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training

Finding Enjoyment

Finding Enjoyment

Sorry for the radio silence. After Tajikistan I felt the need to simply enjoy everything life had to give without writing it down and sharing it in long form. I still plan on telling the Tajikistan story - maybe some more time needs to go by. It wasn't like it was especially personally traumatic or anything, more that it gave me a new appreciation of my life due to the close edge we got to in that country. 

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What I wanted to write on here is the change in training and mindset I've had over the last six months since returning.

After returning from Tajik the priority was about fun and living life to the full. Of course I already felt I didn't do too badly at this prior last summer but I always felt I had more to give within myself and that I could be a better person in many ways - I needed a focus and this seemed a positive one to have. 

Fun was on the agenda. 

I took the pressure of needing to 'get fitter faster' off my mind with that fear of what would happen if I didn't and this changed everything. 

I started having fun with my training again. 

I had a new gym that proved empty of other people - perfect. I moved house, still in the big city but with the beauty of a large park with rolling hills (kind of) on my door step. This park created more than great hill running routes and fresh greenery, it provided me with imagination and childlike curiosity again.

Well, in my talks I like to ask the audience 'when was the last time you climbed a tree?' As a kid I was forever climbing trees, no questions asked and this kept me happy and naturally fit among the other things. I realised when I was asking these strangers, I was being a bit of a hypocrite! When was the last time I climbed a tree?! I couldn't remember! 

So as I was switching up my regular work outs and keeping it consistent, I decided that when I was home in the countryside for Christmas, I'd put the old rope back on the old wilting willow tree and attempt to climb to the top. This was something I had not done in many years. It was something that was a key part of me growing up but when I realised I had lost it years ago, I was in denial to try to learn again with the fear of failure looming over me. 

Christmas break came and I knew that in my mind it was time - I was thinking in dramatic phrases like this! 

The rope was looped onto the tree, I took off my shoes and scurried to the top in my amazement. I was me again! I can't tell you how pleased and proud I was of myself! I even called over my parents to watch (something we all used to do as kids - 'Come watch me') they weren't too impressed and I think my mum even said 'Well I've seen you do it so many times over the years, it doesn't seem so new!' Well it was new to me once again and I was thrilled. 

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I was thrilled!

After this little moment I bought a climbing rope for my London place and now I head to the park on the weekends with it in a backpack to climb up and down purely for the fun of it. Climb like nobodies watching! The rope even joined me for a weekend in Wales! 

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My point is, because I've enjoyed climbing, running and gymming again, I've naturally pushed myself and found my true self again, even getting all proud and unable to hide my excitement. I get to set achievable goals just because I want to. (My next one is climb the rope with arms only). 

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Tajikistan might have been a wake up call to enjoy these little things like climbing ropes and trees and for that I am thankful for it. I feel ready for this Arctic expedition in 2 weeks time (heading back to the chilly Finnsmarkvidda plateau!) and for the expeditions after that and after that... Let's do this!

TRAINING FOR 7000M

TRAINING FOR 7000M

April isn't far away at all. April marks the time where I set off to join the World's Highest Dinner Party on Everest. Sounds bonkers, right? Well, that's because it is, but it's all for an amazing cause and some serious money is being raised for it.

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My Training for Denali

My Training for Denali

Training/workouts/exercise/session/thrashing/beasting/gymming … Whatever term you use it all comes down to one focus – improving yourself physically and mentally.

I feel I can write a post about training now. I’ve been seeing real improvements over the last 3 months on the run up to my Denali expedition. It’s a real relief to see clear results of my developments because in the last year or so, moving forward with training was going at a real slow rate and injuries kept reoccurring. A few years ago I was fit as a fiddle, some may even say too fit/did too much as it later developed to injury (and when I say injury I mean running so much that I broke the bones in my feet.) Being injured really knocked me off guard and I lost my focus a little in the fear of injuring myself again.

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Balancing work and play... Or in my case, not very well

Balancing work and play... Or in my case, not very well

I was told a memorable bit of advice when on an expedition in Svalbard for 10-weeks in 2011. For the whole team, it was the first long haul expedition we had ever been on. We had no outside contact at all, were completely self-sufficient in the Arctic wilderness. We were moving, climbing and partaking in science work for the duration and it took some of the team more time than others to adjust to this life. We were told that it would take each person different times before our 'spirit' traveled from the UK to Svalbard.

The idea being that our spirits would be left at home when we arrived in Svalbard whilst we adjusted to life in the Arctic. But when we were in the swing of things and the expedition became our world, our spirit would return to us and we would feel whole again. It would take even longer for our spirit to return to us when we got home. For many months post expedition it would be left in Svalbard as we adjusted to civilian life again. Thing is, I don’t think my spirit ever came back, my spirit is essentially always on the next adventure. That’s not a cry for sympathy, I love my civilian life but what makes it so great is that I can keep adventure a part of it. Without it I would have a big piece of me missing.

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Short term memory

Short term memory

I usually complain about the fact that humans have a short term memory. We do though, we will watch a hard hitting documentary about climate change and extinction and how we are one car drive away from wiping out this whole planet.. Then we will switch off the telly, get up and switch on the fan heater instead of putting on the wooly jumper grandma gave us. We are short term creatures, only a couple of meals away from starvation.

There's no wonder why most of the world can't see beyond their own lives and don't give a monkeys ass about what happens after they're gone.

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This short term memory is something to be ashamed of.

However the short term memory I am talking about is the kind that gets me through hard expeditions and training. It may be the only thing that will get me through Patagonia. (Although I really hope it doesn't apply with the skill sets I need to remember, such as rope and kayak skills!)

I went for a run this morning and I feel great now but if I really think back to just an hour ago when I was on that run; in the rain, wind and mud, going up hills and feeling like my legs were made of lead, I realise that I've forgotten those bad parts. For me, any good that can be found in that kind of thing, out ways the bad.

It's the same on bike rides. Going up a hill feeling like you're not making any progress as your thighs burn and you wobble because your speed isn't enough to keep you riding smoothly. Your lungs are at full capacity, your breathing hurts, your heart is pounding out of your mouth and your eyes droop as the hill doesn't ever seem to end. But then, you're at the top, the incline has changed and now you are going down, free wheeling and you think "that wasn't too bad." Already you've forgotten that feeling of struggle.

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I'm all too aware that Patagonia will consist of extremely hard struggle the majority of the time. What I've got to cling on to however is the idea that any little ray of light or enjoyment, will allow me to forget the terror and let me look around and appreciate what I am doing and where I am. Our team camaraderie should assist in this.

Because let's face it, it's been my choice all along to sign up to this ridiculous challenge that I am in no way qualified for. It should also be my choice to have a little fun with it and be grateful to everyone around me who have supported me in this insane idea.