FRAN: Hello, adventurers, it’s Fran Turauskis here and thank you all for joining me again today. I have, um, two quick confessions for you to start off the episode. First off, I have already recorded this once… and I forgot to turn my microphone on. So this is the second time of recording. I'm sorry if it's not as good as the first one but you'll never know.
Secondly, this was meant to be the Race to the Stones episode, but that one is taking quite a long time to edit and part of the reason is that I have realized there's about 40 hours worth of audio, which I've been going through. So that's from the two full days of the Race. I thought it would be a great idea to record the whole thing and the many, many hours of training. But I want to make sure that I get a really good episode out for you. And I think it is gonna be a good one, hopefully worth the wait. Today I have a bonus episode for you that was gonna come out in September. But it's here for you today instead.
So as you all know, I am doing 30 challenges, 30 adventures this year. I just finished my seventh challenge this afternoon, that was the wild swimming challenge and it was just in the sea! But it was great. It was perfect for this ‘hottest bank holiday weekend on record’. Absolutely wonderful. Also kind of why this episode’s coming out a little bit late today. So now that I am seven challenges in, I thought that I would give you the seven lessons I have learned so far.
Lesson Number One that I have learned: you do not have to be good at something to enjoy it and indeed I would encourage you to do things that you know you’re going to be bad at. I haven’t been amazing at the challenges so far, as we heard in the ice climbing –
[Sound clip: an ice axe hits wall, you hear an instructor in the background say ‘good, good foot’ then Fran falls, yelps and there is a beep to censor a swear]
FRAN (cont): where I fell off a lot. The mountain biking I also fell off –
[Sound clip: the grumble of tyres on gravel, a skid then Fran says “Kyle you jinxed it!” You can just hear Kyle in the background saying “Oh no!”]
FRAN (cont’): And the archery I did not get very many shots in. But I did get one bulls-eye, which I was very happy with. Even the running. I wasn't very good at at the start, and I had some days that were just awful. But obviously, there are very few things that you're gonna be good at at the start. So if you enjoy something, keep doing it.
Lesson Number Two. Along similar lines, you do not have to have the best equipment to make a start at something. So when I started training for Race to the Stones, I was using a pair of six-year-old shoes. They were not very expensive when I first bought them, they barely had any shock absorbency, and the traction had completely gone on them. I was running in these for about half of my training, so about eight weeks worth of training, in these really bad shoes. And when I retired them in Block Three, they were held together with athletic tape and, I think, quite a lot of mud was holding them together as well to be honest with you. In fact, I would go so far as to say that running in those really bad trainers, they actually made me a better runner. So having bad equipment forces you to be better, I had to really think about my foot placement because my shoes had no grip on the bottom. I had to focus on how much strain I was putting on my joints. And because I didn't care about the shoes that much, I didn't really care about running in mud and that kind of thing. It was not worth keeping those shoes clean, so I didn't have the best equipment to start with and I still managed to go out and do the training for eight weeks.
Having said that, Number Three: better equipment makes it so much easier. And when it's a bit easier, it becomes a bit more fun as well. So this is the first time that I have ever trained for any running-- first time ever I’ve trained for anything, probably-- and on my 30th birthday, my boyfriend got me my first ever pair of proper running shoes. You can hear from this little clip. They really made a difference:
[Sound clip, running noises on gravel. You hear Fran say ‘Ooo these shoes are fun!’]
FRAN (in studio): So I would definitely say that whilst you do not need the best equipment to start, if you're serious about doing something, it is definitely worth investing. Having said that, the very highest price bracket does not mean that it will be right for you. I would also say that you can look on places like eBay or in groups like the YesTribe, borrow something if you're not certain about it to begin with. So, for the Race to the Stones, I borrowed my race vest from another SayYesMore Ambassador called Sally Orange. Sally's done plenty of marathons, and she lent me a vest that would have cost about £120 if I'd have bought it. But because I wasn't certain if I'd be carrying on doing trail running, I did not want to spend that much, I didn't have the money to spend that much. So borrowing it was the perfect way to test out if it was something that I wanted to continue. I do now want to continue. I still don't have the money, but I know that will be worth spending that money when I do have it, which really makes a difference. I'd absolutely recommend trolling eBay, all things like Vinted or charity shops, even, depending on where you live. Once you know what you're looking for, you can find some great bargains out there. I've just bought a new pair of hiking boots. I'm quite excited about them, and it cost me £30 for some boots that would have cost £180 brand new. I will keep you updated on those ones to let you know if they-- if they work out.
Number four. In a similar vein, I realized that you do have to have a fair amount of privilege to be able to adventure in the traditional sense. So equipment costs money, training takes time and obviously energy, and getting to places takes time and money and energy. So you need a certain base level of privilege to be able to do this kind of stuff. But having said that, if you really want to do something, there are people and there are resources out there to make adventures more accessible and to help you to do it. I have received so much help and so much generosity so far for doing the challenges. And, I would just like to shoutout my thank you's, and also be completely transparent about how much money I'm spending on this and how little money I'm spending in some cases as well.
