Never one to shy away from a challenge, Jacqui Frost recently undertook her hardest challenge to date. In this article, Jacqui shares her experience, and how her epic walking adventure got her really thinking about teams, resilience and much, much more!
I had plenty of “thinking time” on the 100km trek from Richmond Park to Brighton, in fact 25 hours of thinking time. Starting at 7.00am on Saturday 27th May, an overnight stay in a tent in a field somewhere in Sussex, then a 6.00am start to make our way to Brighton gave me an abundance of time!
Time to listen to music, and my special playlist for the adventure, to listen to a book, to look and immerse myself in the surroundings from the back streets of Croydon (not so pleasant) to the rolling countryside of the South Downs and to think!
I walked with my younger sister, Hanny and a close friend Sara, we were a team!
We had trained and planned this event together. However, we had agreed at the outset we all needed to walk at our own pace during the actual event. You can’t walk at someone else’s pace if it’s too fast it’s exhausting and if it’s too slow it’s exhausting.
It became apparent from the first rest stop about 12km in that we needed to split up.
In an attempt to “fuel” I ate a flapjack and the combination of heat and physical exertion caused to me throw up on a pavement somewhere near Carshalton- lovely!
Apologies to the residents of Carshalton!
My sister and Sara were at least 500 metres ahead of me at this point, I wasn’t calling them back.
By the time I got to the next stop at 16km my right heel was falling off! I spent 45 minutes in the medical tent getting ” taped up”, having blisters popped with a sterile needle… my blisters had blisters! Paracetamol was the order of the day.
So even though we were ” a team” I couldn’t’ and wouldn’t hold them back. I knew I would be visiting the next five medical tents on the way to Brighton and spending at least 30 minutes having my feet taped back up. The state of my feet for the last 11km was pretty grim. A medic cautioned me by telling me there was a really steep climb on the next leg, steep and the surface was very uneven and stony. Had I thought of maybe calling it a day?
“Calling it a day?”
I hadn’t walked 89km to fall at the last hurdle, even if I had to crawl, I would get to the finishing line.
I did make the finishing line up right.
Yes, I was the last one in nearly 3 hours behind my close friend and an hour behind my sister. I had said they shouldn’t wait for me at the end as they would get cold and seize up but, there they were at the finish line waiting for me! That’s what a team does.
Sometimes a team needs to split up and do things at their own pace, their own way and in their own time. Yes, there must be a cut-off point and some coming together to check in on progress etc.
We came together at 56km for a delightful (NOT!) night of camping and over breakfast decided my friend should sprint off, my sister and I started together for a while, but she then went ahead.
What we hadn’t realised we needed was a support person, and my friend’s son took this role on brilliantly. This was a last-minute decision, he drove us down to Richmond, then met us at the campsite with our sleeping bags and pillows… he was critical to our success!
- Being in a team is NOT about being joined at the hip.
- Teams need to flex and mould with conditions and the abilities of individuals.
- Teams need support and someone on the outside looking in.
- Teams do not compete against each other.
My adventure also reaffirmed for me what resilience is and why as humans we push ourselves out of our comfort zone.
Going beyond what you think you are capable of is essential for building your resilience.
Rehearsing what you might do or say in the event of a challenge or crisis, takes you there, to that place, that event, that interaction and allows you to plan, review, adapt and consolidate what you could or might do.
It allows you to see and hear yourself doing the “thing” that could potential cause you stress or pressure.
It is more sophisticated than ” just doing it” or “facing your fear,- however that attitude does have a place at times!
If you really want to strengthen your resilience you can do it, but you need to do it consciously.
Resilience is about moving forward, bouncing forward whilst acknowledging all that is testing you. Building your resilience allows you to navigate all life throws at you.
This is a photo of a woman who tested her resilience as she faced another day of walking, after 56km on day one and a night in a tent!
I had taken myself to the worst scenarios I could think of. I had explored all the things that had the potential to make me doubt myself. I had action planned for these times, I made a plan, I rehearsed what I could do and say to myself along that second leg of 44km.
No doubt I sounded like a mad woman as I muttered and sang along the route- but it worked for me!
Find the thing that works for you!
Resilience is about taking all the learnings from life, the good, the bad and the ugly and truly learning from them. No replaying past events to torture yourself and explore the “what if” but to learn.
We have already collated all our learnings from this adventure into a list, a list which we will use for planning the Thames Path Ultra 100km in September 2024.
Don’t say it, I know! It only took 24 hours to decide this was our next challenge.
How I can support you.
Do you know how to Optimise your Team?
I can help and guide you with this, and I promise it doesn’t involve a 100km team building walk