Adventures are for everyone

I believe that adventures are for everyone. Yet people tell me all sorts of reasons why they don’t or can’t have adventures in their lives.

wild flowers in background with text that says adventures are for everyone

What’s stopping YOU from leading a life of adventure?

The most common reasons people give me are:

  • I’m too old, my adventuring days are long gone
  • I’m not fit / strong / co-ordinated enough
  • I don’t have enough money
  • I’ve got too much pain
  • I’m too scared to do adventurous things
  • I don’t have time
  • I don’t have the energy
  • It looks too hard
  • I can’t leave my children / partner / dependants / pets
  • I can’t have time off work
  • My health won’t allow me
  • I don’t know anyone else who would want to do it
  • I’ll wait till I feel motivated

Acknowledge the obstacles but don’t let excuses paralyse you

people having a picnic on a grassy road verge with bicycles lying down on the grass
Don’t let your fears and lack of confidence stop you from having adventures in life

These are all legitimate issues that need to be acknowledged and talked about. But it’s vital you don’t stop there with simply talking or whingeing. You see, the thing is that whingeing can turn into excuses. Excuses can turn into paralysis because you can’t see a way forward. Being stuck in a rut is no fun and the downward spiral can be terrifying.

The excuses that have paralysed me

I’m writing this post, not only because I’m a mental health social worker and it’s my job to share information that improves your wellbeing. I’m also a human being and I know what it’s like to be sick and in pain and to care for dependants who are sick and in pain. I’ve spent 29 years as a stay at home Mum prioritising my children’s needs above all else, working part-time jobs and building a business around them as they grew up. I know what it’s like to be sleep deprived, devoid of energy, overwhelmed and scared. I’ve often been geographically isolated from friends and didn’t want to go along to activities on my own. Money, fitness and skill have definitely been obstacles to enjoying adventures. And as I get older I’ve had those thoughts of “Hmmm….am I too old for this? Will I hurt myself? Does anyone else my age do this?”

Learn to manage the obstacles

So I’m not anyone special when it comes to adventures. I don’t have any superpowers, and I don’t have any magic fixes but I have learned a lot about the link between mental health and an adventurous mindset. By learning to manage my obstacles I’ve stepped into another world of excitement, confidence and hopefulness and I’d like to share my ideas with you so that you can too. My way of managing my obstacles and excuses may not work for you. After all, we’re all different, so you’ll need to spend some time experimenting to see what works for you.

Are you open to the possibility of adventure? And all the benefits that go with it? Read my blog post about Why You Need To Have An Adventure Goal

Getting past your obstacles

You’ll need to think creatively about your obstacles, those things that get in the way of you having adventures in life. Thinking about the problems in the same old way you always have probably won’t get you anywhere. A great place to start is rethinking your ideas about exactly what an adventure is.

Adventures DON’T have to be physically demanding!

Let’s get the definition straight here – adventures DON’T have to be physically demanding, world record-breaking feats although that’s what we generally think of when we hear the word. These sorts of activities make for dramatic headlines but there’s much more to an adventurous life than that.

Adventures stretch you outside your comfort zone

An adventure is anything you do that challenges yourself in some way. It usually involves an element of RISK (eg physical, emotional or social) and stretches you OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE either a little bit or a lot – and that’s different for everyone. If it makes you feel nervous or excited and is outside your comfort zone, then it’s an adventure! How cool is that! No comparisons with anyone else (or your younger self) shall be entered into! So, no matter your age, gender, time available or what other responsibilities you have in life, there’s a suitable adventure waiting for you.

Every single day is chock full of opportunities for you to choose your own adventure. So let’s get going!

Choose your own adventure!

people looking up at a waterfall
Hiking to a waterfall is a favourite outdoor adventure

We’ve established that adventures don’t have to be crazy headlining stunts, and that there are opportunities in our everyday lives to experience adventure. Now it’s time to discover some adventures that are just right for you – no matter your age, fitness level, areas of interest or ability. Remember, you need to choose your adventures based on what makes you feel a bit excited or nervous and that’s slightly outside your comfort zone. So grab a notepad and pen, and as you read through the list below, allow yourself to be inspired to create a list of adventures you’d consider taking on this year.

