I am sat at home seriously craving some adventure and the challenge of pushing my limits both mentally and physically, I want to experience some form of suffering!
This may seem strange or stupid to some people, but to me the bigger, tougher or more ridiculous the challenge the more attractive it becomes and the more desire I have to tackle it!
It’s Friday night and the words come from my mouth “I am going to run the Yorkshire 3 Peaks on Sunday” my fiancé Nico replied you’re not really a runner and don’t people actually have to train specifically to run that route.
It’s fine I said with no hesitation!
The Yorkshire 3 Peaks is an epic fell running route right on my doorstep. 39.3km in distance with 1500m of ascent taking in Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough a classic epic run.
So, Sunday morning at 6am I find myself at Horton in Ribblesdale kitted up and ready to set off running the 3 Peaks, I need to be back by 1pm for lunch so I better get a move on.
With my headtorch on away I go, almost straight away your climbing the steeps of Pen-y-Ghent getting the blood pumping en-route to ticking off the first peak. My hopes of a sunrise were dashed by cloud and missed timings as I was up and over quicker than expected, which was a good thing.
The long traverse to Whernside was good to get in some easier kilometres, before the slow drag to the summit of the cold second peak, Whernside.
Halfway in and so far, so good, I am actually enjoying covering the ground so minimally, normally on an epic I would be riding a fully equipped bike packing rig, now it’s just myself and a small ruck sack.
Descending off Whernside I felt a little twinge in my left knee but nothing to serious, and with only a short distance to the base of Ingleborough the final peak I pushed on. By the time I started the last climb my legs were feeling the distance, my longest ever run before this was 20Km, now at 30km with the steep scramble to the summit proving a real leg burner.
After a final selfie at the top of the last peak, all three were in the clouds with no views!
The final push was a rough rocky descent down to Horton, which felt like the longest few kilometres of the whole run with the soles of my feet throbbing like mad. I return back to the car in 5 hours and 22 minutes!
Firstly, really chuffed to finish but secondly slightly disappointed as I thought quietly away I could do sub 5 hours, but with little to no training what can you expect.
So, what is the purpose of writing this?
It’s not really about the run but more about the mindset of taking on a challenge and pushing your personal limits.
Over the years having completed some of the toughest bike packing events on the circuit, Silk Road Mountain Race, French Divide and Highland Trail 550 I have learnt some valuable lessons along the way of self-management under extreme circumstances. I have experienced some long physical suffering and some torturous mind games in a variety of conditions, from baking heat to snow.
What this experience has installed in me is a mindset that doesn’t doubt the completion of my set challenge, adventure or race and not in an arrogant way just with confidence of being able to deal with situations.
The way I look at it is, that if I can ride my bike mostly uphill for 18-20 hours in the harsh landscape of Kyrgyzstan with all-weather seasons thrown in then surely in this case of the 3 Peaks I can run for a few hours and if not, I can always walk.
Breaking it down simply, the 3 peaks is just 3 ups and 3 downs so I my thoughts were take one by one. In the mindset of knowing that I'll finish, the fun is then working out how to finish, this results in a much more positive mindset and removes usually the biggest doubt or fear from your mind of “can I do this” If you can get yourself into this mindset when the going gets tough, if your biggest doubt is I am not sure if I can do this, it can spiral out of control potentially leading you to scratching or quitting the task ahead.
As a nonrunner this is how I managed to finish the Yorkshire 3 Peaks with little to no training but the right mindset, yes, I do have a good base fitness from cycling to go alongside this which helps.
Remember your mind will give up before your body will if you don’t keep control of it.
Don’t get me wrong it was hard undertaking but I was always going to finish even if it meant walking, in the moment it becomes about getting to the end, then afterwards is more about damn if I had done this or that I could have gone faster or been more efficient.
If you’re thinking about challenging yourself stepping out of those comfort zones, do it embrace it, don’t over plan it, if things don’t go to plan it can really mess things up and the slightest issue can manifest into a monster, get to the end have your finishers beer then if you want to break down on how you could be quicker or more efficient next time, do it in the satisfaction of the fact you FINISHED!
Stu's Kit List
Socks - Solvitur
Pants - Koulin Trail Tights
Shorts - Koulin Trail Shorts
Base layer – Kelper Long Sleeves
Mid Layer - Griffon
Outer – Morphosis Jacket
Head – Airhead Beanie
Rucksack – Artlu 10L