Endurance challenger shares tips for staying positive with little or no social contact


With the UK announcing an extended period of lockdown due to the coronavirus, Jenny Tough, solo adventure specialist and Shand Cycles ambassador, has unique insight into the challenges many millions will be facing up to in the coming weeks.

Jenny was the first person to run unsupported across the Bolivian Andes and spent 25 days running across Kyrgyzstan on her own. Here she shares her tips on how to keep fit and stay sane for enduring isolation:

Plan ahead
“On an endurance challenge, avoiding boredom and keeping concentration is crucial. I’ve always found it helps to have a plan. Decide which podcasts/audio books you’re going to get through, or what project you’re going to do that you’ve been holding off for ages. Hold yourself to account. This will help maintain your motivation.”

When it comes to food and drink, be creative
“I travel to a lot of places where I have to eat foods very different to what I am used to. When there’s not much left on the grocery store shelves, accept it and see it as a challenge to try new things. Buy what you can then when you get home use Google to find new recipe ideas.”

Share entertainment
“When I’m on an adventure, staying in touch and sharing experiences with my friends and family at home is so important. You might not be in the same room but that doesn’t mean you can’t watch a film or listen to a playlist at the same time, and discuss it as you’re doing so.”

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Make the most of fleeting social contact
“It’s so important to smile. On endurance challenges in remote mountain areas, I go days without seeing anyone, and those I do see don’t speak my language. When I did see other people, it really uplifted me to simply exchange smiles or a wave. So when you do go outside, make the effort to make eye contact and smile at the other people you pass. Just remember not to get too close!”

Sleep properly
“On a tough challenge, I have limited hours when I can sleep and it’s vital to make the most of that time. During lockdown, it’s easy to get off a normal routine and that can make you moody. Stick to your usual sleeping hours, even when you don’t need to, in order to stay rested and healthy.”

Keep fit
“Make absolutely sure you take the daily outing we’re permitted. Use the time to push yourself a little – the rush from a hard workout lasts a long time, and helps with stress and anxiety. If you’re the competitive type, try a challenge with friends – I’m personally doing 50 push-ups a day with friends around the country. We check in daily, and it helps feel connected.”

Practice mindfulness
“When things get tough, I’m a big fan of mindfulness and meditation. On those long days at home, and with odd things happening in the world, a bit of zen time can be helpful – even if you’ve never tried it.”

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