Social Adventures

Contact an old friend
Join a club or social group
Invite someone over for a cuppa
Go to a class and learn a new skill
Connect with an online group
Research your family history
Volunteer at an event or fundraiser
Organise an outing with friends
Meet a friend at a cafe
Go to a conference or community event
Go to a festival you haven’t been to before
Organise a meet-up of extended family, friends or colleagues
Throw a party or have a family picnic

Physical Adventures

Learn a new sport
Join a sporting or exercise club or group
Climb a mountain
Go on a multi-day hike
Try white water rafting
Enter a race
Participate in a charity walk
Explore a National Park
Take up a new hobby

Spiritual and Cultural Adventures

Go to a meditation class
Take up a daily mindfulness practice
Visit a new place
Travel to a place that speaks a foreign language or volunteer with an ESL (English as a second language) class
Eat at a restaurant that serves food you are not familiar with
Prepare a meal using ingredients you don’t usually use
Plant and nurture a garden
Visit a place of worship that you are not familiar with
Help a charity

Mental Adventures

Join a chess or card club
Make or create something new or from repurposed materials
Teach yourself a new skill (eg crochet, painting, whittling, programming, video editing)
Experiment to create your own recipes or designs
Set up an online business
Take a class or sign up to a course
Get a new hobby that uses your brain in new ways
Become a mentor for a new worker
Write a book or start a blog

art and craft materials spread out on a table
Creative adventures can include art and craft at home or at a workshop

What inspired and do-able adventures have you written down on your list?

I’d love to know! Send me a message.

Be your own boss and get that adventure started!

And now it’s time to get started – be your own boss and take the actions you need to sprinkle an adventure or two into your life today.

Daisy Spoke avatar has long curly hair and smiling mouth

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

Frights, Flights, and Fears: Look back to see how far you’ve come

Daisy Spoke Banner

Life can hand us plenty of frights, flights and fears but it’s good to look back occasionally to see how far you’ve come. I’ve been reflecting on this over the weekend when I noticed some old fears resurfacing, and rather than get caught up in the stories they told me, I chose to look at how far I’ve progressed.

I was eager to get back on my mountain bike after a couple of weeks away road tripping, bushwalking and trail running which I absolutely loved, but I also love riding my bike and Kathryn on MTB riding through a gullywas missing it. When I started riding on the weekend, I noticed some of those old worries pop up that only surface when I’ve been off my bike for a while. They used to hang around me a lot. Well actually, most of the time! But I’ve worked really hard at keeping them in their place in recent years. Deciding to blog about them has been one of the most empowering actions I’ve taken. They could no longer lurk away in the dark depths of my mind, stewing and multiplying and expanding by the minute. Many of them simply lost their power when I brought them out into the light of day. Have you read my blog about how I worked through a step-by-step process to manage my fear of “the scary corner”!

So here I was on Sunday morning with an incessant barrage of inner talk going on in my head:

“That’s too slippery.”

“I can’t ride down that gully.”

I’m going to hit that tree.”

I’m hopeless at riding on ‘technical’ terrain.”

My back tyre keeps slipping out. I can’t ride up here.”

There are too many rocks.”

There are too many low hanging branches.”

I have to go slowly round this corner so I don’t fall off.”

I’d better walk this bit.”

That’s where I fell before.”

That’s another place I fell off.”

That’s where I nearly fell on the snake when I stopped too quickly and went over the handlebars.”

..and so on and so on. It was very loud in my head!

NOW I want to say that the most powerful step YOU can take if you find yourself in a similar situation is simply this: NOTICE what’s going on in your head. Simply NOTICE. The situation doesn’t’ have to be about riding a bike. It might be the thoughts you have associated with speaking to an audience, introducing yourself to someone, going out in the dark, driving in the city traffic, swimming with sharks, flying on a plane, or absolutely anything at all! Simply NOTICE what your mind says. And with the power of noticing what’s going on in your head, you can then choose what to do next.

Kathryn looking calm and happy on her rideI’ve been practising and teaching this technique for a lot of years, and yet still I sometimes forget to do it when the moment arises. The thing is that on Sunday morning I DID NOTICE those fearful thoughts bouncing round my head. And guess what? I didn’t care about them. I didn’t let them bother me. Instead of giving them the power of my attention and allowing them to expand and bully me into playing it too safe, I chose to dig up another thought from my mind vault:

This is a confidence cycle. I only worry about these things when I’ve been off my bike for a couple of weeks and out of practice. Just ride. Focus on how far you’ve come over the past few years. Don’t let those worries bully you or keep you small, or limit the fun you’ll have today. You’re sensible. You won’t do any crazy dangerous stuff. You’re safe. Just ride.”

