It’s been a doozy of a week weather-wise. The Beast from the East, Storm Emma, Snowmageddon, people panic buying bread and milk then realising all they have to consume is bread and milk, schools closed, roads blocked, emergency services at capacity. After my recent trip to Arctic Norway, with temperatures as low as -32 and deep, deep snow, I might raise an eyebrow or two at the UK’s stunning lack of preparedness, but I’m used to it now.
I love the snow, but you don’t get all of the pure and beautiful delights from it in London. I’d have done anything to be out in the countryside when the Beast came; white rolling hills are much more enticing than the sludge that quickly forms in city streets. I’m being harsh; London was rather pretty, but I’d have taken uninterrupted views of endless fields over Croydon High Street.
Public transport was a mess. One day it took me over three hours to get to work, and the next day I couldn’t get in at all so had to work from home. By the end of the week, my frustration with buses and trains gave me the idea for a little adventure.
Why not walk to work? Why stress myself out with packed buses and cancelled trains when I love walking more than anything?
I’d walked home before, when I was training for the Lake District and the Arctic, but never braved the early morning stroll. The walk is 9.2 miles, takes around 3 hours and to be honest, isn’t the prettiest route. In fact it’s a dirty, smelly, loud route for the most part, but there are some touches of magic along the way.
To be honest, I think the public transport was getting back on track by the time Friday morning came, with much of the snow melted, but by this point, I was really excited about my adventure.
One of my favourite outdoor bloggers, Splodz Blogz, champions the #onehouroutside campaign. The idea is that we all have 24 hours in our day, and we should all be able to find at least one of these hours to be outdoors. It sounds so simple, right? When I got wind of this, I shocked myself with how little time I spend outdoors during the week. I might spend 10 minutes outside on my lunchbreak and a few minutes going from the gym to the train after work, but as someone who loves the outdoors, I hadn’t realised how little of it I get from Monday-Friday. Generally, I more than make up for it at the weekend, but that’s not the point. The point is, every single day of my life, I should be able to get at least an hour of fresh air. I’m working on it.
With that in mind, I was going to get much more than my one hour outdoors in. I left my flat just after 5.30am. I won’t pretend I find it easy getting up at that time, but I do enjoy it. The world seems a little bit different at 5.30am. It’s quieter, more peaceful, and it feels like there is solidarity amongst the people who are out at that time – people heading off to their early morning shift at work, people getting their run in before the day starts, people still on it from the night before.
As I mentioned the walk is along a busy road the entire way. Even that early, there is traffic on the road, but I stuck an adventurous podcast in my ears (I adore Tough Girl Challenges) and soaked up the little moments of tranquillity. Streatham Common in particular was beautiful in the snow, before the sun came up but when the light was changing.
It was an overcast day, and I wasn’t blessed with a striking sunrise or anything. As you can see from what I’m saying, the components I was presented with were rather unremarkable.
The true joy, and it was an enormous joy, came from just doing it. From being up that early, from wrapping up in my cosiest hat and buff, getting my Armadillo Merino base layers on for the first time since my Arctic adventure, from plodding through the melting snow as the world woke up. Joy didn’t come from the streets of Thornton Heath or Streatham or Brixton or Elephant and Castle, those were just stepping stones to a real internal excitement at doing something so different to the monotony I have grown used to. After three hours of walking, I got to work at 8.30am, feeling like I had already accomplished something huge. The joy stayed with me all day, I had a huge sense of achievement, and I approached my work with an increased energy. Unfortunately I struggled to shut up about it all day as I felt so good, but I’m sure my colleagues will forgive me.
The weather was the push I needed to do this walk, but it’s nice to know the option is always there if I feel like I need to shake up my rhythm.
There are so many ways you can live a bit differently in the morning on a normal work day. Here are a few suggestions:
- Walk, run, or cycle to work if you normally take the train or drive.
- Try a totally different method of human powered transport like scooter or rollerblades.
- Camp out somewhere on a weeknight, wake up, watch the sun rise, have a coffee, then head into the office.
- Go for an early morning wild swim before you get going.
- Prepare an epic slap up breakfast the night before, then get up early and go have a sunrise picnic in the park before your day begins
For me, a tiny little adventure in the morning made all the difference to my day. I was more positive and more productive at work, and I still have a little glow about me.
Do you have any other ideas for breaking your routine, and getting out of your everyday habits? I’d love to hear them!