"Mud spatters up your back. Sweat crusting under the brim of your sunhat. Perspiration dribbling down your spine as that grin… oh that grin… spreads from ear to ear. Out here, roaming this trail, you are performing unapologetically at your wildest and it feels damn amazing!"
But in the thick of 2020, when the winds of life blew cobwebs and dust over all of us, we came to the realisation that our thinking needed to change.
You will be remembered for a long time! You generated stories that we will share with our children, strengthened our social bonds, and unearthed the values that keep us ticking most authentically.
2020. I am so grateful for you and that you shifted the earth so that I was once again forced to stop, reflect and grow wilder. You have taught me many little lessons which I now want to reflect on with you.
I was moving too fast through the world
I love life. I am excited to roll out of bed every day, shrug off the doona and race outside to see the world awaken. I am eager for work far more days than I am not, and I get excited leaning into new projects and challenges. In previous years, travel was frequent and exciting. Missions bountiful. The tent got a great workout too. Which left the core of Hanny in a dust storm as she watched her alter ego race off into the distance. It hasn’t been until I slowed and began to spend more days and evenings at home or exploring locally here in Tasmania that I realized there were so many moments & gems that I was missing out on.
2020, I thank you for slowing me down… A little ☺
I value intimate relationships
2020, you have highlighted our social natures. ‘Virtual’ became a term even my grandmother understood! However, this increased use of technology highlighted our deepest desire for authentic, intimate connections. A candlelit dinner with my husband. A hug from Mum. Or an elderflower mojito with my father at our favourite bookstore when it reopened.
2020, I thank you for connecting me authentically.
Creativity is vital!
All work and no play dulled my inner sparkles. Whilst we had to lean in, I also learnt that I needed to lean out. So despite the events unfolding, I finished & published my memoir called Finding My Feet: My Story, began a new journal, and then enrolled in adult education art classes. There was no greater joy than trundling down to my local library, paint pots and brushes tucked under my arm, to paint and eat cookies with seniors twice my age.
2020, thank you for reminding me that creativity makes my sparkles shine brighter.
Goals hold us accountable, dreams fuel our fires
A common phrase I heard this year was, ‘I need a goal to keep me going!’ But events were cancelled, National Parks were closed and missions became harder to attain. The goals of our past – those Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-locked events were hard to come by. On the other-hand, dreams weren’t!
During the thick of the 2020 firestorm our house was on fire. I felt at risk of losing everything. Thankfully our community came to our rescue. So too did dreams! On the hardest days I would dream of mountain time, running wilder and afterwards diving into fresh Tasmanian waters, my tent waiting nearby to hug me. It was this dream that fueled my fire and I knew it would become a reality, my reward for leaning into the discomfort… and it did! I now prioritise dreaming wilder over goal setting. Where goals can hold me accountable, I use dreams to keep my inner fires burning brightest.
2020, I thank you for helping me realise that goals may hold me accountable but it is my dreams that fuel my fire.
Experiences are invaluable
Dreams alive, inner flames fueled, I frequently reflected on past experiences for added mojo. This made me realise the importance of my lived experiences, those moments when I have leaned into fear, discomfort, excitement or newness. Because these moments, such as my solo traverse of the Western Arthurs mountain range in March, or the Pyrenees Traverse in 2019, helped keep my mojo brimming. Such reflections would highlight, ‘This is what I live for!’.
2020, I thank you for reminding me to keep striving for a life that will make me jealous when I am older and greyer.
Less is more
2020, despite your turmoil, I reduced my working hours. The end of my work week would approach and I recognized unproductiveness – thick thinking, languid writing, surface conversations. So, I took Wednesday as my weekly sabbatical. I roamed longer, refilled the fridge and enrolled in an art class. Now the end of my week is as productive as the beginning.
2020, I thank you for showing me that less is always more, even when I might beg to disagree.
Honesty is my number one value
But there were still tears! When the business was teetering and the doors were effectively closed, Graham and I sat with our Find Your Feet Team at the back of our Hobart store and cried together. Sharing the honesty of this moment with them, showing vulnerability in our emotions, knowledge and skillsets helped pull us even closer together.
