Ladies and gents, let me introduce you to Laura Fisher. Laura is a 43 year old mother of three. She has experience of OCR racing, but don’t worry, she saw the error of her ways and in the last few years has persued running as her sport of choice. She’s done a good few long obstacle/adventure runs including Spartan Beast, Man Vs Lakes and Man Vs Coast, as well as one road marathon (Manchester) and countless half marathons, 20 mile, 10 mile, and 10k races. Her dream has always been to do a multi-day event…. she just didn’t think her first one would be so many multi days.
“I decided to this because I can. For once the stars seemed to all align to make this possible – I had a good level of fitness and support from my family to look after the kids and I was looking for a way to test myself” explains Laura. “That’s not to say that I’ve not been held back by certain things. Until recently I wouldn’t have had enough confidence to take on something as big as this. I’m still terrified by certain aspects of this event, but my over-riding emotion is excitement for the adventure – and it’s this feeling that makes me know it’s the right time to take this on.”
As a mother of three, Laura suffers from classic maternal guilt and logistics issues. “It’s a huge barrier to committing to these events is the logistics of actually getting out of the house to do them. When I started running, I could barely sneak away for a local 10k race without someone desperately needing me – the idea of 9 days away was frankly, laughable. As the kids get older (currently 14, 11 and 10) this side of things gets easier. I am lucky that I have the support of my family on this one.”
This point hammers home those made in my previous blog. Very rarely have I heard a male adventurer or racer say they have guilt about leaving their children or partner to persue their adventure goals. I believe this is something that fundamentally holds women back from doing stuff like this. I don’t think they feel like they have a right to take part. Most of them don’t even ask. It’s something that has to change. An active partner is a happy partner. Think about it. Makes sense right?
“I see this challenge as a make or break moment in my life” continues Laura. “This is by far the biggest physical and mental challenge I have undertaken and I feel that at the end I will either be saying, ‘Never again!’ or, ‘What’s next?’. For this reason I haven’t booked any other events post-Hebrides – because I have no idea how I will feel. Either way, I need to prepare for the inevitable comedown from such a huge undertaking. As I write this I’m constantly thinking about longer and bigger challenges – ones that are filled with adventure and excitement, not just measured in minutes per mile. For me, it’s all about living the experience, exploring, learning something along the way and sharing it all with like-minded individuals. I truly hope I’m not broken at the end of this and that I have the support, money and strength to aim for bigger and more ambitious goals.”
Laura is already one step ahead of most people in that she is looking to the end of this trip and putting in place buffers to help her with the mental comedown – something that is not often talked about or dealt with until it’s too late. You need to make sure you have the space and time to unpack your mind when you get home to avoid the post trip hole.
“I think you need to be both physically AND mentally prepared for events like these” says Laura. “For me, step one has been achieving a certain level of fitness which, of course, makes you stronger and faster but also gives you the confidence to even engage with the idea of doing these challenges at all. Once you’ve but yourself in that zone to take on a challenge (and done the necessary physical preparations) then the mental strength comes into play. I feel I’ve tested myself numerous times in various events, but they’ve only ever been one single day races. This is why I’m particularly excited (and terrified!) to see how I’ll cope mentally over multiple days.”
“In the past I think I’ve been pretty good at sticking it out when the going gets tough – just a matter of getting your head down and grinding it out, knowing that the end (and a beer and pizza) is in sight! I wouldn’t say I have a particular technique to do this other than just putting myself in that mental zone of all-out effort to get the job done. This, consequently, is one of the huge attractions to this type of event – using all your mental strength and energy to complete a task means you’re really and truly getting a break from your everyday life. You can’t, for example, worry about doing the laundry and fixing the broken dishwasher, when every ounce of your mental energy is focussed on the ground in front of you and moving yourself quickly and safely over difficult terrain. This is what makes these experiences refreshing and invigorating even though they are physically exhausting.”
Laura is a huge advocate of women pushing boundaries and the rewards they can reap by taking that first step. “Ithink it’s natural to want to test yourself and push boundaries – it makes you feel alive in a world that can easily get bogged down with daily routines and commitments. This exact challenge may not be for everybody but if you’re even the tiniest bit inspired then try to find a challenge that’s right for you – the feeling of accomplishment, success and just plain awesomeness at the end will be the same.”
Laura’s training for the event has been steady and ongoing since she signed up. She has incorporated shorter runs with long slow runs and hikes a couple of times a week and feels that she is ready for what Scotland will throw at her. Although she is confident she can complete the 185 mile route, she’s not taking the challenge lightly.“The fact that I’ve never done a multi-day event, and all that that entails scares the pants off of me! Ultimately the longer distances – filled with adventure and exploring – is where I want my fitness to go, so I’m hoping this is the first step on this journey. If I had to pick my two biggest worries, I’d say being being tired and being cold. If I can manage these then I’m hoping all else will fall into place.”
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