So Vertical Chill and Archery Fit. They both gave me completely free sessions in that first week, so that saved me about £100 right away. Whistle Punks gave me half price. Young Epilepsy subbed me half of the race entry for Race to the Stones so it only cost me about £70 rather than 140. Sally Orange, obviously, loaned me a vest, £120 saved right there. I had a donation from a member of the Tough Girl Tribe. So in National Epilepsy Awareness Week, I was on the Tough Girl podcast with Sarah Williams, and this allowed me to share my story, and I mentioned the fact that I didn't have any good running shoes at the time. Somebody gave me £80 to buy some new running shoes. Because I didn't need to get the shoes after my birthday, I went out and got some shorts instead, I got some energy gels, some salt tablets and some running socks. All of this was so useful and it just made things easier. Similarly, my parents, my boyfriend and my sister, they were my support crew through the training, but especially on the Race to the Stones days, they were driving back and forth across Berkshire and Wiltshire, bringing me treats, in some cases charging up my phone and my dictaphone and they were obviously there for moral support as well. And, the big one, Outdoor Mindset, they paid for my plane ticket to go over to Colorado, and that was about £700 worth of plane ticket. I stayed with some members of Outdoor Mindset whilst I was out there, they organized my mountain biking loan. They organized the hiking. They did so much for me for that weekend and just allowed me to experience some things that I was really worried I wouldn't actually be able to afford. So it is fantastic. Thank you so much. And it goes to show what might happen when you ask people for help as well. They were just so good at helping me.
Lesson Number Five. I am going to talk about this much more in the Race to the Stone's podcast, but especially with the Race to the Stones, I realized that I am not doing these things in spite of my epilepsy. I'm always doing it with my epilepsy. Accepting my diagnosis and working with the idea that seizures were my body's way of telling me if I was doing too much, telling me if there was too much stress on my body. That helps me to judge how much I should do. So, I listened to things like, if I'm thirsty or hungry and listen to the fact that I'm tired, I limit the stresses on my body. And I limit the risks by doing things like taking my medication on time, and buying the energy drinks and the salt tablets to make sure that I am not getting dehydrated. All of this stuff is really important when you're doing anything like this. If you have epilepsy, it just becomes that bit more important. It's just an excuse to look after myself, to be honest with you.
So. Lesson Number Six. Despite all of that, despite the risk management, I realized that I am still occasionally nervous about having a seizure. So my last seizure was more than four years ago now, it's quite a long time. And I actually spoke with my neurologist at the start of this year about potentially coming off of my medication. But we decided that because I'm doing so much this year, I'm trying so many new things, I wanted that safety net of medication for this next year. I did not know how my body was going to react to things like high altitude or doing trail runs of 100 kilometers. I just wanted to limit any risk by making sure I still had that medication helping to control the seizures a bit. Because I have been slightly nervous, I have not been doing what might be considered my ‘best’ in inverted commas. I have not pushed myself as fast as I could go. I know that I could have done Race to the Stones much quicker if I'd have wanted to. But I also wanted to enjoy the race, and the main thing is, I wanted to finish, and I wanted to finish safely. So, for this time, at least, I did not push myself as much as I could have done. It does mean that there is something left for me to do the next time I do an ultrarun.
Lastly, Lesson Number Seven, and this is a big one. Some providers are still nervous about epilepsy as well. So, I can't get too annoyed with them about this. I just said, myself, that I get a bit nervous. The problem comes when those nerves actually lead to discrimination. I have had one point so far of discrimination. It was what's known as ‘perceived discrimination’, which is when assumptions are made about a person's abilities or limits based purely on their diagnosis. So rather than looking at the individual’s merits and what that individual can do, it's assumed that they can't do things or shouldn't do things because of a diagnosis like epilepsy. This kind of thing is obviously why I'm doing Seize Your Adventure and why I'm doing this challenge in particular. I just want to say that if you are a sports provider on want to know a bit more about avoiding perceived discrimination or discrimination in general, you can listen to Episode 10 of the podcast, Adventurers Talk Epilepsy. That episode is a really good resource to start with, and of course, I really want you all to get in touch directly, if you have any questions for me. I will point you in the right direction if I can't answer the questions, but hopefully I'll be able to answer quite a lot of them for you.
So those are the Seven Lessons that I have learned so far. Quite a lot of those lessons have been about my own personal experience of doing this with epilepsy. One of the things I'm a bit worried about is that I'm not getting enough from other people with epilepsy on how they work with their condition. My diagnosis is my diagnosis. There are 60 million people out there with epilepsy, and every single one of them has a different form of epilepsy. Every single one of them deserves to go out there and find adventure. I am going to try and get 87 people affected by epilepsy-- so that's both people with epilepsy themselves on their friends and family-- I'm trying to get 87 people involved in this challenge. The reason it's 87 is because every single day in the UK, 87 people are told they have epilepsy. And, I want those 87 people to see the kinds of things that I'm doing and see the kinds of things that other people with epilepsy can do with the condition, and I hope that that helps them.
So that's it. My quickfire bonus episode for you. Seven lessons, seven challenges so far. Hopefully, I'll get another 23 lessons from the next challenges. I'll keep you updated on those ones.
If you have epilepsy and you'd like to join me on a challenge, get in touch or the details are obviously in the podcast notes.
Thank you very much for listening and until next time, safe adventures, everyone.