As soon as I say to anyone ‘I’m doing the National 3 peaks Challenge’ their reply is ‘that’s really hard you know’ and some can’t quite hide that sly smile, which tells me they think ‘as if!’.
Of course, I know the National Three peaks challenge is HARD, that’s why it’s a called challenge, I’m also aware that there are many factors that may stop me from completing in 24 hours like traffic, weather and injury.
So why do I want to do the challenge?
My first reason is purely for my own achievement and change in lifestyle.
I’ve always loved the outdoors but my own excuses and fears have held me back. A few years ago the idea of climbing to the top of any mountain seemed distant and unattainable because “I’m not fit enough, I don’t have anyone to do it with, it’s too much of a struggle to organise friends to help me and join in, I can’t go on walks alone…people keep telling me it’s dangerous, I don’t have any of the right gear and can’t afford it, and I’m not fit enough again” the list goes on and its only my voice yelling out all of these excuses. So what was the catalyst for change?
Truly my own journey to wellbeing began in September 2017. The three-week honeymoon on the road taught me much about where I find happiness and fulfilment and being outdoors every single day was good for my health, physically and spiritually. Once I’d returned home with winter drawing in I fell back into old routines, I found myself ‘spiralling’ again into my own dark places. (I’d like to say luckily) I’ve never experienced mental health illness, I’ve experienced like all of us; general down days, the total loss of energy feeling like I could sleep for a week, and overthinking and doubting every life choice I’ve ever made, that’s what I’m referring to when I personally ‘spiral’. There is plenty of scientific evidence that getting outdoors can help to relieve depression and overall mental health, just getting outdoors for 10 minutes a day can make a positive effect.
At some point in the few months between October and late December, I said to myself ‘screw it!’. Screw my own self-doubt and excuses and pursue what makes you happy, even if it’s a challenge or scary. I evaluated what makes me happiest, what I find fulfilling and I promised myself to do more of the good stuff that fed my soul.
And that’s how I’ve been living since and in my heart and my mind I’m so much happier. I’m less tired and lethargic, I have more confidence in myself and ‘spiral’ much less, I’ve also found a new burst of artistic creativity inspired by the outdoors. I am simply, happy.
Now I know I could have easily said my aim would be to walk every weekend or set myself an easier challenge but I’m just not that person. I’ve learnt this from years sewing costumes and clothing, if I tried to sew myself something even something simple it would never get finished. I set myself a huge mammoth task to make a costume for someone else I have no real idea how to make on a tight deadline and I get s**t done. It’s just the way I am, I am more committed if I have a real goal and if it’s not just for me. Which leads me to my second reason for attempting the National 3 Peaks Challenge.
My second reason is a charity that’s very close to my family’s heart, Foot Steps for Freddie and Friends. A charity set up by my cousin and his wife to help children who are unable to walk or have limited mobility like their son Freddie, who was born in 2010 with an undiagnosed complex neurodevelopment syndrome, as well as having a wide range of health conditions the syndrome left Freddie unable to walk. Foot Steps for Freddie and Friends helps children by raising money to help fund various equipment and accessories which can be very costly for the families of children with limited mobility. The charity, founded in 2016, has already helped so many children and last year Hayley raised money by shaving her hair off, how amazing is she?! The charity runs solely from donations and fund raising, so what could I do to help? O.k. so I guess I could have chosen a slightly easier challenge but hey go big or go home right! and I’m going to try my hardest to raise as much money for the charity as I possibly can.
I will be starting a Go Fund Me page at the end of July for sponsorship, however, if you’ve read this and would like to donate to Freddie and Friends right now please follow the link below for more information and the options to donate. Thank you!
So what does the challenge entail?
The Three Peaks Challenge involves climbing the highest mountains of Scotland, England and Wales within 24 hours. Which includes Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon adding up to a enormous 24 miles of hill walking, separated by two long drives, my only chance to get some sleep and rest between climbs.
Because I’m the type of person that needs something written in stone to make me actually do it, I’ve booked on to a guided group walk for 29th September 2018 with Three Peaks Challenge Ltd at a cost of £360 to myself. I’ve paid £60 deposit and the rest is to be paid at the end of July so I’ve got until then to really decide if I’m fit enough.
I will need to make my way solo on the train from Chester to Fort Willam on the Friday day and stay overnight in a hostel at Fort William. Early Saturday morning I meet the rest of the group there and start our first climb, Ben Nevis.
The booking also includes coach transport between the mountains, allowing me to get some kip in between. I’ll also be dropped off in Chester at the end which is extremely handy for me.
I’ll be alongside a likeminded group of people, which I believe are separated into ability groups and guided by professional and experienced mountain leaders.
Basically, I’ve got to complete Ben Nevis in 5 hours, Scafell Pike in 5 hours and Snowdon’s summit in 3 hrs. So that’s one of my biggest challenges is to up my climbing time, I’m currently just not fast enough. And then obviously sleep deprivation and fatigue is going to be another huge physical challenge on the day.
The company suggests general fitness training three times a week for 30+minutes and endurance fitness training once a week for 3+ hours such as a hill walk. With a training time frame of 3-6 months depending on existing fitness level.
My training and fitness
Where I’m at so far (written beginning of June)
Before December 2017 I had never really done proper walking and I hated hated hated walking up steep hills, they killed me. I would try to go to the gym 2 times a week for classes and yoga but I absolutely hate going to the gym bit and working out on the machines…the gym for me is a scary place.
Since Decemeber I try my hardest to go on as many long and uphill walks as possible, about every two weeks. I’ve also walked Snowdon 3 times so far!
I added a 3rd gym class to my routine totalling 3 cardio based classes and try to get to Strala Yoga when I can on a Sunday morning. I’ve also been trying to do a gym work out with ‘M’ another night in the week even if it it’s just walking uphill on the treadmill for an hour, but I’ve been struggling with this, I’ve been trying to play Baddingminto instead but I’ve now got painful Cubital Tunnel syndrome in my hand to contend with.
Since starting training, I have noticed a slight improvement in my fitness, getting less outbreath and needing less breaks on each walk. Go me! Although I’m having these scary ‘breathing episodes’ which has been suggested is exercise induced asthma which I am now currently getting investigated by a doctor.
I just need to carry on putting in the effort, up my game a little and not fall off the wagon during my holiday to New York.
And whilst on the point of my personal fitness, I’ll be open and frank about my personal life commitments too. It’s no secret among family and friends (and considering i’m trying to give the most honest account of my journey and experience I will share it online) that we’re hoping to start a little brood of our own and obviously I know if this happens then I more than likely will have to postpone the challenge. But I refuse to put my life on hold for something that may or may not happen, the only time I will stop is if a medical professional tells me it’s having a negative impact on conception.
We can’t help everyone but everyone can help someone – Ronald Regan
Up next- New York- Small girl in a big city.
LISTENING TO: Flames- Sia