It’s been a while since I’ve last posted so I’ve decided to overcome my writer’s block with a few thoughts following a recent walk around Winchcombe, though this is less about the walk itself and more about getting back into positive routines.
Writing and walking are amongst a few of life’s pleasures that I’ve neglected for the last few months, largely due to stress and the subsequent dearth of energy and motivation that seems to come with it. This sort of thing creeps in all too easily, and almost unexpectedly. We felt great success in completing the Cotswold Way over the Christmas and New Year holidays. I really wanted to carry that momentum into 2018, but winter makes it far too easy to make excuses: it’s too cold, it’s too dark, it’s too wet, it’s nicer at home, it’s too hard to plan, it’s too far away.
Then my friend Will posted on Facebook that he’s training for the Frontline Walk, a 100km hike over 3 days this October, following the Western Front of World War I. The walk is in support of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, the National Charity of the British Army, and Will wants to be fit and ready for the challenge. Does anyone have any suggestions for great long walks in the area?
Lacking my own sense of motivation, I was very grateful to find someone else’s motivation to latch on to! But it’s not just about motivation – it’s about having a project, like the Cotswold Way, or a charity walk. Don’t get me wrong – a circular walks in the countryside just for pleasure is one of life’s great pleasures, but sometimes it takes just a little extra to actually get out there. It also helps to have enthusiasts around you to help buoy you up when you might not be feeling so enthusiastic about things yourself.
Fortunately I know about loads of beautiful walks in the area (it helps living in the Cotswolds!) so I suggested we meet up to do Bredon Hill that weekend (a place that’s been on my list). We’ve done a few walks since then and now have our sights set on completing the Ridgeway ahead of October (also on my list!).
I find myself more driven than ever to make hillwalking a regular part of life, and have managed to fit in a substantial walk once per week over the last few weeks. It’s given me pause to think of my own motivations for doing this, long and short term. Whereas a few months ago certain big picture goals seemed so out of reach that it was easier to stay home and focus on tackling the minutia, I now feel OK with the idea that this bigger project might take a while, and I’m eager to get started and keep it up.
- Andrew and I signed up to the British Mountaineering Council with a long term goal of eventually becoming mountain leaders. (This is part of an even longer term goal to eventually relocated to the mountains and run a campsite / walking retreat / teaching kitchen.) This obviously requires a great deal of hillwalking fitness and there’s no way around getting that besides putting in the miles! (CrossFit has definitely helped, too.)
- I’ve long been wanting to “re-engineer” my weekends. I have a great propensity to go to the max on food and cooking (and the inevitable drink that comes with it). This is “fun” but it’s not great for the waistline and is one of those cases where too much of a good thing leads to diminishing returns. My weekends need more balance.
- We have our sights set on doing the Coast to Coast walk sometime “soon” (this year?). This is a 2-week or so walk across England, wherein we’ll carry all our stuff and camp along the way.
- Shorter term I’d generally like to regain some of my fitness and extra bonus if I lose of a few pounds which would definitely help with the Coast to Coast and all sorts of things!
I’ll finish with a few top tips that I’ve employed for keeping me motivated over the last few weeks – long may it continue!
Walking motivation: how to keep coming back for more!
- Keep a pile of walking books somewhere where you’ll see them
- Make a shortlist from said walking books of walks you’d like to do
- Set aside days in your calendar for said walks
- Create an “adventure basket” (or drawer, or whatever) that contains just about everything you need for a day’s walk so it’s easy to prep (take it further by creating a “go bag” for day hikes!). Here’s a good Day Hiking Checklist to get you started.
- Set some short term goals (e.g. plan to do x number of long walks per month)
- Set some long term goals (e.g. target a long distance footpath, or a charity walk)
- Develop top notch picnic skills – I thought Andrew and I were pretty good at food but Will wowed us with his Winchcombe picnic which included Côtes du Rhône, camembert, parma ham, and sundried tomatoes.
For more on mental motivation, this post on hiking-for-her.com is interesting. She gives 3 different categories for walker attitudes – alpha hikers, followers, and individualists (with an obvious preference for the individualists!). I found it particularly interesting in the context of walking with other people, and developing an attitude for not only motivating yourself, but also motivating others. Recommended reading!
Got any top tips for walking / hiking motivation? I appreciate my current enthusiasm could be all too fleeting so any extra tips would be most welcome!