In the second blog of my ‘Women In Sport’ series, we have one of my clients – Jane W. I believe some of her challenges are more than worth reading about, more to come on these later in the week but to wet your appetite, if I was to say she will be canoeing 89km supporting Poitr, moving down the River Tay from Killin to Meikleour. Wow!
So to start you off check out where this fantastic journey in sport began:-
‘Last November, 2016, I heard about a talk being given by Louise Johnstone (Louise’s PT4U) on behalf of Grow Biz East Perthshire. A local enterprise support group for small businesses in rural Perthshire. It sounded fascinating, Louise was going to give a motivational talk about the Marathon de Sables which she had completed earlier that year. Following the talk I was clear that I would like to approach Louise for health and fitness training sessions.
At that point I was dealing with some back and joint problems which were having an impact on my work. And with the fact that my daughter Derryth, had left home to move to Glasgow. She was my main buddy and partner in crime. In her mid teens she became interested in a number of outdoor activities. These included mountain biking, canoeing, ski-ing, rock climbing and road biking. We gave them all a good shot. I was determined not to be just a taxi driver. I wanted to join in. So I tried everything and found I had a passion in particular for the biking. But I love the canoeing and climbing too. We were lucky enough to have friends who could teach us the skills required to take part in these new interests. We would buy second hand kit and to go ski-ing we would work our lunches in the ski cafes in order to get a free ski pass. We would take ourselves off on some fairly mad adventures. We cycled the Caledonian Etape together when Derry was…almost 18. We paddled up Loch Morar, camped out overnight and then paddled off down Loch Nevis one time. We’ve cycled the Burma Road in the Cairngorms on our mountain bikes. And for Mother’s Day this year she took me rock climbing at the crags on the edge of Kirriemuir. I took up these outdoor sports in my early 40s as Derry entered her teens. And have had an absolute blast doing them. I would not say that I am a naturally gifted person at learning these new skills. Unlike Derry who would get it first time. I would have to really apply myself and practice a lot. Derry took to things like a duck to water and had to exercise a lot of patience whilst waiting for Mum to get with the programme. She would also teach me what she had learnt and picked up quickIy. So I would have lots of opportunities for re-learning everything.
I have always been pretty active tending to work outdoors part time in conservation and rural management work. And also in running my own business, where I make baskets, willow fences and coracles. When I was younger I played team sports such as netball and lacrosse at my High School. But I hadn’t done any sporting activities in over 20 years until I started mountain biking and canoeing with Derry.
Why did I chose the activities I engage in?
I could have gone down the team sport route if Derry had gone down that route. But she chose the fields that I am now participating in. So to begin with I followed Derry. I let her lead rather than the other way round. Which seemed to suit both of us. But they have continued to suit me particularly well. I have always had a love of the great outdoors, of forests, mountains and rivers. My dad used to take me fishing when I was in my teens and bird watching. And I went hill walking in the Lake District with a group of girls from my Secondary School..
All these were formative experiences.
And I am at my happiest when I am out of the house in a wild place. And to be able to navigate through that landscape under my own steam with the aid of a boat, bike or a rock climbing rope has and still does give me immense satisfaction. When I am on my bike I get two amazing sets of feelings. I feel wild, ferrel, completely free and full of physical power (even more so following the training sessions with Louise!). The stronger I become physically, the more those sensations are magnified. But if I am feeling stressed, rung out or under pressure the bike is always the solution. If my heart is racing due to menopausal hormones; daily stresses; or caring for my parents the bike has an incredibly calming and steadying effect. When I have had the opportunity to cycle for extended periods I seem to find a natural rhythm or cadence. A certain number of pedal strokes per minute am not sure what it actually is. But just that I know it when I have hit that pace it is a lovely feeling and makes me feel like I could keep going indefinitely. That rhythm is like a meditation, and really grounds me both mentally and physically. ‘
Jane is embarking on a remarkable challenge on Wednesday 21st june 2017, there will be an update later in the week to let you know more . . . .
(PS: You may be able to follow their progress at Outdoor Explore on social media)