Over the last few months I’ve been planning (i.e. procrastinating) and talking (i.e. trying to convince myself) about an adventure I want to do next year. I expect most people go through the same process when looking to do something new and hunt for that eureka moment of either support or opposition.
I’ve always worked well under pressure and there’s no greater motivator than a looming deadline or risk of failure to get you into action. Coming up with a new adventure or challenge is no different and for me I guess time’s up on mulling things over.
I always like to have something to aim towards from a fitness point of view whether that’s the Great North Run or some tougher challenge. Then, my next step is usually to involve other people or a local good cause because it becomes a more public commitment to getting it done. A goal or ambition left washing around in your head will often just get diluted, put off or even worse get forgotten about.
I’m an in-and-out adventurer! I like things to be achievable in a timely manner as between family and business I can’t commit the time to weeks or months walking, running or cycling somewhere – mores the pity. But this presents a problem as a lot of the things I end up doing are relatively big undertakings, just in short periods of time.
‘What do I have planned?’ I hear you ask. I’ll come to that in a second.
The Bad, the Good and the Ugly.
Back in 2006 my mate (Clive) and I decided that the newly opened Hadrian’s Wall Path looked like a good challenge to try. Eighty miles of picturesque non-stop walking over a weekend was a big ask but we were up for it! We just forgot that we needed our bodies to be up for it. And that we needed our planning and preparation to be up for it too!
Needless to say a commendable forty or so miles into the walk and we gave up. The reasons, like my next challenge, I’ll come onto.
Fast forward to 2012 and the decision was made to try the challenge again. This time there were six of us (I involved more people to make it a real event), we had a charity on board (accountability was there) and six months of planning and preparation was involved – failure was not an option! I’m proud to say that after around 30 hours and just shy of 80 miles walked I completed my Hadrian’s Wall Challenge.All the planning and preparation (and training which I’ll come onto) doesn’t prepare you for what your mind and body goes through on something like this. I could list the issues I experienced but thinking back the main things were hating the texture of water (we drank a lot), lack of sleep (trying to get a few minutes sleep on a rest stop is stressful), and the huge pain and discomfort of swollen and blistered feet.
That isn’t nail varnish on my toes and this was a week later!
Since then I’ve done other more modest(and less painful)stuff and seen some fantastic sites. In 2014 for the second time I did the Lakes 24 Peaks Challenge and during a break in a very stormy day the top of Scafell Pike was a big highlight.
A Walk in the Park
Since 2012 I’ve grown attached to my toe nails again and become increasingly unsettled at the thought of no big adventure on the horizon. Whilst I keep fit and active most days I’m missing that event to aim towards. I love my #everydayadventures and know that any new challenge will need to involve those as well as fitting in family and work time.
Ok. 600 words of build-up is probably enough and in order to achieve a goal apparently you’ve got to write it down, so here goes….
In May 2016 I will take on my #WalkinthePark Challenge. Eighty miles -non-stop -through some of the most beautiful, remote and uninhabited country in England. The walk will take me from the southern edge of Northumberland National Park along Hadrian’s Wall and the Pennine Way, over the Cheviots and onto St Cuthbert’s Way finishing on the northern edge of the park.
‘Why?’ Good question!
- Northumberland National Park offers some of the best walking in the UK and is one of the quietest places to visit compared to the other National Parks. Any challenge like this needs to be inspiring and motivating and that’s what’s on offer here – big time!
- The build up to this adventure will need me to get much more familiar with the route and this gives me the perfect excuse to get out for the next nine months and enjoy and learn more about where I’ll be going – and drag my family along too!
- It’s on my doorstep. The opportunity to do any adventure so close to home again is very appealing as I can fit it in with work and family.
- As before, I want to do some social good from this so as well as raising money for local good causes I plan to use the walk to promote and highlight not only Northumberland’s National Park but also those around the country which very few of us realise are there – or in fact that they’re free and open to us all.
Perfect planning prevents poor performance (PPPPP) so unlike 2006, and more like 2012, planning and training has to start straight away. Planning is the easy bit with nine months to go but training is the most daunting. I’m often asked how is it possible to train for something like this, especially when fitting it around normal life, and I have a simple philosophy that it just needs to be smart, but still hard.
A good example of being smart with training is trying to get it into everyday life initially so it’s not a time inconvenience. I’ve already started to ditch my car in favour of running or cycling so training has become my mode of transport. Next step will be making the journey a little longer or carrying some additional weight to make the same journey harder.
The other side of training smart is about applying measurement and adversity to what you do. It’s unlikely you’ll walk 80 miles non-stop in training but the miles you do weekly can be tracked and increased. I use a simple bit of wearable technology to track my distance and steps and this is monitored through an online system making the whole process very easy.
During any challenge you’ll encounter adversity and it’s important to replicate this in training, it’s also a great way to start to test out kit. Wet feet, wet clothes, too hot, too cold, hungry, dehydration are all situations which can be experienced in training, and therefore safely, to get you ready for whatever happens.
I’ve learned a lot of lessons over the years about what an adventure can throw at you and seen endless examples of what we can achieve if we aim for something and prepare properly. My step towards my next big adventure was putting pen to paper and making it public – what will yours be?