Count up the number of gadgets you have in your life that purport to make your life easier. Go on, I dare you!
We live in a world where our comfort zone is ever-expanding, we are closeted by health and safety, and jobs that used to require effort are done in an instant.
But something is missing.
There are times when we need to push technology to one side and undertake a task that requires effort, fortitude and – sometimes - blood, sweat and tears. We need to step out of that comfort zone, start something that we have no guarantee of finishing, and find out what makes us tick at a more primeval level.
This is where we turn to the mountains. What could be more primeval than chunks of rock formed over millions of years? So we challenge ourselves against them; we take them on.
I love the fact that, when I stand on the start line of a 100-mile mountain trail race, I have no idea if I will finish. It’s me against the mountains; sometimes the mountains win. If I do finish, it was my legs that took me round, not a gadget.
Training is an opportunity to get a daily hit of competition against nature and the elements. If I want that amazing view, I’ve got to get myself up the mountain. When we are out in the mountains, we are as close as we can be to getting off-grid. The phone may still be there for safety, but our body and mind have other priorities in that moment. I don’t want to rock the boat too much, but some stress is good for you. I’m not talking about chronic psychological and emotional stress that leaves us drained and burnt out. I’m talking about eustress, or positive stress, that gets us excited and encourages us to take on more difficult challenges. It’s the difference between a threat and a challenge.
When we take on the outdoors, we do so by choice. We experience eustress, we get excited, the body releases endorphins, and we feel happy. Why wouldn’t you?