Few people can say that their goal for 2020 was to attempt a world record. Andrew Jones interviews business traveller and coach Marcia Roberts. 2020 saw Marcia turn her plan to tackle a cancelled cycling challenge in the Netherlands into a world record attempt to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats to Land’s End.
“I knew I couldn’t break a world record but I could set one.”Marcia Roberts
What made you decide to attempt a world record?
“As with everybody my 2020 plans were thrown into disorder, I started 2020 attempting Paris Breast Paris a famous cycling event, which begins in Paris travels across France and back to Paris. But the challenge proved too much for me and I didn’t complete the event in the allotted time span. For my next event, I had hired a coach to help me with my training programme and both my mindset and training style. This event in the Netherlands was cancelled like so many others and I was determined to complete a challenge in 2020 so I decided maybe this is the year to create a challenge like no other and set a world record”.
What made you want to set a world record?
“First off, setting a world record is different from breaking a world record. You need to contact the Guinness World Records and propose your challenge and give evidence as to why it could be considered a world record. I decided that the challenge would have to be in the UK due to lockdown restrictions. The idea came about to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats to Land’s End. The challenge would mean I would have to complete about 150 miles per day within the time frame that the Guinness World Records organisation set as a benchmark compared to other similar challenges”.
What was the motivation behind the challenge?
“Lockdown 1, 2 and 3 have been challenging for so many people and I have friends with historic mental health issues and it was obvious COVID-19 would exacerbate these challenges”.
Were there any unexpected benefits of doing the challenge in 2020?
“The roads were clearer, and it gave me time to get fresh air, rather than just being stuck inside. I often travel for business, and missed the workplace banter, being out in the world improves your mental health and kept me physically fit”.
Why did you decide to raise funds for the Mental Health Charity, Mind?
“I saw how colleagues and friends who owned businesses were struggling, from loneliness, to challenges in business finances, I thought that the challenge would be a great way for me to keep fit, stay focused and raise awareness for mental health. The cancellation of the London Marathon put it into perspective how much charities needed support and I knew the NHS was dealing with the physical bodies, but I wondered who was dealing with their minds”.
Were there any standout moments during the challenge?
“During the challenge it was bizarre, I felt like Davina McCall on one of her charity challenges as I was getting calls from local news outlets, and seeing photographers in laybys snapping me as I went by! I guess positive news in a challenging time is hard to come by”.
What did you learn from completing this challenge?
“Mental toughness – usually comes with a goal. My goal in this was to get a world record, I’ve been asked to put together various coaching courses off the back of the event, and I’m happy to help people reach their potential”.
What does your course cover?
- Goals – What their life dreams are, creating a mind map, using various visuals that work for the individual; there’s a section on family, career and travel. To date I have ridden across Vietnam, France and Spain. Check out this cycling tour by Meon Valley Travel across Vietnam. We look at those goals and whether they align with their values, it also looks at how you balance the two. On the course, you learn how to achieve the balance and set goals for the future.
- Adaptability to obstacles – Look for the opportunity – for my world record attempt it was empty roads, and others not doing the challenge. One of the obstacles I faced was not being able to cover the distance required in the training programme due to lockdown restrictions so by buying a turbo trainer two days before lockdown I could continue doing 600km rides even if it was in my living room.
- Mental health – Confidence, negative self-talk, are you too old, too short, wrong sex, feelings of not being enough. My focus is to deliberately talk openly about how you re-frame what you say to yourself. One of the examples from my course is about swimming, an issue from childhood, a swimming incident which created immense fear. In this session, I look at how I overcame the challenge to be able to swim front crawl. The session looks at how I broke the immense fear of putting my head underwater to being able to grab a swimming nose plug and goggles and even enjoy swimming without the fear I once had. Once I’d broken the fear and changed the script I was able to overcome the challenge. The session also talks about changing the ‘I can’t’ to ‘I will’ and how to go through the steps of teaching your brain to see the evidence and change its reaction.”
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