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The Misogi Challenge

May 16, 2023 | Joel Runyon

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Do something so hard one time a year that it impacts the other 364 days.

If you’ve heard of the term “misogi” in recent years – it’s probably good news. YOu’re out on your limits – looking for the next mountain to climb. But what is Misogi? Let’s give in.

The origins of Misogi

Despite what gets sensationalize – the idea of a MIsogi goes back a Japanese Shinto practice of ritual purification.

Combined with a series of rituals that would vary based on the practice, the primary consistent component would be that adherents would then purify themselves by standing in waterfalls to purify the Boyd and the mind.

There were various changes & additions to the practice, but for hundreds of years (thousands even) this was the only meaning.

However, as you might have guessed – the term has morphed over the years – eventually making its way into the world of Judo.

From there, it made it’s way to phD and performance coach, Dr. Marcus Elliott heard about its on a Wyoming backpacking trip as part of his own personal suffer-fest.

A friend mentioned the concept to him and described it as:

take on challenges that radically expand your sense of what’s possible.

As far as we can tell – in the Western world – Dr. Marcus Elliot is the first person we know to have popularized the term in this manner.

Together, between Marcus, Deyl Kearin, Kyle Korver and a few others in the mid-2010s – the idea of a personal, annual Misogi began to take form.

The Misogi Challenge

Despite the origins, the western terms of Misogi are mostly invented and additive.

While the name is borrowed from Japan, the term has evolved into a sort of personal quest – or if we dare – a version of an annual impossible list challenge.

The first person we’ve seen talk about this is the owner of – Deyl Kearin – a fellow ultra marathon and suffer-addict.

Ideas for your Own Misogi

  • Run an ultra marathon
  • Run all day for the longest day of the year.
  • Run all night for the longest night of the year.
  • Climb Mt Everest
  • Do Hell on the Hill

Once you pick one, you can add it to your impossible list here.

Famous People Promoting Misogi

If you’ve heard of Misogi – it’s probably from one of these people. They are likely the most prominent people using the word and concept – although it’s becoming more and more popular.

Edit: after further reading – Jesse is actually mentioned in this article as a “business consultant” for the Hawks in 2014- this was before he was part of the Hawks ownership group, but this is a fun little tidbit that pulls all the timelines together.

Jesse has also maybe our favorite quote summarizing the concept –

Do something so hard one time a year that it impacts the other 364 days.

What’s Your Next Misogi?

You can call it a Misogi, an Impossible Challenge or something else – but the question is – what are you going to do this year to push yourself to the limit?

Other Mentions of Misogi Around the World

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Joel Runyon

Joel is the founder of IMPOSSIBLE® and MoveWell. In addition to free fitness resources on Impossible Fitness - you can buy performance apparel and supplements on