“The mountains are calling, and I must go.” John Muir
The immortal words of John Muir have echoed through my life from an early age, yet as time and life went on I was taken away from them and pursued a life in the British Army. It was on a solo training trip to the Brecon Beacons that I had a moment, a glint of the joy of being outdoors. I was on Fan Fawr heading West towards Fan Grynch, heavy bag on and moving fast; it was only then that I stopped and sat on my rucksack to soak in the majesty around me. The rolling peaks of the Black Mountains in all directions bathed in an orange glow of the March sun. I felt instantly at home; this landscape was not something I could forget or ignore.
The freedom of the mountains and the raw, simple adventure that is inherent with mountain running needed to be a larger part of my life. I had to say YES to every opportunity I could to get out and explore far away trails, technical trails and mountain peaks, travelling light and travelling fast. Running requires very little investment - do you have something to put on your feet? Then you’re good to go. Saying YES to mountain trail running was easy.
I have learned so much through this journey, from saying YES to world class technical mountain running races, to long distance solo epics throughout the Scottish Highlands.
“Mountains are the reason I started to run. To me, mountain running is the epitome of adventure, freedom and raw human movement.” Ben Turner
Fast technical terrain requires deep focus, you become blinkered on the trail ahead. Nothing else matters - and it is this focus that creates a sense of freedom from the usual mind chatter. When you stop to look around, you are surrounded by nothing by rock, sky, cloud and sometimes water. It’s this single-minded focus that helps you get a completely different perspective on life, and to let go of those niggling thoughts that can end up occupying too much of our waking life.
Saying YES to immersing yourself in the mountains is not all sunshine and Instagram moments! The mountains will give you the elements that they want, not what's forecast, and certainly not what you expect. But somehow, they give you what you deserve. You can find magic in even the wettest and windiest of days!
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”. Wayne Dyer
This statement rings true on multiple levels; the weather isn’t really that awful, it just presents a new challenge which can test your character in a way that a sunny day might not. But the mountains are not impenetrable - they’re opportunities for you to grow and develop, and above all, they must be treated with respect and enjoyed responsibly.
Attitude and the mountains have a unique relationship - if you’re over confident, you will be batted down. If you are apprehensive, your character and judgement will be tested and developed. If you bring knowledge, that will be tested and developed over and over.
Respect the mountains, they will treat and test you; abuse them, and they have the power to kill you.
When I say YES to running in the mountains, my aim is never to conquer the mountain, but to become closer to the world. This then shows you how to conquer your own mountains.
“Go to the mountains to conquer your own mountain.” Ben Turner
The opportunities that I have said YES to, and the journeys I have been on, have inspired me to show others to pursue their own journeys too, to redefine what is perceived as possible, and ultimately, to conquer their own mountains. I do this through Athlete Adventure, my platform for all things adventure fitness. Here I publish stories of my athlete adventures around the world and show people how anything is possible with the right head, the right goals and the right help.
What’s Next? On the 22nd October 2018 I will be embarking on my next challenge, to run 16 Marathons I 16 Days in 16 National Parks while shedding light on the initiatives that will help to get younger people outside.
Click on the link to my website below and sign up to Athlete Adventure - this will give you access to my three part video series about how to improve and progress with your wildest adventures.
REDEFINE YOUR POSSIBLE!
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