questionswhat is the toughest physical challenge you have…

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My buddy and I got lost on a day trip on one of the smaller ranges on the Annapurna Trail in Pokhara, Nepal last year.

While I've had shorter spurts of physical pain, like half marathons and cross-training, this was probably the most physically demanding thing I've had to do. The trip started at 7:00 am and we made it back down to the city at 8:00 pm. In order to make it there before dark we had to scale down some cliffs that weren't connected to any path, which eventually led us to some small animal trails and bigger trails through villages and rice fields.

We did this with 2 liters of water between the two of us, and three bags (about 180 grams) of peanuts, and a couple beers.

Luckily, my buddy had brought some of his prescribed adderall. That helped quite a bit, haha.

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Physical therapy for 2 knee replacements and a rotator cuff repair, all at the same time!

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10 day backpacking trip in the Smokeys. My pack was 58 lbs. We hiked a total of 182.5 miles. I was sore, but still able to go to work the next day. We also turned around and did it again for 8 days in the Ozarks the next month.

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My first 10 mile run. I was just starting out (about 2 weeks in my training and still way overweight) I was running 1/4 way around a lake and would turn around and run back( more like walk/jog). I did not know how far the entire run around the lake was but decided I was able to do it. Over 2/3s of the way I knew I would be late if I did not step up. I was out of gas but stepped up anyway. I made it but collapsed.

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I don;t know if it really qualifies, but I had a grand mal seizure at 16 that left me in a coma for a couple of days. When i woke up I was paralyzed on the left side for about a week. It faded, but I haven't ever gotten back the full ambidexterity I had before that, and it largely wiped my hard drive as far as memory goes. But I don't know if I won my way back to consciousness and physical capability through struggle or simple biology, as I have little memory of it.

The best physical struggle story from someone close to me is when my mom was ten, she and her twelve year old brother were playing around alone at the school baseball field on a quiet Sunday afternoon and she broke her leg. He carried her more than two miles back home. It created a bond between them that never dimmed.

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I recently pulled my hamstring which made walking a block my toughest phyisical challenge ever. Physical Therapy was rough for a while too.

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Summer 2001 I did a mission trip to Belize. My team and seemingly half the village poured the second story concrete roof of the school building we were working on in one day. We had a small powered concrete mixer and an electric water pump but everything else including moving the buckets from the ground up to the roof was pure manual labor. It took us about ten hours to get the roof poured, in 95+ degree heat, 100% humidity (the light rain in the afternoon was a welcome relief). I have never worked that hard and that long before or since.

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I was in a really nasty car wreck when I was 16, I had to learn how to walk again and use my hands and fingers. It was a really tough time in my life. I still have issues with my leg but at least I didnt lose it.

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childbirth
climbing the Great Wall of China (well, part of it anyway)

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@jseureau: like you I had to learn to walk and use my hands/'fingers again due to a brain tumor/stroke. I also had to learn to smile again as the stroke caused one side of my face to droop. I think that was the hardest part. The walking and learning to hold or write things wasn't as bad as I expected but the facial things were horrible. You think you are telling your brain to smile or close you mouth and it is just not happening. Luckily, since I was relatively young (31) for all of this to happen, I have bounced back, not 100% but getting closer every day.

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@thunderthighs: Your birth or your child's birth?

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Oddly enough, mine was on vacation. I went to France for a couple of weeks in the summer of 2000. Everything I had was in a backpack, which weighed over 60 pounds. Doesn't sound like much, but try walking over 10 miles a day with it every day for 2 weeks. The divots in my shoulders were insane; at least a half inch deep. I'd get to that day's hotel, and pry the pack out of my shoulders. They didn't even have time to get back to normal by the next morning. It was great (no sarcasm), and by the time I got back none of my clothes fit. As it happens, 10 mile hikes with a full pack tend to make you lose weight, even when you're eating French food all day.

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I have to say, while there have been times in my life I did some pretty demanding things (working on a flight line during summer heat in Florida and New Mexico wearing chem gear is pretty demanding), it's nothing compared to some of the stories so far.

My hat's off to you all!

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Lots of inspirational stuff in here! :)

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@mtm2: I'm sure my birth was difficult but I don't remember it. Let's just go with my son's birth.

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similar to @moondrake. epic seizure-fest. reduced to 90 lbs. very sick. very scary.

either that or the 2007 Greco-Roman Wild Boar Wrestling Throwdown.

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@thunderthighs: YOU GAVE BIRTH TO YOUR SON WHILST CLIMBING THE GRATE WALL OMG

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@pemberducky: now you're back to an epic 95 lbs!

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I'm in awe of some of the histories above, and to put my own answer I tend to laugh to myself that for one, nothing I could say would be as bad as some of these things told by some of you, and two, it is that I have a lot of things I consider to have been physical challenges, and one that was not physical but was a retraining. There have been many challenges. I don't know how to pick a "most" challenging. I could pick the challenge that was in an anecdotal sense, recognizable as a physical challenge but was not very significant in terms of challenges in general. Such as, I had to walk up a flight of stairs during a blackout, sixteen stories, carrying a kitten and a wood framed architecture model. That was a challenge. I was around fifteen at the time. Or I could pick the challenge where, also without long term consequences I had to walk during a transit strike, around five miles round trip each day, and every muscle in my body hurt; almost quit the job then but the 32 day strike ended.

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Climbed a cliff/pile of gigantic boulders at Devil's Lake, WI. By the time I got to the top my muscles felt like jello and coming down the steep trail was scary because my legs would randomly go weak and almost collapse on me.

