‘Grit in psychology is a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s perseverance of effort combined with the passion for a particular long-term goal or end state. This perseverance of effort promotes the overcoming of obstacles or challenges that lie on the path to accomplishment and serves as a driving force in achievement realization.’
As I inevitably get older (and like to kid myself that I’m still as fit as when I was 20) I look for a yearly challenge to test myself in some way. In 2018 I completed the ‘North Norfolk Coastal Marathon’ which despite not training in the manner I should and would if I completed it again, finished and really enjoyed, finding it a very positive challenge. That being said the next day I could only shuffle down the stairs on my behind as my legs no longer wanted to bend in any way at all!
This year I decided to complete the North Norfolk Coastal Trail 47 mile/24-hour walk (I do love Norfolk!) and worked hard to keep my fitness up prior to the day and although not having an abundance of free time to walk for hours completed a number of runs and mountain bike sessions. I was participating with my sister and on the morning, we drove up to Hunstanton to commence what I thought would be a pretty straight forward challenge. Boy was I wrong!! We were split into small teams with a couple of experienced team leaders and set off towards sunny Cromer with high spirits and positive thoughts.
Walking along the beautiful coastline and seeing many places that I had visited with my parents in my youth and now enjoy taking my own children was immensely pleasurable and listening to my team-mates talk about a number of subjects was fascinating. The time ticked on and whilst we kept a good pace a few of the team were beginning to struggle and needed the masseurs and medical assistance at the planned stops. The day turned into night and whilst walking through shingle, listening to the sea in the dead of night I realised that I too was finding this harder than I was expecting. My feet were sore. My muscles ached and I realised just how tired I was. I love my bed and going a night without sleeping was something I just hadn’t accounted for in my training.
At around 3:45am at the last real stop before the final push both my sister and I really chatted about why we were doing this to ourselves and was it really worth it. We had seen Paramedics being called to treat people in a bad way and walkers just call it a day and go home. But neither of us are quitters and we both wanted to complete the walk not just for the charity we were completing this for but for ourselves. The muscles ached, my feet looked ruined, my mind was begging me to stop and in the dead of the night I was lost in my own thoughts about life, relationships and my children. But I drove on, found a new gear and despite my sister really struggling with her knee, pushed on and cajoled the team to keep the spirits up.
As the sun slowly rose to highlight the beauty of my surroundings and we climbed our final hill (yes there are hills in Norfolk) we both realised we were going to make it. The tiredness really washed over me and I must admit the final mile was the hardest thing I had ever had to complete with my legs feeling that they were wading through treacle and I couldn’t have been any happier to see the famous Cromer Pier in my eyeline. We both crossed the line with our team-mates all together and realised we had achieved what at times seemed quite mad. I had needed to really push myself both mentally and physically to achieve this task, but I’d done it!
On to the next challenge!!!