And so I focused on how strong I felt and that all the recent running has made a positive difference to my strength and aerobic fitness. I enjoyed the feeling of sprinting up a couple "Tough Girl" socksof short hills engaging my quads in an exertion that a couple of years ago would have been painful (if not impossible)! I pedalled in a higher gear than normal and found it easier than expected. I noticed what I did well and trusted wholeheartedly that my confidence will be back real soon. I glanced down at my fabulous new “tough girl” socks reminding myself of my strengths and the stories I can tell myself about what I CAN do. And as I looked back over the past few years, I could see how far I’ve progressed in managing my fears on the bike. I’ve developed resilience and practised some of life’s most valuable skills that I’ve transferred into other areas of my life.

Yes, frights, flights and fears will always be there, but you can choose how to handle them. Practise. Persist. And occasionally look back to see how far you’ve come.

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full. 

8 Strategies for Handling Unease During an Adventure

Daisy Spoke BannerHaving been on the road with my daughter now for over a week on my April Adventure road trip throughout central, northern and western Queensland, and heading north through the Northern Territory to Darwin, I’ve managed to settle in and really enjoy myself despite feeling unprepared and unorganised when we started. I’ve fairly easily challenged some of my underlying fears and assumptions about travel including leaving half my family behind, not researching details about the route and destinations, not planning my return flight home when I leave my daughter in the tropical north to start her new job, being female and camping in out-of-the-way places and driving on remote roads, and the list goes on. 

View from car windscreen

My latest challenge came only last night. Arriving at Elsey National Park near Mataranka I felt somewhat unsettled. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was about. The environment was not like any I’d spent time in before. It looked like a combination of wetlands and dry scrub with earth that appeared to be recently wet with rain but had since dried to a fine powder as silt does after a flood. There was a plethora of wildlife. The insects were very diverse, big and plentiful. I saw some grasshoppers that reminded me of the vivid yellow plastic toy grasshoppers you can buy in cheap toy packs from the dollar stores. The sounds of the bush here also seemed strange and haunting. I couldn’t tell the difference between bird and insect calls, or perhaps even other animals yet unseen. It was eerily quiet with only one other campsite inhabited by humans and the campgrounds extended well beyond sight in every direction. The facilities buildings were half fenced off and I was curious about this but couldn’t think of any rational reason why they would be fenced in this unusual way. 

We decided on a campsite with some shade, green grass and a picnic table, andCampsite at Elsey NP before we even set up camp we had a short walk around the area. A sudden loud rustle in the bushes next to us startled me. Turning around and expecting to see a wallaby, my daughter tells me I wouldn’t want to know what made that noise. On further enquiry she tells me it was a rather large snake, and I began to seriously wonder about moving our campsite further away from said snake. 

Roper River, Elsey NPMy uneasiness only increased as the evening rolled on and in particular when we came face to face with another snake only a few metres from our tents. Still, I wandered why the uneasiness was there in the first place. Was I sensing a spiritual presence? Was it simply that everything seemed strange and unfamiliar? Or perhaps the absence of other humans? Was I simply tired and misreading my intuition? Was it FEAR welling up and testing my inner strength? 

But how to handle this uneasiness? I decided to take some of my own advice and implemented these strategies:

  1. I chose to “be” with my uneasiness. I acknowledged how I truly felt instead of denying or avoiding it. 
  2. I shared my feelings and concerns with my daughter, getting them out into the open instead of hiding them away and pretending they didn’t exist as I would have in the past. 
  3. I listened and looked, tuning into my surroundings in the present time, focusing on grounding myself to the moment rather than flying off into a fantastical and irrational anxiety about what might happen. 
  4. I set an intention to be open to possibilities and new experiences. Instead of being closed-minded and putting up barriers to enjoying myself, I chose to embrace the experience and adopt an adventurous mindset. 
  5. I intentionally invoked a relaxation response when I noticed my anxiety rising. I brought my attention to my breath and let go of the physical tension that I felt. 
  6. I used rational and logical self-talk such as “Just because I’ve seen a snake (or two) close to camp doesn’t mean I’m in any greater danger than if I hadn’t seen them”; “Not all snakes are deadly”; “We have a snake bandage on us at all times and an emergency signalling system if we need to use it”; 
  7. I immersed myself in the sounds of the night as I went to sleep, setting an intention of getting to know them better; an intention of curiosity, wonder and awe. 
  8. I also created an action to take during the night that however irrational it was, it really helped! It may seem funny to anyone else, and in fact it does to me now too! Whenever I stirred during the night and noticed that I’d rolled off my camping mattress or that I was touching the sides of the tent, I rolled back onto the mattress telling myself I can go to sleep safely now because no snake can bite me through the mattress even if does manage to slither its way under my tent!