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There are at least three challenges that I consider the most, however, and none of them are easy to write about. They are still being struggled with. But, I'm much better than before. In reverse chronological order, earlier this year I was bitten by a brown recluse spider, which had unbeknownst to me a family in my reclining chair. I thought at the time that it would be a life changing experience and it was a day changing experience, because I had to go to two, not just one, ER's to obtain the medicine that such bite requires. Thanks for my internet research I learned what I needed to keep my leg intact, with the use of activated charcoal poultices. The venom is still kicking around in my system, however, and is in the vicinity of my sinuses and eyes, mainly in the form of simultaneous conjunctivitis and sinusitis. Before that, I had to regain my strength after an apparent but undiagnosed heart attack, a few actually. And before that, I had to relearn how to read and write and think.

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What @moondrake said resonates the closest to my experience but I did not have a seizure and I was not in a coma. I did have some kind of short circuitry in my cognitive state that had two stages of amnesia following a blanket amnesia that preceded it. I'm pretty much amnesia'd out, and it was hard. I am dyslexic and so I had a grand crescendo of dyslexia at one point, something I actually never heard of myself, but I stopped being able to read words, I stopped being able to understand what people were saying, and I stopped knowing how to think. I had to relearn grammar. I had to re-attach words, and regain general communication ability. My handwriting even changed. The clearing up of the amnesia was pretty interesting. Now I have those problems. Integrating the past with the present as if the past always was. Tough for me. As for the heart attacks, I just allowed time to do what time does, and eventually I stopped needing the scooters in stores when I shopped.

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Wow this is a great question - y'all had some amazing stories. Mine are more run of the mill - long hikes that turn out longer than anticipated, my first marathon, triathlons. I have come back from injuries (now working through some herniated discs) but nothing that serious.

Following the theme of parental stories - one that always stuck with me was about my mom. When she was in about 7th grade she broke her arm. She was headed to the doc for the three week checkup and stepped of a curb wrong and broke her other arm! Her brother had to help her get to the doc (they were walking) and set her arm. She had two casts for over two weeks. I'm pretty sure there is something about him throwing a snowball at her that started it all...

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@mkdr: That's it; just blame the brother.

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I did a winter hike on the Appalachian Trail through Tennessee and North Carolina. An ice storm hit the first day we were out. Had an all day uphill climb in ice, 2 days of hiking through knee deep snow/ice mixture. Temps were around -5f most of the time during the day and lower at night. It was brutal but I'm glad we did it.

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@thunderthighs: You beat me to the childbirth comment. Well, the GIVING birth comment, anyway.

@bingo969: I walked the entire Appalachian Trail a couple of years ago. Well, it was from side to side, but that counts, doesn't it?

Seriously, I am not as physically active as I know I SHOULD be. Heck, I nearly passed out in the heat working on our boat last month! However, when I was eight I suffered a pretty severe closed head injury in a bicycle accident and was in a coma for several days. When I "woke" I had anterograde amnesia for several weeks. Physically I recovered pretty quickly, I guess, but I really don't remember much of it. You folks are inspiring!

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Does this question have a area for "kid's rides".... After reading some of these amazing stories any of my tales would compare more with the bumper cars rather then the roller coasters.

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On September 29th I'll be doing Tough Mudder a 10-12 mile obstacle course in the mountains with fun events like running through a field on fire, greased monkey bars, running through live wires, and carrying a log up a hill. I expect to be aching for a few days.

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@raider9924: LOL. Reading these makes me think of a lot of close calls I have had, but escaped with my skin more or less intact. Here's a harrowing one that I have only the vaguest memory of, but my mom recalls in torturous detail. We were living near the edge of a small town in Michigan in the middle of winter. My parents went out and left us with a babysitter. I was 8, my brothers were 2 and 3. I took them outside to play in the snow. It started snowing quite heavily. I was dragging them around on the wooden sled, and the storm increased to a whiteout and I became completely turned around and lost. (I have a legendary lack of directional sense).

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I could not find the house, or anything solid other than the occasional tree. I walked and walked, dragging my chubby little brothers. I was exhausted but I knew if I let go of the sled and went looking for help I would never find them again. Finally I ran smack into the corner of a house, felt my way to a door and knocked. It was the last house in town. If I'd missed it we'd have all died. We'd been lost for more than an hour, my parents had been called home and the police were out looking for us. All I really remember of the incident was a wall of white and my certainty that whatever else happened, I was not going to let go of that sled.

I have been blessed with an adventurous life which gives me a wild ride and spits me out safely. But I have a lot of great stories to tell. :)

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I am awed and humbled by many of your severe physical health challenges. And, amazed at your courgeous hard work toward recovery. Inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing.

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This has to be one of the most interesting threads I've ever read here!

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Anything that I could add would be like a hangnail compared to the other stories here. I applaud you all!

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I suffered a birth injury, Erb's palsy. About age 7 the docs surgically rearranged some muscles in my arm to counteract resulting deficiencies, as best as possible, and to make it look and grow normally.

Not letting it affect my abilities was certainly a tough challenge. Not letting it cripple me. It hardly does, these days. I'm the first sucker called to help everyone move, gimpy arm or not.

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@publicart: TMs are more fun than tough, IMO. If it's your first, have fun! Mud tip: When your foot is at the bottom, point your toe and pull straight up, so that you don't lost your shoe. And double knot your laces, while you're at it!

Also, get to the starting line as soon as the wave before you goes off. The MC guy (at least they guy I've always had at all of my TMs) is awesome.

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@dcalotta: Great thanks for the tips! Never done it before. Hey, I got a question for you/ I'm gonna wear vibrams, do you think that'll be suitable?

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@publicart: as long as you've trained in them and know how to wear them you should be ok. If you've not put in the work to get into shape to wear them for 12 miles, you're not going to finish.

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@dcalotta: Yup, I've been training in them. Just wanted to make sure there wasn't some crazy terrain they wouldn't be suitable for. Thank you!