Hello. My name is Sharon and I’m an A-ha fan!!

There, I’ve said it.  Phew.

I have many happy memories of the 80s music scene – as many of my Back Pain exercise class clients will tell you!

But the A-ha song “Stay on These Roads” brought a smile to my face yesterday during my latest training hike for the 27-mile Peak District 6-Dales Challenge which I’m taking part in on Sat 24th June 2017.

I left Rotherham at 10am to meet up with a walking group in north Sheffield (near Oughtibridge).  I had the post code entered into my new SatNav – an early birthday present, given to me after my last attempt at meeting up with this group went wrong!

I happily followed the directions from the lovely sounding ‘Bruce’ (one of the gorgeous Aussie accents on my SatNav) for 35 minutes.  As I neared my destination, the roads became narrower, steeper, more bendy… They also started to look a bit familiar.  On the third time round the same 1.5 mile loop Bruce kept taking me, I realised I wasn’t going to get to my destination – again!  In frustration, I pulled the car over and burst into tears.

At this point, I had two distinct choices.

A – I could sit and bawl my eyes out, feeling very sorry for myself, and then drive home again (stopping off on the way for some ‘nice’ food to make me feel better) OR

B – I could make the most of this unplanned situation, change into my hiking boots, and go for a walk on my own.

I chose Plan B.  The view from where I parked the car was beautiful – rolling hills and stone walls. As I’d been planning to walk with others who knew the route, I hadn’t brought my OS Explorer Map (OL1) or compass with me.  I therefore decided that the best option would be to “Stay on These Roads” and hike to the next village.

I quite relished the thought of some ‘Pavement Pounding’ after my last two hikes in the snow, ice and slippery mud!

So I set off for the village of Worrall, just over 3.5 miles away.

It was a fairly warm day (11c), with an occasional gentle breeze to wick the sweat from my forehead.  The road was very quiet, and there wasn’t a soul about.

Ideal hiking conditions to let my mind wander back through the past busy week with it’s ups and downs, and to ponder solutions for the things which were bothering me.

As the miles went by and my muscles started to ache, my thoughts turned to how I would cope with walking 27 miles.  The furthest I’ve walked in any one go is 12 miles.  Mental attitude, as any person doing an endurance challenge will tell you, is the largest part of the battle.

I can train for the physical aspects of my forthcoming challenge, but how do I train for the mental element? Should I ask other people how they cope in similar situations??  Should I read up on the mental attitude of famous explorers and endurance athletes??  Maybe.

The one thing which I did decide upon was that mental attitude is very personal.   What works for one person, may not work for another – or at least to the same great extent.  We are all unique individuals – reacting to different events and thoughts based on our previous experiences and beliefs.

Each of us has a choice about how we react to whatever situation we find ourselves in.  We can give up… or we can continue but moan and groan throughout… or we can learn how to be positive in adversity.  From my past challenges, I’ve learnt that if I keep going, the sense of achievement at the end is worthwhile.

Learning from experiences, both good and bad, is a skill worth developing.  I already have a few ideas of what I’ll do to help me get through the tough bits of my 27-mile hike: photos and voice messages from friends and people sponsoring me; Bible verses of encouragement; loud 80s music!!  I’ll develop more tactics and strategies while out on my various training sessions.  As the distances and terrain become more challenging, I’ll learn on-the-job how best to cope.

I made it to Worrall – and the sun came out to greet me too.

I turned round and started back the way I came, humming A-ha tracks to myself and the sheep which I passed.

My pace slowed down on the final 2km back to the car and my body ached. As a distraction, my mind turned to how I would write up my next blog article.

I decided that, as a Specialist Personal Trainer, I wanted to share some exercises which I’m doing to help build up my strength and stamina… just in case you ever decided to do anything crazy like walking 27 hilly miles in 14 hours!

Check out the Exercise blog for details…