So many plans have had to change due to covid, but I was determined to have an adventure in 2021. Travel abroad was too challenging, but I thought domestic adventures had more chance in succeeding. I had always put off an endurance adventure, as I wasn’t sure I had it in me; I knew I needed to invest time, energy and effort.
Q: What was the adventure?
A: A long distance cycle route, across the width of England, stretching 173 miles (280km), across the top of England from Tynemouth on the east beside the North Sea to Whitehaven on the Cumbrian west coast overlooking the Irish Sea. Known as the Reivers Route, parts of which straddle the border between England and Scotland it has a variety of terrain: from cycle tracks through urban landscapes to quiet country lanes, through to tracks around Kielder Water (the largest man-made lake in Europe) and on to remote forested trails across the borderlands between Scotland and England, before skirting to the hills of the northern Lake District before finally arriving in the port of Whitehaven.
The Reivers Route has a total of 10,000 feet (3110 metres) ascent when travelling east to west and is part of the charity, Sustrans cycle network (Route 10). There a number of coast-to-coast cycle routes on the National Cycle Network, but the Reivers is often overlooked in favour of the popular Sea-to-Sea/ C2C route which claims to be the UK’s most popular cycle challenge.
Q: Why the Reivers Route?
A: I had long wanted to cycle the Reivers Route. I’m not fond of riding on the roads, so the more fashionable C2C route wasn’t for me. Wild, remote places make my soul sing; I am free, living in the moment, connected to my surroundings and feeling more like the person I really am. Having circumnavigated Kielder Water, I knew the Reivers Route was my preferred option. Living in the North East, locals looking for a challenge tend to participate in the world’s best known half marathon, the Great North Run (GNR), or cycle the C2C. I am not a runner and having injured my Achilles tendon a few years ago the GNR was definitely off the table.
Q: What is involved in endurance training activities?
A: Anything which involves getting you physically ready to undertake the challenge, but includes specific activities related to your endurance activity and general endurance. Activities need to increase your breathing and heart rate. I rode my bike 3 times a week for 4 months, following a training programme set by a cycling coach. Interestingly, I didn’t have to do lots of long distance rides as much as I thought, but adding in hill training, towards the end, helped. I also did a bootcamp once a week and a weekly session of Olympic weightlifting. This increased my strength, particularly my core.
Q: What did I learn about training for an endurance activity?
A: Being new to an endurance activity, I knew I needed to train but the time, commitment and sacrifices were not immediately apparent.
- If you have a packed life with little spare time, you will need to give something up. I opted to temporarily stop yoga. Remember, it’s only for a short while, and you can always restart your activity once your challenge is complete.
- You will need to carve out protected time to devote to training. Try and stick to these times each week. Be ruthless and focused.
- You will feel guilty when saying ‘no’ to family and friends. Think of the bigger picture and your long-term goal. I kept one evening a week free for anyone who wanted to catch up or go for a coffee or a cocktail!
- Employ a discipline specific coach. I really had no idea how to train for a long distance cycle, so working with someone who is an expert in their field gave me the confidence that I was following the right training plan. Thanks Jon from the Endurance Academy.
- There is a monetary cost in terms of purchasing the correct kit, and paying for a coach.
- Enthusiastic friends and family can help with motivation and support, particularly if they participate in your discipline. It’s important to surround yourself with the right positive people. Thanks to Cheryl for encouragement and the hill training.
- Fail to prepare or prepare to fail! Preparation can make such a difference in terms of enjoyment and confidence in tackling your challenge. I had no desire for a ‘suffer-fest’ and wanted to ensure I was as confident as I could be prior to the event.
Good luck in pursuing your own challenges, whatever they maybe. Follow on Instagram for more tips in my Reels. If you like reading, checkout my tips and learn about stepping out of your comfort zone whilst maintaining your confidence, in Take It All On Board.
Ta ta for now,