This blog comes from one of our brilliant athletes!
When my coach recently raised the issue of goals, I was at a bit of a loss – all events I’d entered had been cancelled due to COVID-19 – triathlons, cycle sportive and running races. So, when a running friend asked if anyone would be interested in joining them to run to a local peak (Shutlingsloe) to watch the sunrise on the longest day, my response was a ‘YES’, even after reading the finer details such as very early start and an uphill run. The ‘sunrise run’ provided a much-needed short term ‘goal’ and arrangements were made for a socially distanced challenge. That was it, decision made, it was a commitment to others and importantly to me. The date was set, Saturday 20th June, just like a race day, after all the longest day sunrise only occurs…on the longest day!
In terms of training, the planned ‘event’ provided a perfect goal for gradually increasing in distance. Having a goal also meant that I had to ensure I was ‘fit’, so any ‘seed of doubt’ about not going on that planned run or not stretching and doing some rehab to manage any niggles was immediately dismissed. The ‘sunrise run’ was a commitment and if, at any point, I considered not doing it, those thoughts were replaced by all bonuses of actually doing it – it would be a massive achievement to watch the sunrise on the longest day of 2020.
With one week to go, and the weather forecast looking promising, plans were finalised. We were leaving at 3:15am, ‘Ouch’ I needed to find that head torch and check it! With two days to go, time to think about the details –would I eat before leaving and if so, what? What would I eat the night before and take with me? We did have small bottles of fizz to mark the occasion, so one was slotted into my running backpack, along with water, a spare layer and the usual waterproofs.
The alarm was set for 2:30am which was the middle of the night! I tried to get an early night but, like a race, didn’t sleep terribly well, disturbed by the slightest noise and concerned I’d miss the alarm (well, two of them). The run through town was, as expected, quiet. Heading into the forest, the sky was already lightning and whilst we had planned plenty of time to make the trip, we needed the timing to be right; too early and we’d get cold waiting but clearly we needed to be there before sunrise. Once we’d reached the trig point of Shutlingsloe, we waited, uncertain about the approaching mist, but saw the sun rise – felt an amazing feeling to be there at 4:40am and in daylight and moreover, having achieved that goal.
What I learnt most about this adventure was the importance of an accepted, challenging but achievable goal. I agreed the challenge with my coach and by committing to it with friends, making it difficult to back out even when the nerves started to kick in. We don’t need big events to help us focus and direct our training, we just need a goal that we are passionate about. Something we can relate to and that motivates us to push our bodies a little bit harder. The benefits of completion are not a medal or a t-shirt, but that intrinsic satisfaction that I can achieve, progress and succeed. There is so much to see and experience just out our back door and now is the time to go and get it!