Challenging myself

I’m disappointed in myself.

That’s nothing new for my life is a perpetual disappointment and I am at the centre if it. Grand plans, big ideas, things I should have done; all fallen by the wayside, left in the Lay-by along life’s winding road. Discarded like some empty crisp packet.

Motivation has often been hard to come by. Perhaps I’m lazy or perhaps, and more likely, I’ve never found it easy to motivate myself to something I don’t enjoy. I write but occasionally the mood deserts me or I start and my characters annoy me or I can’t get the dialogue right or it sounds just wrong.

Having fibromyalgia is annoying as the motivation to move physically is counterbalanced by the inevitable stiffness and pain that will precede and follow my movements. And there are many days when I would rather just slump in a chair and give up rather than move.

So I’m quite often disappointed with myself and even when I do achieve, I’m never quite satisfied that I did enough or went far enough or fast enough.

Which is where virtual challenges come in.

I was on Facebook one day, minding my own business, when an advert popped up and in the advert was a picture of a shiny medal. I was intrigued and the more I read, the more intrigued I became.

Yes, there’s a cost involved and yes, you can cheat but what if you don’t? What if you actually challenge yourself to achieve something?.

Over the last few months I have climbed Mount Fuji, clambered up Mount Kilimanjaro twice, I have had two enthralling trips around the Pyramids of Giza, walked from Delhi to the Taj Mahal. I have walked around Easter Island, reached the summit of Everest and as I write this I am striding (hobbling) along Hadrian’s Wall, swimming the English Channel and having my second trek to Macchu Pichu. Oh, and I have just been to Athens and had a fantastic walk through Rome.

I may not be able to do 25km a day and some people knock these things off at a frightening pace but that doesn’t matter. It’s you, against a time frame you set and which you can test yourself against, with a lovely medal waiting for you at the end.

My second Egyptian medal

And best of all there’s a community. You cheer on others, admire their medals, offer congratulations and suggestions, support and commiserations when injury strikes.

Of course you get one or two who take it mega seriously but generally we just get along and irrespective of how long it took, or what activities you counted (You can count every step you take or specific activities towards your target), we just share in each other’s success and eagerly await the next new challenge to be announced.

And some are huge. I have done relatively modest challenges but some are over 1000Km in length and even longer. Route 66, the Cabot Trail, the Great Wall of China are of not insignificant length.

But there is that feeling of achievement, the fact that you’ve done something. Sure you can cheat and inflate the steps or you can just let your fitness app do all the work for you. I use two companies, one does it for me whilst the other I input manually. I count every step my phone or watch says I’ve done and to me that’s fair, I’ve walked those distances, no cheating, no exercise bikes nor treadmills, just one foot in front of the other.

232km and well worth it!.

You get virtual postcards, snippets of information along the way, a certificate you can print and one company even plants a tree for every 20% of the challenge you complete so I’m also contributing something in that small way.

And I’m reminded. I’m reminded of wonderful Egypt, of the beauty of the Taj, places I have been, and I’m learning about Rome, Athens, Easter Island, places I might never go to but now feel as though I have, albeit virtually.

I know they’s about £20-25 each with postage, but it’s got me moving, it’s got me travelling, even if that’s only virtually, and for me, it’s been a godsend.

So here’s to a few more. Australia perhaps, or Rio, another trip to Everest base camp, England coast to coast and who knows, perhaps one day I’ll start, and finish, Lands End to John O’Groats or something even bigger.

So it’s travel, it’s not the travel I’m used to, but it is travel.

Virtually anything is possible. Literally.