I am training for my first two 100m rides, after having had a kidney transplant (which is failing) and a heart attack. I am 47 and have never felt fitter. The determination to succeed at being as healthy as I can is what drives me, bearing in mind that just two years ago I was also three stone heavier. Explore what you can do, go out there and make a start, and enjoy your journey; this is about achieving something for yourself.

Submitted by R C Armstrong-Buisseret.

You can go further than you think

In December 2016, my life caved in. Facing new physical and mental health challenges, I felt like I’d lost everything. Except, I still had my bike.

I started cycling everyday – come rain or shine – even if it was just around the block or the local park. It got me out of the house with a purpose, it got me exercising, it got my endorphins racing, it built my confidence, it built my self-esteem. It helped me get my life back.

Fast forward to July 2017, and the woman who couldn’t get out of bed seven months before ended up completing her first Century Ride. Now I’m part of a great cycling club, getting to know my local community, and planning a solo bike tour for next year.

If things seem impossible, change your perspective – a bike ride is a good place to start.

Submitted by Emma – follow her on Instagram.

Mind and body

No matter your shape or size do not ever let this hold you back or prevent you trying an outdoor sport/activity.

Your only limits will be those imposed by your mind. Never let the negative chimp win! After completing a run, ride or route you will feel fantastic. Don’t let fear or perceived weakness/inadequacy stop you.

Finally, remember, no one will be looking at you and judging you anything like as harshly as you judge yourself!!

Submitted by Kath Goodey – follow her on Instagram.

Yoga Enhancement to Sport

How yoga enhancement has helped my quadrathlon training?

I got talked into going to my first Ashtanga Yoga class by my daughter Lucy. She hadn’t passed her driving test, was home from University and she was missing her weekly yoga fix. I am a fit Quadrathlete (swim, kayak, bike run) who trains hard, a keen gym goer, regular to Pilates and Stretch classes, plus a coach in fitness classes, triathlon and kayaking. I thought it would be easy and that I would be quite good at it… How wrong I was!

I was humbled to find myself struggling with the poses and not as flexible as I thought, couldn’t balance and I wasn’t even sure this was going to be enjoyable every week! However my daughter (completely hooked) convinced me, I would improve and it would help my training if I continued. As a veteran athlete, any small gains are worth it, and she did need a lift every week so I decided to persevere!

It was after about 6 weeks I started to notice how yoga had begun to enhance my training. My body felt more flexible, loosening tight muscles after intense training sessions allowing my body to move more smoothly in my four disciplines.

Practicing the postures encourages me to use full range of motion, which again helps with my flexibility. The standing poses are especially good for strengthening and stabilizing the muscles of the lower leg whilst stretching the hip muscles, this combination will hopefully lead to greater power and strength. I still struggle with the single leg standing poses, but I hope to improve my breathing and use my breath to find my inner strength to enable me to balance better.

I have a strong core due to years of training, but since starting yoga I certainly now feel I have a much greater awareness of how important it is, to engage these muscles whilst performing in my various disciplines. I feel my swimming has become much stronger as I’m flatter, smoother and longer enabling my body to glide through the water more efficiently. Whilst kayaking, I hold my core strong and back straight, improving my rotation giving me more power as I pull the paddle through the water. Whilst in an aero position on the bike, drawing my shoulders down my back and engaging the core, enables me to keep strong in a horizontal position. This lets me push more power through the glutes and quad muscles giving me a strong fluid bike ride. The final discipline is the run, where flexibility and strength in the hamstrings and hip flexors are key to a good performance.
Engaging and releasing the hamstring muscles through concentric and eccentric contractions, which we do in many of our poses has certainly helped fire my hamstrings to perform better. I’ve noticed these improvements whilst running up and down hills when they are under much more stress. All these are big positives from my Ashtanga class, which I can feel in my body, posture and performance.

