It is with a tremendous sense of awe and excitement that I present you with our first ever episode of the Adventure Podcast.
As our first guest, I welcome Jason McKinley, an accomplished endurance athlete and adventurer who rowed the Atlantic in 2003. He has run no fewer than 55 marathons, including a marathon on Everest and the gruelling Marathon of the Sands in the Sahara desert.
Originally hailing from Liverpool, Jason now lives in Salcombe, Devon with his wife Sarah and their children Oliver, 3, and baby Emilia Rose.
Jason and his rowing partner, Josh Tarr, also from Salcombe, have recently knocked 11 days off the existing world record for rowing around Great Britain when they came home after 41 days 4 hours and 38 minutes at sea.
1:25 – on being a “working class adventurer”, challenging himself physically and mentally
2:50 – on motivation in adventuring and racing
5:50 – beginnings: how Jason started out in adventuring
7:30 – choosing a rowing partner for crossing an ocean
9:30 – the Great Britain Row (Note: the “American lady” that Jason refers to, who has rowed the Atlantic AND around Britain, is the amazing Angela Madsen.
16:50 – what’s next for Jason, wanting to get back to adventuring the old-fashioned way, the mixed blessing of satellite phones (Jason mentions the polar explorer Erling Kagge, who removed the batteries from his mandatory safety radio so as to be uncontactable)
19:30 – the adventuring attitude, the need to not miss the things that you just can’t have. I refer to James “Tiny” Little, who rowed the Atlantic in 2005.
21:40 – when is a broken watermaker not a broken watermaker?
22:50 – I do Jason’s bragging for him
23:40 – Jason’s work with his personal training clients, running with them and motivating/inspiring them (this is my personal favourite part of this conversation!
29:00 – facing failure, Jason introduces us to his WAY system – Who Are You? and being true to that
30:50 – Jason talks about his other role, as a family man, and his hopes for his children
32:00 – more about the WAY system – how to use it to approach life (and phone calls!) with confidence, how to reduce bad habits
35:55 – how to donate to the good causes that Jason supported during his GB Row. See also their crew website.
The Retrospective Perspective
During our podcast, Jason mentioned that helping his fitness clients to achieve their goals has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of his life to date.
I loved the story that he told about doing an Ironman triathlon with a client of his, a 61-year-old woman. It was her third attempt. During the second lap of the run, when it was already dark, she started to struggle. She said she didn’t think she could do it, and in fact wasn’t even sure the Ironman was really the event for her.
Jason kept his calm. He knew that taking the Navy Seal PT Fitness Instructor approach was not going to be the most effective.
Sure, he said. No worries. You can run another 20K or we can stop here. Why don’t we go into that bar over there? Probably the Ryder Cup is on live.
But just before we do that, imagine yourself in 10 years time, and how you will feel then if you make that decision now. Ask yourself if you will feel fulfilled. You’ll be the only person who knows the answer – everyone around you will say well done for having got this far. Only you will ever know if you did the right thing in stopping.
Needless to say, the story has a happy ending. After walking a bit, she started jogging, then running, and went on to win her age group by a couple of hours. She is now number 1 in Europe in her age group, and later this year will be doing a half-ironman with her 50-year-old younger brother, who has been inspired by her example.
This story really resonated with me because I went through similar doubts on the Atlantic. Amongst the many techniques I devised/improvised/scrabbled around desperately for in order to keep myself going, one was what I called the “Retrospective Perspective”. I kept reminding myself that having got this far, spent this much time and money, told so many people what I was going to do, I’d feel so disappointed in myself if I quit.
I found it really helped if I imagined I was writing the book about my adventure. Right now this experience might feel like the worst thing that had ever happened to me, but eventually it would make a fantastic story. In fact, the worse it was, the more dramatic the story would be! This helped me to detach myself from my immediate suffering, and to see it in the overall context of my life.
If you’re facing a big and challenging project in your life right now, why not try out this technique? When it all seems overwhelming, offer yourself a get-out clause. Think about how it would feel if you quit. Then think about how you would feel about that choice in 10 years’ time. Would you be happy with it, or would you regret giving up?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. You’re perfectly entitled to quit if you’re happy this will still seem like a good decision 10 years from now. Or you might find that this really tough time is actually just a relatively short-lived slump in motivation, and eventually you’ll be proud that you persevered.
I’ll leave you with this quote from The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, which relates to this:
“Before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved towards that dream. That’s the point at which most people give up. It’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one ‘dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon’. Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being sorely tested.”