Well, 2018 has arrived, and with it comes another sheet of paper with scribbles, bullet points and spider diagrams depicting all the places I would like to go, things I would like to do, challenges I would like to tackle and goals I want to strive towards. Then comes another bit of paper where these grand plans are narrowed down to a more realistic smaller list of what can I actually ‘afford’ to do and what fits in around the rest of day to day life. Maybe I can’t do everything, yet, but I am super excited about the year that lays ahead, and one challenge in particular!
I am giddy with excitement about, is the inaugural Silk Road Mountain Race in Kyrgyzstan. As you can see from the 2 min film above, the dirt roads and mountainous landscape look utterly breathtaking. It is an unsupported off-road race of 1700km with 26,000m of climbing. 40% of the country is over 3000m so the route never leaves the mountains, with the very first pass going from 500m to 3750m (eek!!). The race involves a lot of extreme isolation and remoteness, with great difficulty of getting help if you get into trouble due to no phone signal and stretches of 300km between any form of civilisation, and even then civilisation is a remote yurt camp. Sounds just up my street! I don’t have an off-road bike yet but that’s a minor detail.
Reflections on 2017
In 2017 I had set myself the goal of ‘A year of Adventure’ completing 12 challenges/adventures throughout the year. Sadly it didn’t go at all to plan, after damaging my Achilles 4 days into the Trans Atlantic Way Bike Race. This not only puts pay to that race but also all of my challenges I had left that year. Obviously this was a little disappointing, but none the less I still managed a number of fun adventures, including walking across the high mountain passes of the French Alps along the GR5 to get to the Mediterranean ocean, 3 day hut-to-hut ski tour along the Beaufortain Ridge, cycling around Corsica (WOW), visiting beautiful Croatia, falling in love with the spectacular hidden mountain paradise of the Vercors region and much more. So I can’t complain, I saw some wonderful places and made some magical memories, which for me is what life is all about. What I learnt from the year was that my habit of asking too much of my body through big challenges, without putting enough groundwork in first, equates to injury. I also had to tackle my demons of dealing with failure and striving ever closer to fearing regrets far more than failure. So it’s these things that I have based my three main goals for 2018 around.
2018 Goal 1
My first new goal for this year is to blog more. The reason for this is that I am an inherently lazy adventurer, as well as having a very bad sugar addiction. Both of which I want to change ….as I do every year! But I was hoping, that if I wrote my plans for the year down here on my blog, along with updates on how I was getting on, then maybe just maybe, this would make me more motivated and determined to stay focused, work harder and become stronger, as I would feel accountable to my words. (Plus people are often asking me to write more about what I get up to). The only way to know if this is going to work is by starting. So here I go…
2018 Goal 2
So the second goal is going to be to tackle this sugar addiction. I won’t stop eating sugar completely, that would mean removing nearly all of my favourite things from my life! I tried it once for 3 months and I was utterly miserable. But more importantly, if I was to give up sugar completely I think I would really struggle with ultra distance challenges. When your cycling across a continent and need to be consuming over 5000 calories a day, and the only shopping option that day are petrol stations, then ice cream, biscuits and coke are the only way forward!! Plus my nutritionist at Loughborough uni told me ice cream was my best friend for ultra distance!! However, I know I should eat a more balanced diet than I do the rest of the time. After a lot of research and looking at a number of eating regimes, I think I found a good one for me (don’t worry I won’t be photographing my food all the time just because I have changed my eating habits). It’s designed for endurance athletes and is based on the Daily Quality Score of what you eat. I will write a blog specifically on this in more detail, but I’m feeling really positive that this way of eating could have a massive impact on helping me through my sugar lows, fatigue and just generally feeling lethargic. As well as looking at the quality of the foods you’re eating each day, it controls the number of carbohydrates you eat each day based on the hours of endurance sport your doing. So to work this out I need an accurate reading of my weight…
Since 2006, when my modelling days stopped and my love of sport and adventure began, I have never really worried about how much a weigh, but on the odd occasion I have stood on a set of scales, I have always been around 62kg’s. So when I stood on the scales on the 2nd Jan I was somewhat surprised to see them read 69kg’s! How had that happened!!! (well not enough cardio and too much eating of burgers obviously… but I just hadn’t seen it coming). The first thing I did, as I’m sure you can imagine, was suggest the scales were faulty. I called my boyfriend in to weigh himself and see if the scales were giving him a reading heavier than what he normally is. His reading was 2kg’s LESS than he thought he was, ahhhh, and then when I looked at the scales I saw he was only 70kg’s, 1kg heavy than me! That was it, the sugar binging has to stop!
2018 Goal 3
My third goal this year is my aspiration to be STRONG! I would like to be stronger in a number of ways. Muscularly stronger, in the hope, it will prevent injury. To do this I have incorporated weights training into my life for the first time ever. I would also like to be physically stronger in the sense of being ‘better’ at what I do… “Be stronger than your excuses” is something I really struggle with. I have always had a habit of doing just enough when it comes to preparing for a race adventure or trip. I have never really trained as such, or followed a plan. I just go outside and do sport for fun, to socialise with friends, to see new places and because sport just makes you feel good. The idea of following a structured training plan has always frightened me a little, as I have been concerned that I would then lose the love of the sport if it felt more like a chore. However, I am a little torn, as I also wondered if I could improve greatly by having a structured training plan. So this year I will try a new approach with the aim to become stronger, by working harder and actually pushing myself in training and not just during the race!
I also aspire to become stronger mentally. I think over the past few years I have lost a little confidence in myself and my ability to tackle the tough stuff. A couple of DNF’s to my name seems to have slightly dampened my belief that anything is possible. So I plan to work hard to find that girl who headed off on to the Patagonian Icecap knowing she was going to face one of the harshest environments in the world, with no possibility of rescue, carrying just shy of her body weight on her back, and not enough food for the duration of the expedition. I want to find her again!
So with my goals laid down, it’s time to get on with it and start filling my year with wonderful adventures, making memories, seeing new places, meeting with new faces and learning new skills, so that nothing feels familiar & therefore everyday becomes extraordinary. …oh, and continue to stay away from routine, as routine makes life go by too fast. If you need convincing why routine might be the enemy then watch this fab little short film below.