2020, I thank you for reiterating the importance of honesty to anchor me to my most authentic self, and to others.
Humans are not designed to live indoors
We got told to stay home, remain indoors. We all rebelled and stretched every rule to its maximum for a few extra whiffs of fresh air. I found I needed it for earthing, creativity and to keep my playful spirit alive.
2020, I thank you for helping me live outdoors more and unapologetically.
I cannot wait to be a mother!
I had sat on the fence for a while, pondering. My husband too. We would peer into the parental unknown and wondered what it would feel like to push through the tall grass over there with a kiddo in tow. We would then look back at our past with confidence knowing, ‘yep, there was plenty of green grass to enjoy there’. But in 2020 we fell off the fence and Kiddo soon smiled back at us from the ultrasound screen. Knowing how unfair this journey can be for others, we are just so grateful for this gift and the understanding that as soon as we started walking towards parenthood it felt oh-so-right. 2020, I thank you for the blessing of approaching motherhood and I just can’t wait for the excuse to live through the eyes of a child once again.
So, 2020, you were one massive, freefalling, snowball of a year! But I thank every moment, day, week and month for the lessons you have taught me, and I also thank all those who walked besides, in front or behind us, giving us added strength. May 2021 continue to consolidate, inspire and help us all find our wilder wings. Yes, 2021, I look forward to meeting you!
PS. Further highlights include:
This blog was prepared for participants heading into the Margaret River Ultra Marathon. This 80km event is hosted in southern Western Australia by Rapid Ascent. It is a joy to be the official coaching provider for this great event!
Wow! Time has flown and I cannot believe that this Margaret River Ultra experience is here already! I just wanted to provide you with some final well-wishes, tips and tricks to ensure you perform wilder on the event day.
If you need more tips and tricks, check out my Find Your Feet Podcast and Blog at www.hannyallston.com.au There are also lots of wonderful tips and tricks in my The Trail Running Guidebook.
Finally, I just want to thank everyone for their incredible support of my little business, Find Your Feet during these really strange and uncertain times. We have loved helping so many of you prepare for this event and to find your feet too. We would warmly welcome you all onto one of our Trail Running Tours & Retreats if you need some rest, recuperation and more playfulness after your Margaret River Ultra experience. We are always here with our Find Your Feet store to assist you with all your trail running & adventure needs.
Well, best wishes to you. May you thrive on 17th October!
“Hey Hanny, I’ve been following one of your training plans quite closely over the last 3 months or so... and had literally just finished my 5hr long run when news broke that my goal event, Run Larapinta, is not going ahead until May 2021. I am devastated and sore and feel so deflated ☹️ I wonder how I will pick myself up and motivate myself to start all over again with the same goal next year? I really want to do this, but I feel so frustrated at coming so close... I don’t know how I can get excited or motivated again when the dream has been crushed!?! 😭”
This message arrived in my inbox this morning and I felt strongly compelled to support all our Run Larapinta aspirants as they navigate the complex world of delayed events and ‘crushed dreams’. Here is my response to her…
WORDS OF GUIDANCE FOR ATHLETES AFFECTED BY THE SURF COAST CENTURY CANCELLATIONS.
Toes are tingling, we are playing hard and the body is beginning to edge towards pre-race sparkles. Then you check your email… Surf Coast Century is postponed until December 5?! Damn! Bummer!
I just want to be here, right now, and say – not to worry! We can catch this curve ball with both hands and use the pause in our training game to be even more fighting fit for Event Day in December. So, here are my suggestions…
By Rob Shaw
Rob Shaw is a famous Tasmanian Sports Journalist, The Examiner Newspaper sports reporter, and author. It was a joy to sit with Rob and chat about my book, deep love of Tasmania and the reason why I wanted to share my story.
"Admitting 34 is a bit young to be writing an autobiography, Allston said: "I always envisaged writing a memoir when I was grey and old but I had been burning to get the story out."
