Say Yes More… These three simple words are what encouraged me to take action and set the ball rolling for a brilliant running weekend micro adventure in Spain. How? If we rewind a couple of weeks to when the monthly newsletter from my sponsor WAA the French endurance equipment company popped into my inbox it should make sense. I scanned through the usual athlete results and equipment updates then my eyes stumbled across an invitation to take part in the 3CIMS (Summits) trail race in Vilafames just north of Valencia. The ideas of "Say Yes More" and "microadventures" that I'd discovered online surfaced from deep within my unconscious mind followed by a moment of blind irrational thought as my fingers tapped my positive response.
"Say yes and you'll figure it out afterward" Tina Fay
The biggest problem (or excuse) we face in our daily lives in the 21st century is lack of time. Our schedules are rammed with back to back work, life, training and family commitments and it's inevitable we fall into a predictable clockwork routine from day to day, week to week and month to month. This inspired Alistair Humphreys, the adventurer, author and motivational speaker to coin the term "microadventures” aka short, thrilling trips that fit in around our work and family commitments.
The idea is to look beyond our usual 9-to-5 jobs and think about the opportunities from 5-to-9 and Friday evening to Monday morning. The slightly simplistic mathematical calculation illustrates the average full time worker in the UK works 37.4 hours (Financial Times, 2015) at work. That's 130.6 hours left over to inject some adventure into your life (and I totally appreciate time for commuting, shopping, every day life administration, family commitments, the to-do list, etc.).
Back to the 3 CIMS Spanish, trail race, weekend adventure; the thirty-kilometre route wound its way through picturesque olive and almond groves with gorgeous views towards the Mediterranean Sea. At times the ability to actually "run" was completely impossible as an accumulative height gain of 1,700m meant the course snaked its way up steep rugged climbs with a couple of runged ladders thrown in for good measure. Every five kilometres or so, fully stocked aid stations provided a welcome respite with hearty shouts of "Go Inglesia" from local supporters. My usual weekend run along Avon and Kennet Canal with the ducks and pirates (otherwise known as stag parties onboard canal boats) for company seemed a distant world. The red carpet finally beckoned 3hrs 48mins 34secs later where I crossed line as 2nd lady and 41st out of 168 competitors.
One way to embrace adventure is to nurture a positive mindset at the core and simply "Say Yes More". Dave Cornthwaite, adventurer, author, record breaker and story-teller created project Say Yes More in 2012. He believes "It’s the key to not letting life pass you by. It’s easy to get into a habit, and when that habit is ‘no’ by default you end up hiding away, not challenging yourself and instead growing stale. Saying yes more means you become more interesting, you create memories and learn new skills”.
I’ve been inspired by Alistair and Dave the creators behind the microadventure concept and Say Yes More. Join the Say Yes More community and embark on your own running microadventure whether it’s checking out a different Parkrun venue, adding a twist to the classic European city break with a local race, catching up with friends living in a far flung part of the UK to explore unknown trails or simply turning left instead of right out the front door to break free from your weekly routine.
There’s a global running community simply waiting for you to spread your wings outside your neighbourhood (and the UK!) with thousands of local races beyond the over priced, over branded and over hyped furor. When will you say "Yes" and head out on your own microadventure?
Massive thanks to Rober Gil and Vilafames running club for their amazing hospitality, WAA for advertising the opportunity through their athlete network, Danny my long suffering coach for adapting my training plan (again) and Ben who always supports my crazy endeavours. Hopefully he'll be able to join my next spontaneous adventure either running or something completely different.
3CIMS Trail Race: http://www.cmvilafames.es/trail/
Alistair Humphreys Microadventures: http://www.alastairhumphreys.com/microadventures-3/
Average hours by UK full-timers fell in 2015 in Financial Times: https://www.ft.com/content/d417b16e-2185-3124-aedf-d5fb9428d3dc
Postcard from ... the North Downs in Financial Times: https://www.ft.com/content/652d85da-b6f9-11e2-a249-00144feabdc0
Yestival: http://sayyesmore.com/ethos/ accessed 29 Sep 16
WAA Ultra Endurance Equipment: http://www.waa-ultra.com/en/
Anna-Marie is a performance coach and founder of Reach for More. She loves heading into the great outdoors running and has Cappadocia Ultra Trail World Tour Future Series and The OMM left in the 2016 race calendar. Anna-Marie is supported by Ultra Trail World Tour (UTWT) and the French endurance company WAA.