Kathryn at Elsey NPAnd so I survived. In fact I thrived and had possibly the best sleep so far on my April Adventure. I awoke before dawn, spent a couple of hours silently meditating, embracing my surroundings and feeling entirely captivated by what seemed so haunting and difficult the day before. I feel an immense sense of satisfaction that I didn’t allow my anxiety to rule and limit me. I chose to respect it but also to stand up to it. In doing so I’ve come to know an amazing spiritual aspect of this sacred land which I may not ever understand, but I can accept it and embrace it. And when I do that, I also accept and embrace myself. 

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full. 

 

 

 

7 Step Action Plan to Conquer Scary Stuff (Part 2)

In Part 1 I explained how I used a 7 Step Action Plan to conquer an irrational fear I had about riding “the scary corner” on my mountain bike. While everybody else seemed to effortlessly glide round the corner at speed and then over or around the craggy rocks as they exited on an uphill slope, I’d turn to hike-a-bike mode. I had previously ridden this corner, but somehow the fear escalated and made me feel very small and incapable.

The Scary Corner is quite photogenic! It really doesn’t look so scary here!

The same 7 Step Action Plan that I used to conquer my fear on “the scary corner” can be applied to other scenarios in ordinary everyday life. Here’s how…..

First of all, what is it that’s got your heart pumping, your mind racing and your stomach churning? Maybe going to a meeting or party where you’re not sure if you know anyone? Going in a lift? Making a phone call that you’ve been dreading? Or something else? Let’s apply the 7 Step Action Plan to your situation:

  1. Walk it through

Think it through calmly. Maybe talk it through with someone. Stay rational, logical and reasonable.

  1. “Is anything missing?”

Are there skills or equipment that will help you be successful? For example, learn how to make small talk, have a dot point list in front of you, play music through your headphones.

  1. Make modifications – physical and / or psychological

Would it help to ask a friend to accompany you, place your chair near the exit, or use the phone on speaker so your hands are free?

  1. Identify your focus

Refocus your attention on what you want to happen, where you want to go, what you want to say, how you want to feel. The scary thoughts or feelings will keep popping up, but don’t give them the attention they are seeking. Keep refocusing.

  1. Practise your exit

Have an exit plan. If things get too much, what will you say, what will you do, where will you go? Knowing there’s a safe and valid way out brings a greater sense of ease and improves your rate of success.

  1. Make your entrance!

This is where you just do it. Every thing’s in place. You have a plan. Trust it. Trust yourself. What’s the worst that could happen now?

  1. Celebrate your growth

Your reward for stepping up to the challenge my be felt internally with a surge of relief or confidence. Or perhaps you’d like to reward yourself in another way.

Remember, everyone feels nervous about something at least some of the time. It’s a normal mechanism designed to keep us safe, but if it’s keeping you small, then it’s time to do something about it. If your nervousness is impacting heavily on your functioning or contributing to ill-health, you can seek support from your GP to access counselling. Counselling is a bit like having a coach provide step-by-step guidelines and support as you learn new skills to achieve your goals.

7 Step Action Plan to Conquer Scary Stuff (Part 1)

I knew I was physically capable of doing it, I’d done it several times in the past. So what was getting in the way of me ACTUALLY doing it NOW??? Over a period of a few months, the idea of riding “the scary corner” on my bike loomed bigger and scarier and I felt worse and worse. I don’t know what had changed in my mind – nothing had changed on the trail, so I figured it was some sort of powerful intra-psychic voodoo playing with my confidence and keeping me feeling small and pathetic. I couldn’t even blame it on a fall or anything like that!

After much soul searching, I made the commitment to myself that I was going to conquer the fear that had irrationally built up in my mind. I really wanted to take charge of my fearful thoughts which seemed to be controlling my actions. It was as if my own thoughts were bullying me. The longer it went on, the worse it became. I knew that if I could get this sorted, I’d be able to transfer the skills and processes to other situations that make me nervous and better manage them as well.

So here’s the 7 Step Action Plan that helped me overcome my fear of riding “the scary corner”:

  1. Walk it through

That’s right. The first thing I did was leave the bike behind, put on my sports shoes, and simply walk the corner – repeatedly! I familiarised myself with every stone, stick and slope. I walked it forwards and backwards. I looked at it from every possible angle. “The scary corner” and myself got to know each other well, and we gradually became friends!

  1. “Is anything missing?”