This article appeared in The Mercury newspaper in response to the imminent release of my new memoir, Finding My Feet: My Story. I felt very vulnerable and exposed by the article's spotlight on my past challenges with Anorexia. However, since its release I have received overwhelming support & gratitude from my community. Thank you to everyone who has held a safe space for me to share my story, including both the highs and the struggles.
I just tripped over a root. The trail is at that annoyingly can-see can’t-see phase, where darkness meets dawn and dawn meets day. Under my head torch, the definition of the trail’s lumps and bumps cannot be identified. Damn it! I run around the trail’s bends, my thoughts curving one way and then another. Work to relationships. Niggling hamstring to the chill blains on my feet. Work again. Hammy again. What to have for breakfast? Dinner? Work yet again. Round and round and round I go. Running brings me so much calmness!?
The following email was sent to me by a member of our wilder community. I found resonance in her correspondence because we all lose our mojo at times, buried by life’s shoulds. Today I write to help this individual, and in doing so, I hope to help all of us to find our mojo and live in alignment with our truth.
Q: …After injuries and then life struggles, my current problem is that I should be training for an event in October. I have your Training Planner and know I should have commenced a few weeks ago. But again, I am my own worst enemy and I am finding that I lack motivation. I am probably beyond hope and really, I guess this email is more about me offloading to share my struggles and frustrations. I guess what I was hoping you might be able to tell me is - How to get back on track? How do I get past feeling a little afraid to go out on my own again, even when I know I’m fine and I will love it? How do I find my motivation again to get the work done? How do I push myself to actually follow advice and a plan? Where do I start!?
Here is my reply:
Joining Lincoln Quilliam on the Hobart Trail Runners Facebook Page, we informally chatted about writing my new memoir called Finding My Feet: My Story, and wilder adventures. In this conversation, we also discussed my 19-day French Pyrenees Traverse, the South-Coast Track in Tasmania, Federation Peak FKT, and then the Western Arthurs solo trail running mission. I also highlight the journey I have been on since leaving competitive running, and how I have found my feet in my trail running by falling in love with wilder missions. We discuss the importance of harmonising all this with recuperation and calmness, and how I have been dabbling in yoga, meditation and writing to really find myself. This was a joyful conversation that I hope you will enjoy as must as I enjoyed hosting it!
At the end of 2005 I teetered on one leg, wondering how I was ever going to return to my competitive dreams. An ankle reconstruction threatened my future sporting career. Following this, life threw even more curve balls my way and I felt like I was stuck in a hole. But what kept me alive was a big, hairy, audacious dream. I wanted to be a World Champion!
When the day of the Junior World Titles in Lithuania arrived, I knew I would win. This was an ego-aside moment. Rather, there was simply no alternative. I was so prepared, mentally, physically and even spiritually, that the result was inevitable. I had done the work, tested my tools, and mentally rehearsed through all the challenges that might hit me in the race. I had stood on the tops of mountains and said my silent prayers, run through the moments of doubt, and through all of it, I had found utter joy in the journey to be there in that World Championship moment. Yep, I was so damn ready to be a World Champion.
I want this sure-fire confidence for you too. I want you to be your own champion! Damn it, I want it for me again too because there is no greater feeling than running along a wilder trail with self-confidence fuelling your engines.
By Miriam Palmer
*Miriam Palmer is a social orienteer and shares with Hanny her love of wild places, although at a somewhat slower place.
Hanny Allston’s autobiography Finding My Feet is a definite read. Especially in these uncertain times when you might be facing unexpected challenges, reflecting on what life is all about, or simply feeling stir crazy, trapped at home and struggling to focus. Maybe also, you want to run faster, push yourself further or stop hitting the wall on your own epic adventures. There really is something in Finding my Feet for everyone, and in ways you might not expect.
My struggle is that my work and personal life are feeling blurred. I now realise that the commute to work is a hard boundary but as I work from home I am not able to find this separation. My challenge is to find a new boundary at home because otherwise it becomes exhausting. I also have to consciously stop “overdoing it”, but rather to find time to slow down and go deep into quietness. Most of all, have gratitude that I still have a job ❤
After reading this comment that was made in response to my post on ‘hormonal stress’ I was inspired to write about some of the practical ways that I am trying to separate work, ‘training’ and home life. The challenge of establishing boundaries between work and ‘life’ within our homes is a real and crucially important one. It is a current issue but also a lesson that is invaluable to learn for longer term wellness. So, today I have decided to share what Graham and I are trying to do to create separation from our home and work environments.
