Ahead of her talk at FINDRA, Innerleithen on Wednesday 28th February, we asked bike-packing adventurer Marion Shoote what it is that inspires her to get outside and make the most of the day, even when she’d really rather stay inside.
When the sun’s shining it’s easy to pull on my trainers or pull out my bike and head straight for the hills. Especially with Scotland’s rather unpredictable weather – you don’t need any extra encouragement here to get out and make the most of those rather rare blue-sky days. And when I’m feeling good and maybe have been thinking about hitting a route all day at work or dreaming of the weekend, I don’t think twice about heading out the door. But when it’s grey outside, or I’m knackered and feeling uninspired about working up a sweat, those are the days when I need to dip into my reserves of enthusiasm and remember the reasons why I really ought to get out anyway. So here are a few that I thought I would share in case you’re needing a bit of extra encouragement this new year.
I want to be outside. I really love the great outdoors. I love looking at it, I love being part of it, I love thinking and talking about it. Out in nature is a place where nothing else really matters apart from the air you’re breathing and where you’re going to put your feet/tyres next. Charge headlong into it, or stop and look at the view (even if it’s hidden behind a cloud) and feel your head clearing as you immerse yourself in our amazing landscape. Suddenly the horizontal rain isn’t a punishment, but instead brings a kind of elemental joy as it blasts away your cares. You stop worrying about big stuff as you’re busy noticing the little stuff like what the plants in the verge smell like or the colour of some interesting fungus on a tree trunk. Hooray for the great outdoors!
Being fit is great. It doesn’t matter what point you’re starting from, there’s a real pleasure to be had from becoming fitter. It’s something to take pride in. The start is always hard, but it’s ok to do just do what you can, as long as you’re going to keep at it. And if you do, gradually those hill climbs start to become easier, and you can enjoy the feeling of working hard and discovering what your body is capable of. Being fit is worth working for. It also opens up ever-increasing possibilities of what you can do with your free time: that long-running route that has always looked so good on the map, that crazy race you’ve always wanted to do, that bikepacking or backpacking tour that beckons for your next holiday.
Really, what better thing have I got to be doing with my time? I’m not going to go to sleep at night reliving all the housework I did instead of going riding, and I’m not going to chat about it to my work colleagues on Monday either. But if I go for a ride or a run in the snow/rain/hail and get back in one piece then I’m definitely going to have done something interesting with my day. And chances are it will be fun!
That cup of tea when you get back home is going to be the best. You know that feeling where you’ve been out in ridiculous weather or when you really had to push yourself and then you get back in the house and little home comforts are suddenly the most amazing thing ever? I always feel great about getting back in knowing that I worked that much harder to get myself out in the first place. It’s the same with bigger trips – sometimes the hardships in store seem a bit daunting, but then that first shower after however many days without is the best thing in the world. And it can also help me get my perspective on what I really need to make me happy. Turns out that it’s often just a cup of tea (and hopefully a biscuit).
Adventures are good for the soul. Sometimes life can be a bit too organised and a bit more mud and randomness is a fine cure. It’s one of the things I love about bikepacking trips because you set off each day not really knowing what’s going to happen. But it’s true for smaller excursions too – maybe I’ll see a buzzard or a rainbow or something else that will make me smile.
So I find sometimes it’s better to stop thinking about whether I want to go out and just know that I’ll definitely feel better if I do, and that’s the only answer that I need to listen to. So what are you waiting for – shoes on!
For further motivational material, check out this blog from fellow adventurer Anna Blackwell