took were high. The margin of error was low. What was his protection? Two years of very diligent training dedicated to that specific climb. Whatever cliff you're looking to climb, summit you want to stand on, trail you want to explore, depth you want to swim to, mountain you want to ski, wave you want to ride, or flight you want to take, just remember there’s no rush. Those features will always be there. Creating longevity is the ultimate goal, and our training will help us accomplish that. So, train hard and don't forget to have fun along the way.
Jessica Maviano was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. "The outdoors has been my sanctuary and escape since I could walk. I graduated college in Recreational Therapy and I started skydiving in 2013. I started BASE jumping in 2015. Since then I’ve visited Italy, Switzerland, Panama, and China to jump, as well as many states in America. My passion is being outdoors and flying in the sky, but what brings me the most joy is flying and exploring the world with my friends and my lover." Follow Jessica along on her adventures here
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