Originally written and published in the Women's Outdoor Adventure Magazine Travel, Play, Live.
A red orb of sun rises over the expansive, glass-like ocean. Red shoes gripped to vast slabs of granite whose prominence rise into a sky speckled with clouds. The landscape is painted with the hue of dawn. Right now, right here, I am ticking off a meaningful mission. A skyline traverse of Freycinet’s Hazards Traverse. Out here I am my own athlete carrying the lessons from my elite running career in my vest pack, lessons fueling me with the knowledge that I can keep myself safe and content in this rugged terrain.
Balancing here on the edge of a shear drop into the ocean below me I feel poised between the lifecycle of the competitive athlete and the adventurous freespirit that I am beginning to identify with. To reach this position I had to navigate my own race, a warren of emotions, nagging internal chatter and external opportunities. The race lasted years. I would readily grab at the chances to race, and with it, the sponsorships and media engagements. At first this seemed to quiet my fear who whispered, ‘This might be your last chance…’
I have begun to realise that the more we begin to love something, and give it the attention it needs to grow, the more doorways will open. When we begin to master our craft, not only do we subconsciously begin to stretch towards further and more allusive doorways, but we also join the extended family of our craft. We meet friends, we chat, share stories, fuel on one another’s excitement. We race and receive brochures for the next. We are only limited by our own limits. Racing has become a global industry and with internet at our fingertips it is becoming easier and easier to find open doors beautifully carved with the with the announcement, ‘Opportunity!’
Despite these amazing opportunities, I began to realise that these opportunities were actually beginning to bring surmounting internal pressure and were clipping my wilder wings. The races and focus to preparation they required were stealing me away from wilder adventures, family time, Tasmanian hibernation and my creativity, all of which allows me to foster my truest self. Training became intimately tied to racing, rather than about being outside for the simple reason of loving being outside.
Over time I began to feel a dilution of my energy, a feeling of never fulfilling endeavors to my greatest potential, and a sensation of being constantly on the run… literally and in its non-literal sense. I began to miss both the quieter version of Hanny, the one that likes to snuggle up on the couch with a fascinating book and a massive mug of tea, as well as the adventurous free spirit that I find today on these rough granite slabs of Freycinet at day-break.
Today I am awakening to a realization that perhaps it is time to close a few doors? Can I confront my F.O.M.O (Fear of Missing Out) Syndrome, and in doing so, look at blazing my own trail along a ridgeline less travelled?
Closing doors, as opposed to opening them, has been exceptionally difficult for me as it evokes a fear and anxiety that I may miss that golden opportunity. We have been educated to think in this way, educated to ‘Seize the day!’. I get the beauty of this, truly I do. However, I am only just coming to the understanding that this doesn’t necessarily mean filling my life with every event or opportunity to the detriment of my own self-growth, creativity, values and freedom of spirit.
As I have begun to close doors, and in doing so learnt the art of saying, ‘not now’, a strength has boomed that flows into other arms of my life. The other day at work I was grappling with an incredibly difficult decision. Suspended in this process, I could sense a niggle of deep discomfort, a grumpy imp in my gut arguing, ‘Are you striving for long-term fulfilment or short-term satisfaction? Is this F.O.M.O playing out again?’ I would pause in my musings, shake my head and let out a sigh. My internal imp was most likely right. In a moment of self-absorption, my ego was overtaking my values. Removing F.O.M.O the decision became far simpler.
Leaving doors ajar
From my own experience, I just want to quietly caution that the open doorways to racing will always exist. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we should always take them, especially if we are on social media and suffering from a bout of F.O.M.O. For sure, races can be a joyful way of exploring some of our greatest potential, and for partaking in journeys alongside other brightly attired individuals, all feeding off one another to thrive. However, too many and we can begin to dilute our potential, partaking without racing, being there without experiencing, running rather than soaring. If we let ourselves, we can fall into the trap of frequently handing over our energy to a race, leaving our own creative spirit, valuable relationships and dreams to play runner-up.
Today I am learning to leave doorways ajar. This is me boldly saying ‘not now’. When it comes to racing, whilst I am currently not toeing the start lines, I still want to view myself as an athlete exploring for my version of excellence. I aim to live each day in a way that allows me to strive for my greatest potential, training in a way that fuels my ambitions but also with a gentility that enriches my soul. I want to strive when I can whilst rest before I must. I want to learn what nourishes me and to discover my guiding values so that my greatest dreams can evolve. From here I can look at the doorways left ajar. I can choose to either toe a start line or simply to scale peaks, traverse a skyline, shrug off the scratches, and bathe in the icy ocean at the conclusion.
Hanny’s Top 7 Tips for choosing races
• Only choose an event that makes your toes tingle. Try never to catch Fear of Missing Out Syndrome (F.O.M.O)
• Allow a minimum of 5 months between your main goals. That is, race less to race more. Ensure optimal preparation time between each event.
• Train consistently, not just for your race goals, but because you truly love the sensations and experiences being out there, every day brings to you.
• Never race injured
• Set goals for each race based on process not the outcome. Aim to come away enriched by the experience, not merely crossing a finish line.
• For every 10km you race at near maximal effort, allow 1 week for recovery.
• Ask yourself, ‘could there be an alternative adventure in this idea?’
Sometimes the concept of a race can plant a seed for an even wilder adventure!
Be brave. Find your feet. Find your own start line!
These articles are a collection of my writing. If you have feedback or questions, would love to hear from you!