In two weeks time I will be heading into the wilderness of Svalbard for 4 and a bit weeks of isolation, the likelihood of not seeing anyone for that time is high. I will have contact with my home team in the UK but outside of those few minutes a day there it will be me and my mind.
For me the mental side of the expedition is one of the things I am most scared of, and one which I have tried my hardest to prepare for. After speaking to people who have done isolated journeys, common themes appear. A reassurance that you are safe, knowing that family and friends care about you, it’s the “little” things a quote on the side of your boat or a touch of nostalgia.
When I’m out training my mind begins to go into overdrive. I begin asking myself questions, the answers come back in a heartbeat.
Are you ready for this?
Do you think you will succeed?
Will you succeed?
I do not know, but I will give it my all.
Are you scared?
Are you training hard enough to finish?
I don’t know, we shall soon find out.
These questions continue in a barrage for about 10 minutes. Doubts surface everytime I take on a challenge whether it’s been academic or sporting. I know they are normal for me and I have learnt to control them as best I can. As with any challenge small or large you have to have your head in the right place. Otherwise you are compromising your success before you even lace up your boots.
In the Arctic or any environment physical strength will only take you so far. There comes a point when your body begins to struggle with the ordeal of what you’re doing. In these moments true strength comes to the fore, your body begins to test the mind. Saying its tired, this is when I will have to push through my bodies weakness and rely on my mind strength to block out the noise, continuing on to hit my daily mileage. I have tried my best to make my body as strong and fit as possible for the challenge that lies ahead and when the my inner voice begins to knock and ask questions then we shall see if it was enough all along.