Arthur’s inspiration

I found myself at the top of Arthur’s Seat this past weekend, which means I’ve reached the summit two months in a row – after not having climbed the hill in about a year. My December climb was with my nieces and a friend from my university and this weekend’s trip to the top was with a friend who was visiting from out of town. Each climb was a different experience and combined they gave me a bit of inspiration for the year ahead.

When I climbed up in December, I found it to be quite an easy trek. One of the members of our climbing party was a bit slower and needed a lot of breaks, which meant that my legs and lungs had plenty of time to rest along the route. The slower pace also meant that I got to point out the different views as we made the climb. (A bright, clear day helped with the views!) The ease of the journey left me feeling strong and accomplished as if I was a world-class hill walker.

However, this weekend’s climb was a bit more challenging. This time, my climbing partner was in good shape, and he just climbed… and climbed… and climbed – despite having a cold! My poor legs and lungs were struggling a bit, but my ego wasn’t about to say so! (Although there were a couple of occasions where we stopped so that I could “enjoy the view”. Or at least, that was my excuse!) And whilst the journey wasn’t extremely difficult, it was certainly more of a challenge. And that left me feeling (physically) weak and a bit disappointed with myself. I had lost my “world-class hill walker” status in favour of the (more accurate) “average human” status.

The two experiences served as a great reminder that different people have different abilities and that if I benchmark my successes against the abilities of others, I will never fully realise my own abilities. This is, of course, a great reminder to myself for all areas of my life – including my PhD, which is my Top Priority for 2018!

The experiences were also a good reminder that whilst I am in fairly decent shape, I am not in the best shape that I could be in. And that I really should be in good enough shape to keep up this weekend’s adventure partner – something that I could have done if I actually made a bit more effort in my own physical fitness routine. (My friend, apparently, does strength and cardio training every day. This is something I should be doing, too – especially if I ever want to run another marathon!)

In addition to realising the differences in climbing with people of different fitness levels – and that my own fitness levels are lacking – this weekend’s climb made me realise that I have never climbed Arthur’s Seat on my own. It made me realise that I have never fully explored the hill as I would have done if I was making a solo journey. And I honestly don’t know how I’ve managed to miss making the climb on my own after all of these years; it is rather unlike me. Of course, Arthur’s Seat has a variety of routes to climb, which means several different experiences are waiting for me!

And so, I have decided that I need to climb Arthur’s Seat a bit more! Firstly, so that I can give the site a proper exploration (with loads of photos for Mum and Aunt Elizabeth) and secondly so that I can get into better shape. (And also as a break away from my desk, as fresh air will certainly help to refresh my mind for that bloody thesis writing!!)

And since I’ve already been to the summit two months in a row, it now makes sense that I challenge myself to climb it (at least) once each month*. Sometimes I will make the journey with a climbing partner, but most of the time I will be a solo climber.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: You’re thinking that I need to worry less about climbing a silly extinct volcano and more about finishing my PhD (which is due very, very soon!). And I agree with you! However, I also know that I find a lot of great inspiration when I’m walking and running. So I will aim to combine the two. That means that I will plan my next few climbs around my writing plans. And when I climb, I will take my notebook with me for jotting down inspiration as it strikes. (In fact, my notebook will be a fairly constant companion over the next 100 or so days!)

But for now, I must stop thinking about my inspirational weekend climb up Arthur’s Seat and get back to writing some inspirational words for my PhD thesis.

* If I am away from Edinburgh for a calendar month – either on holiday or post-PhD relocation – I will find a suitable alternative to climb. After all, when this bloody PhD finally gets finished, I might find myself having to relocate (against my desires!!) a bit further afield for one of those “job” things all the grown-ups always talk about!

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