What are your dreams

As Jenny Graeme whizzes round the World in her record attempt, inspiring us all to look differently at life’s challenges and adventures, I thought it would be interesting to reflect a little on goals and challenges. 

Throughout my life and particularly more recently, as a coach, I have met and worked with people with seemingly impossible challenges in mind. 

Perhaps the first real big one was when I went to see Karen Darke in December 2009 and she told me that she was thinking of trying to get to the London Paralympics in hand cycling, an event she had only competed in twice and both times been a resounding last place finisher. She got a silver medal in London and Gold in Rio 4 years later, having gone ‘off piste’, as we call it, a few times to escape the grind of specific training and achieve other amazing adventures.

Lee Craigie and the Adventure Syndicate are another group of amazingly inspirational people and athletes. I was lucky enough to work with Lee, Emily Chappel, Jenny, Paula Regana and the Adventure Syndicate team on the first Adventure Syndicate training camp at Girona Cycling, where I met many inspiring people who have gone on to achieve amazing things. Many of whom I have been lucky enough to stay in touch with. The second camp, this year was a self supported camp, different but forming a springboard for many to reach their goals, inspire each other and form longstanding relationships…. even connecting with the campers of last year - small world? maybe!

It was at that first Girona camp that I met Jenny Graham, at that time Jenny’s goal was to ride the Arizona 750; as the name implies a 750 mile, self supported off road race in Arizona. Jenny had completed the Highland Trail 550 the previous year so it was clear that she wasn’t too far outside her comfort zone with her goal. In fact, snakes seemed to be her biggest conceptual challenge. 

I started working with Jenny shortly after the camp and it has been an amazing journey since then as I got to know such a wonderful person. Even having got to know Jenny I was somewhat surprised when she told me she wanted to break the record for cycling round the world - clearly something a bit outside her comfort zone in so many ways but why not? Jenny told me her plan during one of our regular Skype chats and we discussed a bit of the detail and figured out how it might work. Over the following months we worked out more plans, training sessions, routes, logistics and now she is more than half way round the world.

Karen’s and Jenny’s stories are quite extreme and of course required a lot of hard work and some sacrifice but have also brought great rewards. However they are examples of people who took on seemingly impossible goals. 

My philosophy is always, why not try? If you aim for something and don’t achieve, you will have had an amazing journey. You will probably be a lot fitter, have some new friends, seen new places and have learned lots of things. In most cases you will also have done something you would never have done if you didn’t try. But let’s not dwell on what might not work, let’s think about what it will be like when you succeed in your dream. 

So what are your dreams? Don’t hold back - amazing things are possible - why not give it a go?

Good luck and please get in touch, comment on the blog, start or join a discussion on our Facebook Group or message me directly if you have a personal question.

This week I am off to Battle Mountain in Nevada, where I am hoping to help Karen Darke break the land speed record for a hand cycle - exciting times!

Back in the Pyrenees

 

Quest 79 group photo
Quest 79 Mallorca Training Camp 2018

After the last blog I rushed off to Mallorca for a training camp with two hand cyclists and one paratriathlete; all amazing women (Lizzie from the UK, Svetlana from Russia/Austria and Arna from Iceland). It was a great experience to finally see the ideas I had discussed with Karen come to fruition and what a success.

Unfortunately the weather didn't smile on us during the week but the group worked so well together. The workshops were lively and interactive, the one to ones were readily adopted by the interested and committed athletes. Everyone had their own training plans and helped each other to find suitable routes with our help. Some rides in groups and some solo to make sure that when specific sessions were needed they were done to perfection.

Karen climbing the final stretch out of Vernet closely tracked by Helena
Karen climbing the final stretch out of Vernet closely tracked by Helena

Next up was our own camp in Casteil, a pilot for what we want to do here in our new Pyrenean home. The camp worked in a similar way to the other camps, self led with workshops and one to ones. I even did a bit of massage, which was a pleasant and rewarding reminder of another way I can use my skills to benefit people. I am planning to do a bit more once we get a bit more organised.

Four athletes attended, staying in our apartment upstairs, which was perfect in many ways. We can accommodate more athletes using the same format and local accommodation but we want to keep things small so that we can give a great service and maintain the interaction in the workshops that we hold in our living space. Endurance cyclists, Jenny Graham and Karen Tostee I have worked with since January 2017, see previous blog, Karen't friend Helena who is just about to do the London Marathon and then I will be helping her with her cycling as she builds up to the Ironman World Championships in Kona and our competition winner Amy White who is looking forward to some ultra-trail races over the summer as well as our local race the Championnat du Canigou in August.

You can learn all about these camps on our camps pages and read about how it went for the athletes in their testimonials. Suffice it to say it was a great success and we are looking forward to running more camps as soon as we can tempt people to come and join us. If you are interested, have a look at the camps pages or send me an .

Amy enjoys the view from a mountain trail
Amy enjoys the view from a mountain trail

As well as the more predictable workshop requests such as understanding training zones, intensities and planning, the discussions highlighted some interesting common themes. Lifestyle challenges were highlighted in both the Mallorca and Casteil camps, even amongst the full time athletes. It is apparent that juggling life commitments and training into an effective package is difficult to achieve and a specific workshop helped identify priorities and understanding that could be worked on more specifically in one to one sessions. Although not planned as such, both camps were female only and this made it appropriate to focus on nutrition and training cycles specific to women's needs, something that definitely merits further time and effort. On the whole an interesting and wonderful experience.

Please let me know what you think, get in touch if you want to discuss anything further or feel you would like to contribute to or benefit from our activities in JHCoaching. You can email me at , or follow one of the links on the website.

What Clare thought:

What Clare thought of our first Endurance Workshop

Chilling out with Karen Darke's sports psychology book
Chilling out with Karen Darke’s sports psychology book

What a lovely experience to watch four determined and committed athletes come to us in March tired and stressed and leave more like themselves. The transformation was visible, as people began to relax and enjoy the simple structure of training, eating, workshops and resting.

Throughout my professional life I have strived to help people become better at life, better at coping, to become the person they really want to be. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a transformation happen so quickly. This is a credit to the commitment that each person gave to the camp and its processes. It worked far better than I could have hoped.

I love working with people and seeing them develop and grow; it’s a real pleasure to provide a setting in which they can do that. Rather selfishly it also gives me an opportunity to learn about myself and be inspired by the strength and talents of others.

You can find our more about our camps on our web pages or email for more information, to check availability or book a place by clicking .