Robert Norman’s 24 Hour Guinness World Record Attempt – Mental Strength
By Robert Norman
Greetings again readers! I’m Robert Norman, SUP paddler from Florida and today we will be delving into my training and supplies for the Guinness World Record attempt on Feb 10th-Feb 11th at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota. The current number to beat to be put into the men’s record is 99.4Mi or 160KM. My current training is suggesting a number closer to 120 miles or 193KM.
With only one day left before the 24 hour event, I wanted to go over one of the biggest obstacles for this event; the mind. This has been an important focus point for me leading to the event, and I wanted to try and put it into words for people to understand. The mind is very powerful, it’s a resource you can draw from to succeed, or can be a cumbersome burden if not utilized.
My first inspiration to fortify mental endurance is looking to individuals that have accomplished a more staggering task. I look to these people, whether I know them or not, as almost a milestone as to what is humanly possible. Looking to someone that has, for example, bicycled across a country for 48 hours with no break, or a special forces unit staying alert in a combat zone for 70+ hours, and even other paddlers who have done this event, gives me the confidence that a 24 hour paddle at a high speed is well within the limits of the human body.
My primary inspiration has been Chris Bertish travelling across the Atlantic Ocean. I believe he had just begun his journey when I was preparing our my first 12 hour paddle. I was intimidated by 12 hours and trying to properly map out how to approach it. The stressor for me is its not simply being on the water or the board for that long, but I have a personally set speed I must maintain the entire time. Seeing the conditions he has to conquer for literally months with no support, I was able to suck it up and just do it. Knowing in the back of my mind that someone has gone through so much more physically allows me to believe in myself and keep pushing the limit.
Another key aspect I’ve had in my benefit is patience. It’s not something I’ve trained, but it’s just inherently there. It’s very easy to start at a speed of closer to 10,000 meters per hour, but forcing yourself to conserve energy and take that speed back to 8,000 has been a barrier. The first few hours are torture because of this, so this is where patience plays a vital role. The other aspect of patience is taking breaks for water or food. It’s very easy to think “I need to catch up to speed NOW” and waste energy going too fast. The idea I’ve been training is “increase speed by 1-2 strokes per minutes for the next hour.” It takes a big mental blow being behind pace for that long, but there is no rush trying to play catch up and sprint.
My confidence levels are at an all time high, after crushing my last 6 hours at over 8,500 meters hourly (with less food packed than planned on accident), and having my full support team ready to go, it seems easy to be ready for the event. Thanks so much to everyone that has followed these articles and have wished me well, I know I’m going to crush this record… the question now is by how much!!!