As we head into week 5 of Lockdown in the UK, the desire to be back amongst crags and mountain tops is becoming increasingly stronger. For many of us, we have had to leave the outdoor world behind for a little while, and instead turn our focus to indoor-training and survival in urban landscapes.
With no definite way of knowing when this will end, how do we feed the beast that craves adventure from the comforts of our own home?
Today I sit with the Scottish Bothy Bible open on my bed. It was a Christmas treat to myself, one I have yet to really take advantage of. My plan had been a week long trip once I had handed in the last of my university work – however, with deadlines fast encroaching that is seeming more and more unrealistic.
I am greeted with page after page of awe inspiring pictures. Idylic blue beaches, empty moorland and rugged mountain ranges stretch across the paper like an open invite to a world of exploration and wonder.
And I tell myself: Soon.
Those of us used to being outside for the majority of the time will, of course, be struggling with these new restrictions. Taking a break from your passion, especially with some of the driest and warmest weather we have had in 12 months, is certainly not easy. With that in mind, what exactly can we do to keep feeding our sense of adventure without leaving our homes? A few ideas that came to mind for me were:
- Planning new trips for after the pandemic (This is the one really getting me through)
- Training indoors, and setting physical goals
- Becoming involved with virtual races
- Sorting, repairing and rejuvenating old kit
- Having a garden camp out, complete with stove cooked food
Plan ahead, and plan fun
I never really stop getting excited at the prospect of new trips. Back in October, I was planing and costing a potential bouldering holiday to Fontainbleau this coming May. Last years trip was an adventure of dirt, wine, crippling DOMS and laughter, and so I was guaranteed to want to go back.
Now that is out of the window, we’re already talking about 2021.
Even if you cannot book ferries, plane tickets or accomodation yet, just taking the time out of your day to sit and plan travelling post-lockdown will have your heart racing with excitement. Whether your cryptonite is winter skills in the depths of Scotland, or hiking through the Italian Alps, there is sure to be something that will have you stoked for the future ahead.
If you have guide books, all the better. Take them out, tick off the places you have already been and circle the ones next on your hit list. One of the sure fire ways to keep the desire for adventure burning is to keep thinking about where you are going to go next – even if it is hard to know when ‘next’ will be.
Keep pushing your physical fitness, train hard
One of the great things about outdoor sports is that everyone can get involved, they are all incredibly accessible. That being said, even the fittest of us can always get fitter – and physical strength goes a long way to improving sporting ability.
In the last month, the Home Climbing Gyms group on Facebook has had over 3,000 new members. Understandably so, there is something so sexy, simplistic and elegant about a backyard climbing wall that, whilst other centres are shut, it makes perfect sense to crack out a saw and build your own. But this also helps you keep on top of your A-game, and as you start to see visible improvements in your ability, it is almost impossible not to become excited by the world of opportunity available in the near future.
This applies to most past times. Whilst working out can seem tedious, doing it to improve your sporting accruement is an awesome chance to building confidence and have fun even whilst taking a break from the outdoors.
Virtual races are the latest temptress
As increasing events are cancelled for 2020, more have risen to the challenge to being accessible from anywhere in the country.
The 5,5,5 challenge has been taking over social media over the last month. The idea is that you run 5K, donate £5 to the NHS and nominate 5 other people to get involved. This runs alongside the Strava NHS challenge, another great way to support national services whilst also competing (With yourself) to hit a fast fitness time.
Strava has in-fact been a leader in the field of free virtual events. I’ve signed up to multiple April Challenges myself. You can pick a distance, a sport, and push your physical capabilities to a time limit. You can see how friends are faring in comparison, and find a way of connecting with the outside community without leaving your local area.
If you are wanting to commit to something bigger, multiple other companies have popped up with virtual distance challenges that accumulate over a serious of weeks. Whilst not necessarily a timed race, you can set yourself personal achievements and will be rewarded at the end with various prizes.
I find myself increasingly tempted by these particular challenges. They offer a really great incentive for getting outside, and the same competitive nature that keeps me coming back to outdoor sports every time.
Take time out to become reacquainted with your kit
Who doesn’t love tagging climbing gear? Or giving their bike a really good clean? Or rewaxing their surfboard?
Now is the perfect time to fall in love with your kit once again. There is a reason we keep hold of these things for so long. They serve us well, we rely on them with our life. Kit is the backbone of all outdoor sports, so why not use this free time to show yours a little bit of affection?
I write this wearing my climbing shoes. I bought a new pair, not long before lockdown. They were a treat, and I was starting to break them in. My biggest concern at the moment is that my feet will become unaccustomed to the fit and feel, and tightness of this particular piece of retail therapy. In order to combat this, and despite not having a home gym to use them on, I have decided to wear my Boreal’s for 15 minutes a day. Every time I pull them on, I am reminded of the first 7A boulder I sent – and of the reasons I bought these shoes in the first place.
It sends a little shiver up my spine thinking of future projects, and imagining how and where I will get the opportunity to use these next. Taking care of your kit is important for any sport, but sometimes overlooked for the excitement of staying out a little longer. This is the perfect opportunity to give it all a little bit of loving, an oil and clean. Not only will it set you up for your for your first trip out, but it can also serve as a reminder of all the awesome things you have done so far.
Camp Out in the Garden (or the living room)
Good fun for adults and kids alike, what can beat the feeling of having canvas over your head when you fall asleep?
Whilst the weather is good, why not drag out the dusty summer tent and pitch up in the back garden. We all love camp food, camp fires and being outside as much as possible. Simpler to being in the wilderness, you will still have the chance to wake up to the gentle bird song and rising of the sun. Sleeping bags and blankets add to the overall effect, as do toasted marshmallows. if you can make this as movie like as possible, just do it.
For those living without back gardens, or without the space to have a mini campsite, who ever said forts were just for kids? Carboard boxes, sofas and tables make awesome bases for a hideaway. Maybe a little bit of white noise, some rain patter, and it will be just like wild-camping in the depths of the Scottish wilderness.
Whilst we struggle to find our way through a massive global event, it is important not to forget the little things that make our lives more fun. We rely on these past times for general fitness, mental health and socialising. This is not beyond us now, even if we have to take a break for a little while. I truly hope we can all maintain our sense of adventure through the coming months, and I look forward to seeing everyone back out on the hillsides once this is all done.
In the meantime; stay passionate, stay excited, stay stoked.