At FINDRA, March is ‘mini adventure’ month, reminding us all that getting out and embracing the weekend, or an evening, cramming in as much exploration as you can in the time you have, is a great way to maximise your time and your happiness. We asked Jenny Tough, FINDRA ambassador as well as micro and mega adventurer, why the mini-adventure is so important.
I thoroughly believe that adventures are accessible to everyone. No matter what your budget, spare time, family, or fitness restricts you to, there is always loads of adventure potential. I’ve been lucky enough to take on mega adventures all around the world, but the majority of my adventuring happens right here in Scotland. It’s usually just on a mini scale.
The epiphany – if you want to call it that – came from a 24-hour training run in the Cairngorms that I had planned in order to test new kit before running across Kyrgyzstan. I took the train from Edinburgh in the morning, ran until midnight, pitched my new tent, slept a few hours, then ran to the next train station in order to arrive home on time for dinner at a friend’s house that evening. I covered 75km of previously unexplored trails, drank water from streams, cooked a meal outside, got lost when visibility was poor, did yoga next to a waterfall, and made it to the train platform with only two minutes to spare. On the train, I undoubtedly upset fellow passengers while patching my blisters and stretching aching limbs in the aisle, but when I arrived at my friend’s house that evening, everyone remarked at how happy I looked. It was more than a runner’s high – I had just had an adventure. It had been gnarly, challenging, beautiful, and thrilling. All of the highs and lows I expect on a mega challenge had been experienced in a 24-hour period. I decided from then on that big training runs or rides would be rebranded as ‘mini adventures’.
Ditching routine training loops and hunting for new trails and peaks instead means getting my adventure fix more often, and helps me prepare for the bigger challenges up ahead. Here’s why I think everyone should embrace mini adventures:
MINI ADVENTURES INTRODUCE YOU TO YOUR BACKYARD
I’ve been in Scotland for over five years now, and there are still so many trails I haven’t explored. Within hours from home, there’s still so much to see, and I think it’s important to know your own backyard. Setting mini-challenges, like bagging all the peaks in your radius, or doing the longest ride you’ve ever done, or finding the best bivvy spots are all great motivators to get you exploring your own area in a new way.
MINI ADVENTURES ARE CHEAP AND ECO-FRIENDLY
No need for overseas flights, expedition insurance, or holiday from work. Once you have the right kit, you can adventure for next to free, and with limited impact on our beautiful planet.
MINI ADVENTURES ARE FUN
Climbing a hill is a slog. Going on an adventure up a hill is a blast – it’s all about the mindset you approach that hill with. When I change the title of a “long ride” to a “mini-adventure”, suddenly the whole thing becomes more exciting. It also gives me an excuse to stop to take more photos or pop into new cafes (you do have to recce all of the cake stops, don’t you?).
MINI ADVENTURES ARE GOOD TRAINING
Training for a marathon inevitably begins with being able to run a 5k. It’s the same for adventure. I learn so much from my mini adventures that help prepare me, not just with fitness but with my mental approach, skills, nutrition strategy, and experience with my kit. Mini adventures are an essential step in preparing for mega adventures.
MINI ADVENTURES ARE A MINDSET
Someone once showed me pictures from his bike ride and asked me if it qualified as an adventure. He was clearly stoked from his day-long ride and discovering cool new places close to his hometown, but was unsure if it ‘counted’ as an adventure because it was only one day. Of course, it qualifies! Adventure is a mindset – there’s no minimum distance or time required. If it’s an adventure to you, then it’s an adventure. Period.
HOW TO HAVE A MINI ADVENTURE
The great thing about mini adventures is that they shouldn’t take intense amounts of planning. Simply pick your route, pack your bags, and head outside. If you’re not sure where to go, there are loads of online resources you can use for inspiration for trails, peaks, bothies, beaches, or whatever you’re looking for. I love WalkHighlands, Komoot, and TrailForks, all where you can find tips and routes from other outdoor users. The options are literally limitless.
Now go find an adventure!