'10 great, life-affirming reasons to commit to a solo challenge.'
‘Dear Sean. We’ve recently had a crew member drop out for our four-man ocean row challenge later on this year. We thought this may interest you. We would love for you to be part of our team?’ Regards, Anonymous.
At least twice a year I get this type of email, it’s not all rowing of course, if anyone has done any research they’d have found out I get terribly seasick and as such would be a lousy rowing partner. Sometimes it’s climbing mountains, sometimes it’s cycling countries. No matter, the point is there are an awful lot of people doing team events and this is great, for them, and I have no quarrel with that, but for some reason I have never been into buddying up for challenges. I much prefer going solo. Of course this has its drawbacks but for the most part I think everyone at some point in their life should embark on a solo adventure. This is why!
A logistical wizard
When deciding and planning your solo challenge, for the most part, you will be doing everything yourself, everything. Yes, you may have some friends and family helping out with the odd thing but at the end of the day it’s all down do you and you alone. You can’t palm off some of the rubbish jobs to another team member because you have Ukulele practice that evening. In turn you become a genius at time management and logistics.
Hard as nails
Often, in taking on a solo challenge you will need a quite uncomfortable shift in your own fitness. Hours in the gym, out on the road, and realising burpees are the worst invention known to mankind. And all of this hard work for the most part will be done alone. No team members WhatsApp group or early morning texts keeping you on schedule. The solo training is hard, but it makes you hard too.
This is an obvious one and doesn’t need much explaining but nevertheless its worth writing about. When you’re on your own, cold, wet, miserable, hungry and tired, your mind goes to places you never knew existed and no one, no one, will be around to send you a lifeline. It’s up to you. This is a very important process, and on your return, and often only years later, will you realise how much you grew up.
MacGyver has naught on you
If you asked me how to fix a water filtration system today I’d probably just shake my head, say I can’t do it, give up and start thinking about that single malt I haven’t opened at the back of the whisky cabinet. Give me the same problem when I am alone in the middle of the Pacific, and you can be sure I’ll work it out, fast. Solo challenges make you resourceful. They teach you how to fix problems, how to work out solutions, make decision and get things done.
You get good at singing
Trust me, with no one around, you will let your lungs go wild and it will give you as much energy as the best carb loading.
Alone, not lonely.
It’s very rare nowadays that we get to be alone, even at home by ourselves were glued to Instagram or Facebook which means we’re still connected to the world in some way. The Magic has gone a little. Going off on a solo adventure forces you to relax, become comfortable with your own thoughts, let them meander, fade, pounce and stir havoc. It’s important for humans to do this once and a while. I truly believe it resets your clock, buys you brain-space you can use later in life. If anything, at least you’ll panic less when your phone runs out of battery in the future.
No get out of jail card
When going solo there is no rest, there is no off button. You can’t ask a team mate to keep watch while you have a nap, or fix your puncture because you’ve hurt your wrist. To turn off is often to fail.
Go with the wind
One of the best reasons to go solo is the ability to change your plan, at a whim, and this from my experience is where the real adventure is. Yes, some adventures, record in particular, have no room for spontaneity however many adventures do allow for it. If it’s just you on your won, you have no one to consult, no one else to compromise with, you can take this change in wind direction and just go with it.
The door is always open
It’s well documented that a couple or group of people sitting in pub or on a hill side will almost always be left to their own devices. However, someone sitting alone in the same situation will more often than not get someone come up and chat to them. This will almost always lead to something, whether it be some local knowledge, a bed for the night or an opportunity to ‘go with the wind’ as mentioned in the previous paragraph.
Take the glory
Finally. It’d be naive to think that people don’t go on big epic challenges for a little bit of glory, (sometime a lot) and there is nothing wrong with that at all. Whether it be from colleagues, mates down the pub, or that boy or girl you’ve been trying to impress. Whatever your reasons, when you achieve your epic goal, return home wise, knowledgeable, in the peak of your physical ability and a lifetime’s worth of stories, you can take all the credit . . . just don’t let it get to your head.