Adventure Resolutions for 2020

With a month of 2020 already in the bag, this post is a touch belated. It’s given me time to reflect more on 2019, and establish realistic objectives for this year.

Setting objectives is important to me. I believe it acts as a spur to do more, to push further, to hold yourself to account.I also firmly believe that telling others about your goals, and getting people on board to help you achieve them, acts like a commitment device, and makes you more likely to succeed.

Reviewing my 2019 resolutions, whilst I’m happy that I achieved most of what I set out to do (6 out of 7- for the record, here they are: https://louiswaterman-evans.com/blog/blog/louis-waterman-evans-launch/ ), I’m disappointed that I didn’t come anywhere near to achieving my main running resolution, which was:

Run at least once per week with a club to nudge my marathon PB closer to 2:30

Here’s why I think it didn’t happen:

1. I was injured for most of the months I was in the city at the beginning of the year.

2. I had very little routine, and my time spent in the city was limited, reducing opportunities to train with a club.

3. I prioritised climbing and getting out into the mountains over road running.

Thinking about it deeper, I don’t think it was ever realistic to achieve this one. My chosen lifestyle over the past 18 months has been to work intensively during the summer months as a hiking guide, and have no fixed routine in the winter months. Improving road running performance seems to lend itself to routine, slotting in alongside work hours and city living. Commutes can be turned into base mileage, lunch breaks can become speed sessions, an evening can become hill reps, and weekends can revolve around long runs. This isn’t my lifestyle at all, and it won’t be for the foreseeable future. I therefore need to rethink how I approach running in the short term, and make objectives that fit for me, rather than setting myself up to fail with unrealistic goals.

With reflections on 2019 in mind, here are my new adventure resolutions for 2020:

1. Move to Norway.

The Lofoten Islands, northern Norway. I still have this image firmly rooted in my memory after hitch-hiking there whilst at university.

This one is big, and something that Sofie and I have not entered into lightly. We are both determined to give it a shot out in Norway, and are sewing seeds to make it happen. This most certainly does not mean severing ties with Scotland though- I 100% intend on returning, for both work and personal adventures. There is still so much more to explore, see and do here, but we feel like we need to give Norway a good shot. Stating it here will hopefully make it more likely to happen.

2. Train for, race and compete to the best of my ability in the Lavaredo Ultra.

Crossing the finish line of the MCC, part of the UTMB series last summer

Running is an important part of my life, and this year I’m lucky enough to have got a place in the Lavaredo Ultra. It’s a 120km race with over 5800m of elevation gain in the Dolomites. It will be the longest I have ever run before, and I want to not only complete it, but enjoy it by feeling well trained and being able to compete to the best of my ability. I feel that it’s easy enough (so long as you’re resilient and don’t get injured) to get round ultra trail races, but to actually race and compete requires a significant amount of commitment and focus on training for many months preceding the race.

3. Explore more locally, in my case the Scottish Highlands and Islands.

Skara Brae, Orkney – a Neolithic site I recently visited, after having wanted to see it for years.

So I’ve got a head start on this one, by currently being on the road exploring parts of the Highlands and Islands that I haven’t been too, such as Orkney and the Small Isles. This also ties in with resolution #7 on slower travel. It’s all too easy to jump on cheap flights to far flung parts of the world, but what about what’s on our doorstep? With the move to Norway has come a burning desire to explore Scotland more, to connect people and place, and broaden my understanding of the landscape, history and culture.

4. Improve my trad climbing. (to make it SMART – lead climb E1 AND/OR Log enough trad climbs to undertake my Rock Climbing Instructor Assessment.)

The Old Man of Hoy, maybe the most famous E1 out there. It definitely won’t be my first (I actually don’t think I ever want to climb it given erosion and climbing surely only further likely to add to its demise)

So this one has two potential measurable outputs. I’m currently working toward my Rock Climbing Instructor Assessment, so logging enough climbs for that would be one measure of improvement. Leading an E1 – graded climb would be awesome too, but I don’t want to get fixated by grades so am not massively fussed if this one doesn’t materialise.

5. Maintain road running fitness to run a sub-3 hour marathon.

After completing the Shakespeare marathon last April off the back of bugger all training. I’ll endeavour to do more in the run up to Bonn this year.

I’ve learned from last year. Running anything quicker is unrealistic, so this year is about maintaining. I’m entered into the Bonn Marathon in April, so a sub-3 there is the goal. With impending nail surgery in February and a far-from-fixed lifestyle preceding it though, it might be tricky. I’ll give it a shot though!

6. Write more about adventures and find ways to inspire others to achieve their goals.

I used to write more about running and adventures, and had a few pieces published (see the Portfolio page for a few examples), but have recently not prioritised it. This year I’d like to reach out to more folk, to engage with others about their goals, and help them to realise their potential. Writing more is one way to do this, as is having good communication with the people I guide on hikes. I’ll try to be creative and find other ways too.

7. Adopt slower, more sustainable travel options for adventures.

Sofie waiting for the Flixbus at Paris on our way out to Chamonix, with duffel bags full to the brim for company.

This should arguably be #1. I firmly believe we in the outdoorsy community can and should do more to reduce our impact, to behave responsibly and refuse to jump on cheap flights when possible. It’s not always easy, especially if time and/or money is tight, but I want to explore alternative travel options to flying at each and every opportunity. This means looking specifically at:

1. Hitch-hiking

2. Coach

3. Rail

Further to the lower impact, I much prefer these forms of slower travel. What they all share is a gradual transition from your start location to your end destination, rather than catapulting you from one place to another, a mental shock I’ve never found easy to deal with.