In 2011, I decided that I needed a physical challenge. I was relatively healthy, but I wanted a physical and mental challenge to work towards, to help drive my training. I also wanted to do something to raise a significant amount of money for charity. I live a very blessed life and I want to do what I can to help others to make a change in their lives for the better.
So I combined the two and did a Charity Challenge.
I chose to do the Trek to the House of the Dalai Lama challenge, which is a five day trek through the foothills of the Himalayas. I had to raise £3,000 for my chosen charity to be able to take part in the trek. My chosen charity was the White Ribbon Alliance who campaign for safe pregnancy and childbirth. I chose this charity as I believe that healthy mums have healthy babies who will grow into healthy adults, so supporting mums can lead to long-term health benefits for their children. Also, 800 women still die every day in childbirth, and most of these deaths are preventable. With small actions, such as education programmes, many lives could be saved.
I was probably quite naive, but I thought it would be easy to raise £3,000 – but it wasn’t and it took me a long time to do this. However, thanks to the generosity of my family, friends and colleagues, and by selling pretty much everything I owned, I was able to raise the £3,000.
I trained for the trek by walking huge distances. Rather than take the bus the ten miles to work, I would walk each way. However, I’m not sure I trained enough as I still found the trek really, really tough.
We set off to India in early September 2011. We had time to acclimatise to the country in Delhi and Dharamsala (where the Dalai Lama lives), then we moved to our base in Bir, a Tibetan village in the foothills of the Himalayas. From here we trekked for five days through the foothills of the Himalayas, going over two or three mountain passes each day.
It was tough. Even though I had trained, I hadn’t trained enough and I struggled. But the support of the group and our guides got me over those mountains, and shanti shanti (gently gently) we climbed the Himalayas. When we got to the end, I cried with relief. For me, the journey had been quite tough mentally. I had been berating myself for being slower than the rest of the group and for not being fit enough – but I did it. I climbed the Himalayas.
There’s such a sense of achievement with a huge physical challenge. I will always be the girl who climbed the Himalayas now – and when I need a mental boost, I remind myself of this. Since doing the trek, I have been braver and more confident in my physical abilities. I’m not a naturally fit person, I’m really bad at team sports and hated P.E. at school – but I could do this, and if I can do this – anyone can. Physical challenges are highly addictive, and I’m currently planning what I should tackle next.
This year, I want to get fit again, and I feel that I need a challenge to drive my fitness training, so I have signed up to do the Moon Walk: a 26 mile walk around London at night. I’ve already started walking further distances and hiking more, and I’m hoping that once the weather improves I can start to build up to some big distances.
I’m really excited to have this physical challenge planned for next year; and I’m looking forward to a healthy, happy 2015.