Growing up, I was a fidget. I was that kid that was always full of energy and loved running and climbing on things. Trees. Playgrounds. The book shelves in Waterstones. I was a little shit to be honest (god bless my poor parents!). But I loved adventure.
I loved the outdoors, and like many kids at that age I had no real perception of fear or that feeling of ‘I can’t do that’. Maybe it was because of a rich childhood spent outdoors and playing sports. And binging on Spiderman and Gladiators.
But with school, University, and then starting my professional career, I always seemed to look for an excuse not to get out and do more. I still enjoyed playing football and going for the occasional bike ride, but they didn’t really have that crazy appeal. I wanted to get that adventurous attitude back.
5 years ago, I set myself the personal challenge of doing at least 1 new, ‘big’, endurance event every year alongside the typical runs and competitions, and I had to follow 2 simple rules:
1: With each new event (running, rowing, biking etc.), the distance & difficulty had to be different. They can be similar courses, but it must be a test
2: It has to have that ‘wow factor’ – something that will give me that big smile on my face when I cross the finish line
In that time I’ve finished a Dragon Boat Race on the Thames (still to this day the single hardest thing I’ve done), 3 Tough Mudders with friends, all raising money for charity, and the Rat Race Dirty Weekend last year which, at 20 miles, is the longest off-road running event I’d done.
But with each challenge, I try to see them for what they are – big adventure playgrounds.
That’s not to say I sign up to these things in total naivety or that they’re too easy to get worked up over. If anything, I’ve recently started to learn how to stop myself overtraining and getting ‘into my head’ too much, which is an experience I really want to write about in another post.
But rather than see a 12 mile course with obstacles designed by ex-marines to maim, I see them places to show what I can do, get muddy in and generally have fun. I’ll probably look more like a failed contestant on Takeshi’s Castle along the way, than an SAS war machine, but with each new challenge will come new stories and experiences to share – which is what I want to capture here.
In just over 3 weeks I’ll take on Man vs. Mountain, a 22 mile run right across Snowdon in North Wales. Even after months of training I do still have moments when I think ‘f*ck!’ and ‘seriously, what is wrong with just sitting down and having a beer?’.
But like the others I’ve done before, I know I can take this one head on and, hopefully, come out on the other side with a smile.