STRIVING with Elijah Oxenham

Now that we’re well into July and the 1st of September is just around the corner, the enormity of the Virgin Strive Challenge is starting to set in. The final blow to my training procrastination was when fellow Core Team member, Cat, sent through a screenshot of our Strava totals for the month of June: I had only cycled 223km in the month… the equivalent of 1.5 days on Strive, and I called myself a Striver?! The realization of my lack of training was followed by a rapid increase in my heart rate and a string of expletives. Fortunately, this seems to have been enough to kick start a much more worthy training plan for this adventure, (thanks Cat).

With everything that has happened since joining the Strive Challenge, my training has taken a backseat to the other challenges: moving to London from Australia; finding a place to live; getting a job and all the fun stuff that comes with a last minute move to the other side of the world. Now that I’ve thankfully taken care of those challenges, I’ve recently been able to focus on how to get my body from the Matterhorn in Switzerland to the top of Mt. Etna in Sicily.Elijah 5

Just the cycling leg of STRIVE 2016 alone would warrant an excessive training schedule, however, we also have a 70km hike, 3.8km swim and a half marathon up a volcano to train for; finding the balance between training for each section has required some creativity. Mostly it just means trying to stay out of the pub…

Initially my concerns were with the 3.8km ocean swim between Italy and Sicily and I spent the majority of my training time in swimming pools and lakes. However, with our awesome swim coach/core team mom, Lara, and an epic kit courtesy of Speedo, it didn’t take long to build up to swimming the 3.8km in the lake – I can tick that one off!Elijah BlogIt wasn’t a surprise that the majority of my fears with undertaking the Strive Challenge were all related to the extreme physical demands that we’re going to be putting our bodies through, and ensuring that I will be fit enough to make it through the 30 days. However, now that we’re getting so close to departure day I’m coming to realize that I must train psychologically, as well as physically.

How do you train your mind for 30 days and thousands of kilometers of human-powered travel? The first thing I believe that’s an integral part of this training is preparing my brain and visualizing the challenge. I try to wake up and imagine instantly jump on my bike; then I try to end the day with a ride as well. Regardless of how many kilometers I do during the day, my brain is beginning to prepare my body for long days in the saddle. To fit this in around a full time job I have been waking up and cycling to work and then cycling for a couple of hours after work. It may mean getting home at 10pm, but I’m starting to trick my brain into thinking I’ve been on the bike all day (I hope!).

The biggest challenge I’ve had so far is finding the time to consistently train amongst a busy schedule and that’s coming from a single, 22-year-old with no kids to look after! It’s amazing to see the commitment to STRIVE coming from those on the Core Team with kids, families and businesses to run – they’re the ones who inspire me to make the most of any time I have before/after work to train.STRIVE Group ShootThe most profound thing I’ve learnt in the last few months of training is how amazing the human body is at adapting to intense exercise and sadly, how few people leave their comfort zone and learn how capable their bodies are. If there’s one thing that Strive teaches, it’s that exercise and adventure isn’t reserved for those born with superhuman physical abilities. It’s for anyone who is willing to put the time and energy into seeing how far they can really go. Hopefully we can spread the contagious spirit of physical adventure and Strive with some of you in the future!

If you’re thinking ‘hmm.. I would rather just watch you guys push through the 30 days’ I don’t blame you at all; in fact, I would say that’s a rather intelligent decision. In that case, please help me hit my ambitious fundraising target of £20,000 (Here’s the link, you know you want to!) to raise money for the awesome charity, Big Change. Cheers!!