Parks are closed. Trails too. Events are cancelled and we are dusting off our road-running shoes. Yes, we are living in a sensation of limited freedom. But today I share how it is the choices we make that will give us back our wings. Here are my suggestions for ensuring that you thrive through these challenges.
This morning I received this query from a trail runner who has been utilising my trail running training planners for her preparation for Ultra Trail Australia.
I am following your UTA50 trail running training planner which I finding to be great & flexible for my needs.
But … with the postponement of Ultra Trail Australia events coming up in May I’m wondering how to go forward from here with my training schedule? I know it may not be easy to work it out as there is no time frame involved yet for the event to go ahead but any advice you could give to me & other runners training for UTA would be so greatly appreciated.
This is a very big challenge as we now find ourselves rapidly changing tact in the face of massive event cancellations and more time spent at home. This has certainly been front and centre of mind for me. So, today I want to provide some advice for how we can ‘change tact’, including how to prepare for an event if you are unsure of when the race date will be. Here are my suggestions:
I recently toed the start line of the 102km Tarawera Ultra Marathon and I am not ashamed to say that my motivation was three pronged – to experience being ‘back in the action’, to see this beautiful New Zealand landscape, but also to prove a point to myself – I am an athlete!
An unlikely story of strength and resilience
I am completely fascinated by the strength of our minds so over the last 12-months I have been studying advanced coaching techniques, such as Neurolinguistics Programming (how to reprogram our internal dialogue), hypnotic skills and visualization. This study has brought a huge year of growth and change, a welcome addition to my peak performance coaching.
Millions of our native animals have been killed or injured in the Australian wildfires that still ravage our National Parks, alpine country & communities. Like many others, I simply cannot sit back and watch. Whilst I wish I could do more, I believe that helping begins with a small step in any direction. So I choose to run for our wildlife.
ON SUNDAY 12TH JANUARY RUN FOR OUR WILDLIFE - All you need to do is go for a run. Grab your friends, join a local event, find a trail, or run along a winding road to somewhere beautiful. Please, please, please take yourself on a running mission and as you do, spare a thought for our wildlife & the volunteers striving to care for them! After your run, share your adventure with our entire running community using #runforwildlife#playwilder then donate funds to NSW Wildlife Information & Rescue. Collectively, can we raise over $10,000 for our native wildlife?
I am running to raise money for NSW WILDLIFE INFORMATION RESCUE AND EDUCATION SERVICE INCORPORATED and your contribution will make an impact, whether you donate a lot or a little. Anything helps. Thank you for your support. I've included information about NSW WILDLIFE INFORMATION RESCUE AND EDUCATION SERVICE INCORPORATED below.
WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service) mission is to actively rehabilitate and preserve Australian wildlife and inspire others to do the same. WIRES has over 2500 volunteers and a Rescue Office that operates 365 days a year assisting the community to help native animals in distress. WIRES assists tens of thousands of animals every year and last financial year received over 95,000 requests for rescue assistance.
To donate please follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/donate/1011136092594348/2558544374406215/
Every cent counts and I am just SO grateful to every single individual willing to contribute.
Thank you. Thank you for taking the time out from the hustle and bustle of this festive season to read this letter. Thank you for using this moment to reflect on a year unfolded and a year about to be created. Each one of us holds the seeds for change, growth and untapping our greatest potential. And if we are thriving, we can be the change that we wish to see in the world, the spark of inspiration for others. That is what I hope to bring to you today as I reflect on my own year and the 12 defining moments that encapsulate it.
I am thrilled to be featured in the latest edition of Sharp Traveller! In this article we delve into how the Find Your Feet Tours started, and why we're so excited to be guiding our inaugural Flinders Island Find Your Feet Tour during November!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.