Since high school, throughout University and in my private life I have enjoyed learning about training programs, holistic health, nutrition and how it builds the athlete's body. In my teenage years always determined to be a professional footballer I grasped all the concepts, understood the importance of ensuring healthy body, healthy mind and balance between work and play but it wasn't until I attacked this goal of mine that I really learnt about it.
When I decided, and I mean, really decided I wasn't wavering in my thoughts at all, that I was to climb Mt Everest base camp I began watching Youtube videos, following Instagram channels on alpine climbing, Mt Everest, hikespo (what I call hiking inspiration images) and snow gear. My Instagram channel became full of everything that my goal was about- ice, snow, freezing cold temperatures. Thanks to my knowledge of sports psychology and ongoing learning about health and fitness I knew that any approach to making sure I would conquer Everest and not just attempt it was all about living it, breathing it and most importantly having my head in it. This is where I took time to sit down and think about all the things I would require to keep myself mentally strong.
Before I go on I'll explain that last statement, it is really important to understand that any physical goal is more mental than physically challenging. I have participated in sport my whole life and enjoyed it all but nothing compares to having no doubt in your mind about the success you'll have. You see previous experiences in sport had all been about a long term goal which seemed (call me crazy) quite easily attainable, probably too easily attainable- I was trialling out and playing premier league for a sport I loved, was prepared to train for- I'd finish games mentally exhausted more than physically but it wasn't anything out of my comfort zone. This is what I believe draws me back to Everest every time.
You see mountain climbing whilst always enjoyed was not something that would produce the same results or have the same effects, every hike (not so many before I began training) was different. Each pathway you needed to think about and at the end of each pathway (unless you walk/run it twice) gives you a different view. The varying lengths of hikes presented new physical challenges, the ability to pack for them, enjoy your own company and understand how you'd get through each situation.
The hikes that I complete through a variety of national parks, mostly on my own, are challenging in a different ways. Yes it is a little crazy that I am doing it on my own (the majority of times) but it is also part of the challenge because any concerns I face, either with wildlife (I've met a few brown snakes and taipans on the way) or otherwise I have to overcome them on my own. This is not something that comforts my family however, but I still consider my risks to be calculated, healthy risks and I'd rather be taking those risks than unhealthy ones.
So I guess if you had to pin the point at which things started becoming real it was not with the exercise, it was with the understanding I gained from learning about the hike. Without gaining information about fitness programs, altitude sickness, dietary habits of Sherpas, the ways to pack to name just a few things I do not believe I could walk into a gym knowing that my 25hours a week (minimum) would equal success. This is where I began not just learning but fully understanding exactly what it means to have the head space to achieve anything.
Apologies for the differently sized images my computer decided to present me another challenge and not allow me to resize them!