I still have many more steps to improve beyond the physical flexibility and strength. The aspect I still find difficult is the breathing, the letting go, the visualization and the concentration of the mind. Being an endurance athlete you need all these mental strengths, I am hoping to be able to improve these, so it will help me focus more and keep calm in the long challenging events where my body is pushed beyond its limits.

My daughter Lucy has now passed her driving test and doesn’t need a lift, but I feel it has now become an important part of my training regime. I feel the gains are already enhancing my training and with my race season about to start any improvements have got to be a bonus, especially as a veteran athlete!

Submitted by Jean Ashley – GB Quadrathlon Team.

PTSD Relief

Having recently been diagnosed with PTSD, I have been prescribed road cycling, mountain biking and hiking by my psychiatrist. When I’m outdoors in the fresh air I feel as if the veil of darkness that clouds my day is completely lifted. When I’m alone cycling or hiking I’m relaxed which subconsciously gives my brain chance to process my memories which aides the PTSD recovery process. If you know anyone who is silently suffering please drag them outside for something as simple as a walk, it works wonders.

Submitted by an anonymous but marvellous man.

You won’t know if you don’t try

You will be surprised at what you’re capable of if you allow yourself to be fully immersed in different experiences. An opportunity might seem scary or unfamiliar to begin with, but trust yourself as you jump in wholeheartedly. You will only grow greater if you try in the first place.

Submitted by Rachel Gibson – follow her on Instagram.

Wilderness Therapy

Journey inside, outside with IPSE Wilderness. Inspire yourself, prove yourself, serve yourself, empower yourself by taking part in a therapeutic walking pilgrimage for women.

We guide groups through different landscapes and moods, relishing the simplicity and freedom of a slow-paced walking journey with a shared purpose; to find well-being in life. We give time and space to de-tech, de-stress, de-contextualise and enjoy quiet immersion in nature, dropping into a softer rhythm of life where peace, joy and self-actualisation can be accessed. We use counselling skills, co-listening structures, meditative practices and sharing circles to help you to open up and speak their truth with honesty and integrity. We build isomorphic connections between the features of the physical landscape, and the emotional landscape of the participants, creating resonances which can generate insight and clarity. We create empowered, strongly-bonded groups which support you to walk the talk, enacting change in life back in the real world.

Submitted by Julia Gillick – follow Julia on Twitter or visit IPSE’s website or follow them on Facebook.

Invest in you

It’s easy to be put off making the initial leap into an outdoor activity by the cost of kit. Think of it as an investment in you. I spent a fair amount of money on a wetsuit, socks, gloves, tow float, hat, in order to start going wild swimming. It is without a doubt, the best money I have ever spent. I feel happier, healthier and more in control of my life than I can ever remember.

Submitted by Diane Cannon – follow her on Instagram.

You are capable, you are strong enough.

There is always a mental block for women in the initial stages of participating in something that is male-led. Just sack off that feeling of anxiety – you are capable and you are strong enough. You’ll never build on yourself if you don’t take opportunities that challenge you. The Great Outdoors is amazing for your physical side, but even better mentally and emotionally. You’d be surprised at how far you can push yourself and how much it ends up improving your life indoors!

Submitted by an anonymous but wonderful woman in adventure.

Embrace being a beginner

Women are very very often shy about their achievements, trying to stay in the background, “happier” in the role of a support team for whoever is trying to achieve success.

From my professional experience from working in personal development, I realised that very accomplished women – mothers, managers often undermine their achievements or are not sure about trying something new. This is especially difficult in the outdoor arena since participating in a lot of these sports would mean being the only girl on the trip.

Advice to you all out there (and I surely have to take it in big time): just go for it. Embrace the stage of being a beginner. For once, let your partner support YOU on a sports endeavour. Take time for yourself. Go for it. Give yourself pep talks, breathe in and out and go for it. Life truly does begin at the end of the zone where everything is doable, but doing something that seems super scary will give you more confidence, will help you grow, will help you become a better partner, parent, employee, woman.

Just…. GO for it and know you have the support of all of us! xoxo, K.

Submitted by Katarina Mulec – visit her website or follow her on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.