Alternative Training – My first Ultra

Wim Hof Method

The Wim Hof Method explained

The Wim Hof Method can influence your immune and autonomic nerve systems by breath work.  This method involves training and gradual cold exposure.  By bringing this all together this method, once learned, allows you to overcome extreme conditions and supercharge your immune system. The basic method involves alternating between deep breathing and breathe holding. A simple and yet powerful practice.  With focus and commitment, you can learn to control your immune system and autonomic nervous system to improve your circulation, boost energy levels, improve concentration and focus, sleep better, put yourself in a more positive mood and take your performance to a higher level.

January 2017: The Camino – the prelude of my self-actualisation

Walking the Camino and being outdoors, communing with nature on a daily basis allowed change to occur within me.  When I realised there was something missing, I became more curious to finding out what it was.

Every day of my pilgrimage, I realised that the nature I was seeing on my route was becoming more inspiring and was teaching me to break down my thought loops and to ‘let go’ of what was no longer important to me.  My mantra for the Camino was to live each day: “Today is today and tomorrow is tomorrow”.

Each day, I adapted the Wim Hof Method to my Camino. My cold exposures were either cold plunges in rivers, cold showers or walking in shorts.  I adapted my ‘Wim Hof Method breathing technique’ for the Camino and tuned my body and soul (as I did on the mountain in Poland), harvesting my inner strength.  So much so, I knew the weight of my rucksack so well I could tell I if was down to my last chocolate bar of 150g.

March 2017: Life is worth living really well

Back in Cumbria, I continued my connection within nature. I felt different with more inner strength, connection and self-belief than I have ever had before; becoming comfortable in my own skin and trusting my gut feelings.  The year before, I had read some books on ultra-running and somehow the seed was planted that I could do this too.  I entered the Windermere Marathon and Lakeland Trails 55Km. My excitement was less about placement; it was more about self-potential.

My physical advantage was that I had cycled often around the ‘honey pot’ of the Lakes District so I was not a couch potato to ultra.  The only problem was that I didn’t really enjoy running and the furthest I had run was approximately 6 miles, six months earlier.  If I am honest, I was secretly happy to have it confirmed that there was very little time to train the ‘conventional way’ for an endurance run. Upon this news, I decided to be different and train a very different way.

I made my training about aligning myself with nature’s rhythms. It was about investing in myself, stepping outside the conditioned mind, cultivating self-understanding and honing a positive mind-set. Part of my investigation was to pioneer new ways of feeling relaxed and feeling abundantly connected to my body and to nature, in a way that could actually be simpler than what we have been taught in the past.  As ground-breaking as all these technological innovations in tracking apps and GPS watches may be, I found it more powerful to have a more simple and primitive approach.