By getting down close and personal with the scary corner I was able to see that there was, in fact, nothing in it that I couldn’t ride. Tight left bend – check. Six inch drop over a rock – check. Angle of slope – check. Width of trail – not a problem. Nope ….. I wasn’t missing any particular skills apart from the ability to curb the fantastic stories my mind was creating about how scary the corner is! And as for equipment, well my bike is well maintained and more than capable of negotiating this terrain.

The Scary Corner is quite photogenic! It really doesn’t look so scary here!
  1. Make modifications – physical and / or psychological

I’d been noticing that other people often lowered their seats when descending. I also noticed my own urge to get my weight lower and further back on similar corners on other trails. So, I lowered my saddle and instantly felt a lot more secure about my body position on rough descending trails. This triggered a whole new attitude of positivity and hopefulness.

  1. Identify your focus

    Keep your eyes on the sticks, NOT the cactus or the steep slope or the rocks!

Our eyes are naturally drawn towards danger. It’s a protective mechanism which sometimes backfires on us. Mountain biking is often counter-intuitive. If you focus on the obstacle, that’s where you’ll go. To help train my eye away from the steep slope, rocks and trees that I wanted to avoid as I approached the corner, I lined the ground on the right side with small twigs to act as a visual aid (a bit like the white line marking on the road). Then I walked the trail again and again, practising keeping my eye on the twigs and not looking at the stuff I wanted to avoid!

  1. Practise your exit
Practise the technical parts of the exit – keep on track, get over the drop-off, & time your peddling to get past the craggy rocks as you go back uphill!

I now began to think about actually riding the corner. But there were a couple of tricky parts and I noticed a feeling welling up inside me – the fear of getting halfway round the corner then getting trapped because I mightn’t be able to exit properly. I visualised myself falling off on the rocks and knocking my head on a tree as I tumbled down the slope and through the prickly pear. So, I needed to do something to allay my concerns. I set to work practising my exit skills on “the scary corner”. Repeatedly I walked my bike halfway round the corner so I could ride the second half of it only, over the drop-off and carefully navigate between the large protruding rocks, timing my pedal strokes just right so that I didn’t knock myself off. This built a lot more confidence and eliminated a few of the scary factors that had been distracting me.

  1. Make your entrance!

    A short steep downhill section between and over the rocks forms the entry to the sharp-ish left hand corner.

Well now that I knew I had it all together in my head and that I could physically do it, all that was left was to make my entrance. Get down low and go, go, go! I think I even remembered to breathe, and suddenly I’d done it! In a brief second or two, I’d successfully navigated “the scary corner” and wondered what all the fuss had been about!

  1. Celebrate your growth

It may seem trivial to other people, and you may be the only one who truly knows what your achievement means to you. But don’t let that stop you from learning, practising, growing, and celebrating. Whatever your style – whoop out loud to the universe, punch the air, pat yourself on the back, or maybe even write a blog about it!

What things make you feel nervous? Maybe going to a meeting or party where you’re not sure if you know anyone? Going in a lift? Making a phone call that you’ve been dreading? How might the 7 Step Action Plan help you to conquer your fear or change a behaviour habit?

Read my next blog post about applying the 7 Step Action Plan to some “everyday scenarios” that commonly get our nerves going and our minds racing.

 

Mountain Biking is my Parallel Universe! (Part 2)

Life is unpredictable, and so is mountain biking!

This is another life lesson that I’ve been reflecting on over the past few months as I’ve challenged myself in “My MTB Experiment”. My hypothesis was that I’d reconnect with the fun side of mountain biking by getting out on my bike more often, and so far it’s been proving itself correct!

One of my discoveries has been that those things that freak me out on the trails (you know those things …. normal everyday features of nature like stones, sticks, tree roots, mud, sand and dust) really aren’t so bad after all. Sure they’ll always be there and I can’t do much about that, but I can change the way I react.

It happens that these trail features have led me to feeling like I lack control of my bike, and I’ve actually fallen off a few times over the past few months and hurt myself. A few bruises and scratches and scrapes here and there is all part of the fun, like collecting souvenirs on a holiday. But then there was a chest injury from a heavy impact fall when I fell on a rotting tree stump, and a suspected broken toe from another tree stump. I don’t like falling off and I don’t like hurting myself. It’s scary, and ….. well, hurt-y! And it stops me getting back out exercising at my preferred intensity for WAY TOO LONG afterwards!

