You’ve researched your route. You’ve read up on other’s experiences and whilst doing so gotten very very excited. You managed to make time to take yourself off and scout the route solo. You’ve got a fantastic group of friends together who have a growing enthusiasm for hiking and mountains. Accommodation booked and all you need to do is wait. As the date nears you start watching the forecasts leading up and crossed your fingers it’s going to get better… and watch some more… and it doesn’t.
This is basically what happened to me recently. A decent sized group of us were heading to the Lake District for a weekend of walking, with the highlight being taking on Helvellyn during one of the longest heatwaves the UK has seen for years. Yet, the one weekend we had organised this for the weather decided to take a break and revert back to stereotypical UK summertime wet weather. Just for that weekend mind you and conditions ended up being questionable at best. I’m quite certain we could have set out and reached the summit, however, I’m not certain at all it would not have been dangerous. It was a large group, Helvellyn is very exposed, the winds were forecasted to be high and if nothing else the cloud was so low any hope of views were dashed. I made the difficult call to shelve the Helvellyn for another day. The risks were just that little bit too much to place on the group, with very little reward were we to try…
We ended up having a suitably fun day heading off around the Langdale Valley. We still got wet, very wet, at one point but at no point were we in danger… just uncomfortable. Yet the views and landmarks more than made up for that brief period of dampness! More than once I started second guessing my decision but during that short period of heavy rain, I was very glad we kept to the lowlands. As I reflected more on this particular part of what was a truly memorable and enjoyable weekend I felt I could apply the same thinking pattern to a more personal level.
Now and again, whilst volunteering as a Trek Master, I have to console someone about their challenge coming to a premature end. It sounds cliche but I will remind them there are ALWAYS more challenges… on any given weekend you can find walks, obstacle courses and runs all over the country… this challenge, on this day, is not the only opportunity to meet your goals and achieve something special. However, to allow yourself to be pushed too far may mean dire consequences for any future challenge attempt.
Right now, as I write this, I have a minor muscular injury. A slightly sprained hamstring where I’m having to have more rest then I would like. I have a half marathon to train for, and several 10k races before then. I really really want to be out clocking up the miles, especially when I see many others from my running club doing just that. I’ve already had to miss one of this year’s Ultra Events as a Trek Master that was happening right after I got the initial injury a couple of weeks ago… but again, I have to repeat it to myself, there will be more challenges, there WILL be more chances to push my limits and improve my abilities.
It’s important to keep those things, that energy, that drive us in check. I really do look to live with the acceptance we have limited time here, and at any point, that time can be cruelly shortened or taken away altogether. But like all things, there is a balance to maintain. Sometimes, just sometimes, you need to let go of that drive hit pause for a short while. One thing I’ve found is instead using the time to not only rest but to revisit old hobbies or even better volunteer on things like Parkrun or other events happening around you.
Also, use the time to grow other skills that may help you later, read some books from other more experienced walkers, runners, hikers or athletes… and perhaps most importantly, take a little time to reflect on how much you HAVE done, not what you’re going to miss. One of my very best bits of advice on walks is always to take a little time to look back at how far you’ve come… the energy you get from taking in how much you’ve already achieved will go a long way to power you through to so much more…