One of my favourite parts of my job is when our fundraisers get down from their mountain. Albeit, the odour of a week of hard physical activity combined with not having a shower is quite strong, but there is also an aura of amazement and euphoria from each team. They have just returned from pushing themselves physically and mentally further than they ever have before and completed a challenge they have been focused on for nearly a year. They created a bond with strangers they will never forget and conquered on the most challenging treks in the world.
Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya - some of the most beautiful places on the planet!
A big shout out to our fundraisers that maintain a 97% success point of reaching the highest point in Africa! (The average on the Machame route is around 63%).
Another favourite part of my job is climbing our Dig Deep Mountains myself. So to all our brave fundraisers, here’s a few pieces of advice from one mountain climber to another, as to what you can do to prep yourself for your challenge.
Firstly, physical training – if you’ve never completed a physical challenge before, you’re probably not sure what’s best. Despite many people telling me that I do not look like a runner, it’s how I chose to keep fit and train for Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya. For those of you who think that sounds like a terrible form of exercise there are plenty more ways to train. Think legs; every day is leg day on the mountain. They’ll be needed all the way up and all the way back down – never underestimate the strength you need to walk downhill for 2 days.
Feeling Strong at Lava Tower, Acclimatisation Day 4,600m
Make sure your legs are used to being used is what I always advice to our Dig Deepers! Walk to uni (the long way round of course) or hit the cross trainer or a bike at the gym for 20-30 minutes a few times a week. You will feel the difference within a few weeks.
Follow your cardio with some weights as per our training plane here. This is very similar to what Challenge Manager Jo Black followed for 3-4 months and she flew up Kili! Feeling braver? Book yourself into a weekly spin class or HIIT class. Test out and improve your fitness by coming to our Snowdon weekend to experience hiking the hills for 2 consecutive days!
Dig Deep Scale some Welsh Heights on the Annual Snowdon Trip
Of course there is the mental preparation as well. That will come during your training, it’s important to have confidence you CAN push yourself physically and mentally. Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya are beautiful treks and I wasn’t bored for a single moment on either, but sometimes you just want to STOP WALKING either because your legs or tired or just so you can do something that doesn’t involve moving.
Sheffield and Lincoln University featuring Challenge Team Members Jo Black and Sarah Caroll
In your training try to incorporate activities that are outside your comfort zone, for example, running further than you ever have before or going to the real loud fitness class you’ve always avoided. The reward of reaching a goal you weren’t sure you could get to is where the high from climbing a mountain comes from and it’s good to get a bit of practice in for what kind of thought processes you might go through. If you’ve pushed yourself beyond your bounds before you climb, you’ll know you can do it when you’re up there – above the clouds! You’ve got to believe you can do it. Side note: you definitely can!
I feel like now would be a good time to mention some motivational quotes my Dad tries to encourage me with.
Top 5 quotes from Rob Caroll:
Mind over matter!
It’s all in your head!
Turn those nerves into positivity and excitement
Enjoy the challenge – you’ll learn new things about yourself
Just Do It (my least favourite but sometimes it works)
The team having some feelings
You’ll come up with crazy ideas to keep each other going, embrace the funny things that altitude does to your brain! On summit night, Sheffield Group Leader Sam Morley told me to name all the prime numbers I could in my head to keep me distracted. At 5,500m and 10% less oxygen reaching my brain I found this hilarious and a suitable distraction from my lack of sleep.
Jo and I for the life of us could not stop singing from the bottom to the top, I know our team was sick of us by the end but 100% of us made it, so I think the stats speak for themselves.
Look after each other and keep your eyes on the prize! You’ll be sharing your nerves on day 1, singing songs to each other to keep you going on day 3 and then crying on each other above the clouds when you summit.
There was just enough energy left for us to have a cry