Recently, as I’ve focused my attention on my body position whilst riding, I’ve become more mindful of my whole self. I’ve become more aware of my self in space, my thoughts, body feedback, and internal reactions when encountering unpredictable elements on trail rides. I’ve found that I’ve had time and space to take a breath in between noticing what’s going on and responding. With this time and space, I’ve been better able to choose my response rather than simply reacting in an instinctive way. So, for example, as my back wheel slips sideways because a stone has kicked out from underneath, I’ve been able to breathe and stay calm, keep my weight low and centred and focus on steering myself in the direction I want to go, and I know that my back wheel will follow me.

Dealing with unpredictable trail features has also helped me to deal better with the unpredictable nature of life in general. I’ve noticed that when various unexpected things have happened in life recently, I’ve been able to keep going calmly in the direction I choose, holding onto my power and control, refusing to be thrown by situations that I can’t control.

BUT ….. I CAN control MY own responses. And that’s where the real power is!

Happy Mountain Biking!

 

Mountain Biking is my Parallel Universe! (Part 1)

“Just relax!” The words are easily spoken ….. but how easy is it for you to do?

I seem to learn all sorts of lessons about life on my MTB and vice versa. I have some trouble relaxing at the best of times, and this is definitely evident on my bike as well. I hold my upper body quite tense. I’m easily spooked by rocks and sticks on the trail especially when the ground is dry and slippery like it has been this season until a couple of weeks ago when we got some beautiful rain that stuck the dust together. I get freaked out by tight corners and steep descents. All of these things are pretty common features on a trail ride so you can begin to imagine how tense I am by the end!

So lately I’ve been practising keeping my upper body more relaxed on my bike. I’ve especially been trying to increase my awareness of my body position on the easier green trails so that when I ride the more challenging trails, I’m better prepared because of all the practising. I think it’s not only helped me to handle the trails a bit better, but also helped my shoulder and chest injury, as well as helped me to relax a bit more in other areas of my life. What a bonus!

 

“Be Prepared” to learn anything!

croppedpurpledaisies

Be prepared” – a familiar and valuable motto in life that I first came to know through my involvement in the Guiding and Scouting movements as a young person. Little did I know back then that as an adult I would still be learning lessons based on those 2 simple words.

After signing up for my very first mountain bike event recently, I threw myself into Preparation Phase. I knew I had my work cut out for me to get race-ready. I was worried about being incompetent on the course, exhausted before the end of the event, and scared of the technical sections and the race experience in general. But … I was up for the challenge and immersed myself in a process which smoothed the path and built up layers of skill, excitement and confidence.

mtb-kw

My preparation plan was more than a physical training plan. Sure, it included some much needed skills training and practice, enduran ce training, trialling nutrition options, and ensuring plenty of hydration and sleep in the lead up to the event. However, being aware that my mental preparation was also in dire need of attention (note the above references to being worried and scared!), I had a serious examination of my inner voices, then developed a plan to optimise them. I wanted my head to work for me not against me. My experience with mountain biking so far had highlighted just how critical and limiting I can be towards myself and this was definitely not helpful at all. I needed to find a way to deal with that before I could even get myself onto a race course – literally!

So, my mental preparation plan included:

  • Learning to speak to myself in encouraging ways
  • Developing a growth mind set (the modern term for having an attitude of flexibility, openness, readiness to learn, readiness to ask questions as opposed to a closed mindset in which skills are considered innate)
  • Challenging my urge to perfectly accomplish any task I attempt the first time and to implement my skills in persistence instead
  • Setting a race goal for myself that is aligned with my values and conducive to a constructive mindset
  • Getting out of my comfort zone to ask people questions about the event, technical skills training, physical training tips, nutrition, hydration etc etc
  • Reading forums and articles about women’s cycling, women’s MTB events and races, newbie racing, and dealing with race day nerves.

Actually_I_can[1]

I discovered that:

  • I can, in fact, make choices about which inner voices I listen to
  • I have the capacity to persist, practise, learn and improve
  • People enjoy sharing their knowledge and skills with others
  • I can ask questions, be heard and understood
  • Goals don’t have to be outcomes-based – I can choose to focus on the process and experience instead
  • Just about everyone else has a story to tell about being scared, worried and feeling unprepared for racing

funatthestart

So thanks Baden Powell for giving me such a great childhood foundation to build upon as an adult. I’m inspired to reflect how much I’ve learnt from what seems like a simple process of preparing for a race, but in fact goes well beyond that into all areas of my life. Bring on the next challenge! I’m prepared to discover new, exciting and surprising ways in which I can continue to learn and grow in life!

grapeleavesalwaysgrowinglearning