By Rachel Grunwell

COMMENT:

I'm ready to run a hot, hilly and hard marathon in Kaua'i — an idyllic island in Hawaii.

I'm among runners from 17 countries here for the Kaua'i Marathon. There are 1600 half-marathoners, and 250 marathoners. I'm in the latter tiny category, so start to question my sanity in attempting this challenge. But that anxiety-filled moment soon evaporates.

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You see, I've come to dig a decent scary, hairy challenge.

Why? I know when I complete it I'll be darn proud and my confidence will skyrocket.

I've learned I change when I challenge myself, I always strengthen. You can do this too. You
don't have to do a marathon. I know running isn't everyone's cup of tea.

Challenge yourself with something you care about achieving. It could be work, fitness, or health related, anything ...

I wasn't always confident with challenges. I spent most of my life into my 30s not quite believing in myself. What a waste.

If I could go back in time in a Dr Who Tardis, I'd tell my younger (and awkward) self that I should choose a "yes-I-can attitude".

Here are three tips to challenge and change yourself:
1. Silence that mean girl voice in your head and don't hold yourself back from your challenge. Repeat this mantra when you get stuck with self-doubt: "Yes I can." Now believe these words. Thinking positive can propel you forwards.

2. Embrace the wobbles and trust the process. Anything worth achieving isn't easy.

3. Have a strong vision and discipline. Use the SMART goals method. So goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. You need a plan.

Meanwhile, getting that marathon medal was epic — as you can tell by my goofy-as grin. A highlight was running through the lush tropical countryside. The ukulele players and girl hula dancers were awesome. The watermelon and bananas at drink stations were yum. And okay, I grimaced lots too up those endless gnarly hills!

But while running, I felt grateful to be in paradise and doing an epic challenge. This challenge tested my legs, and my inner-strength. It was the hardest challenge I've conquered.

The finish-line moment was even sweeter with free iced Kaua'i coffee. I then celebrated with a 'runner's escape massage' at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa. It was a blissful reward for months of training and dedication I put into nailing that challenge.

I recommend you chase a scary goal that strengthens you too. And don't forget to celebrate your success.

• Rachel Grunwell is an award-winning writer, wellness expert and director of inspiredhealth.co.nz
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