I have always been active. My parents took me to dance lessons when I was 4, the joke being that he didn’t want any more cracks in the ceiling from me leaping around. My love of leaping around has continued to this day, with classes in ballet, contemporary, street and time in a dance company.
As a family we weren’t particularly sporty, but often outside, on holiday in the country, up hills and at the beach. Once at school I did everything I possibly could. The PE department was my safe place and I was lucky to have wonderful teachers who took me under their wing. I was bullied throughout school, by girls who couldn’t handle that I was skinny and had lots of male friends. They didn’t get that it was because I actually joined in the sports alongside them, rather than just giggling at them. So sport was my saviour. I was good at it and I enjoyed it. I was in teams ranging from the classic netball, hockey and athletics, to performing dance and trampoling. I had tennis lessons, joined the county hockey club and athletics club. As a family we skied and I wish I’d taken up the opportunity to join the local youth Olympic ski team. I tried everything; badminton, volleyball and rounders. I spent morning training for cross country, wishing my coach would stop giving me instructions so I could just get in my zone and run.
However, I’ve now realised, I wasn’t very good at training to improve. That and I was afraid of failing, or maybe even of succeeding. Each time I was on the edge of making it to a higher level, I dropped out. I had a fixed mindset, I was fairly good at most things, but not good at pushing myself to get better. Who knows what might have happened if I’d had a different mindset, or family / coaches that recognised this and enabled me to develop?
Although my mindset is now better, this is probably one of the reasons I now don’t do as much exercise as I did. During my twenties I was an outdoor education instructor, so I was active all day and our free time was usually spent doing the sports we instructed. But once I stopped instructing (due to finally giving in the various injuries I’d collected over the years of doing sport), it wasn’t as easy to keep fit. I had to find time and energy to do it around a more sedentary job. I was struggling to find activities I was passionate about and could do easily. Climbing was one sport that I loved and joining my local outdoor club meant that I again had a group of great people to go out and be active with.
I highly recommend anyone wanting to get involved more in sport to find a club, it’s great motivation and support and I’ve made friends for life (oh – and gained a boyfriend who’s also great at motivating me to get outside!)
Injury and health issues have also affected me throughout my life and over the years I’ve had to adjust what I do, which has been hard. Recently I had to go through a kind of mourning period about not being about to climb and dance as I did. But there has always been something else I can do. Five years ago I didn’t think I’d love road cycling and be aiming to do a 100mile event.
It’s also meant I’ve focused on learning to swim properly, again something I shied away from (see previous blog). I have stand-up paddle boarding on my list to learn this summer. I’ve done yoga since my early twenties and realised how important that has been for both body and mind. You’ve just got to find what you love and do it.
Now my battle is to deal with that mindset about working hard and getting out there when I’m tired. I know what my body can and can’t do so I need to remember that generally, I always feel better after exercise and activity. That photos of me doing sport and activity nearly always show me smiling.
Everyone’s journey in sport is different, you might have been sporty as a child like me, or not. You may be passionate and immersed in one sport, or it might depend on what you fancy that day. It might be inside, or out. With others or by yourself. It might be more about getting outside, climbing trees and jumping streams. I just want everyone to find something they can do and can love, because it’s so important for your physical and mental wellbeing.
So – just do it.
Find out more and reading my musings on life on my blog
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