After a very long break from training proper, today was the start of a new bid to get fitter and to improve my nutritional intake, ready for the world first solo row around Britain, and my first sea training in the next few weeks. Sometimes finding the balance is hard, working nights to pay rent, training in the early morning, and using the middle of the day to focus on PhD research on the bones of Viking rowers, teaching Oceans Project students online, and looking after the emails and admin side of running a charity. When something gets dropped, it is usually the fitness training.
Today was the first day of a fresh start, working with Tom and Pete at The Vault gym in Kendal to get me row ready......let's just say the road ahead is going to be a long one, but each step forward is an investment in my strength and determination at sea. Today's vlog is dedicated to anyone striving to be fitter than they are today, but who struggles with the work/life balance. Let us know how your training is going, in the comments section below.
Have you ever wondered how expeditions get funded? When I first started preparing to row an ocean to raise funds for Oceans Project, I thought it was all about finding some magical corporate sponsor who would hand over a large sum of money in exchange for their logo on the boat, and limitless publicity as I bagged Guinness World Records, after all, more people have been to the moon or into space than have rowed an ocean! Why did I think that? Because that was my experience in seeing round the world yacht racers and ocean rowing boats in the press, at boat shows, and on telly. But the reality, unless you have connections with lots of CEOs is a much more tricky thing. The number of times people have suggested that I should contact Richard Branson....like it was something that had never occurred to me, that somehow he would just stump up the cash for my expedition, along with everyone else's expedition! Corporate sponsorship is hard work. Not just in finding a corporate sponsor, but in finding one that is the right fit for your expedition. At the start, we were incredibly fortunate to be approached by two big companies whilst in Georgia, but we had to refuse both because the company went against our ethos of healthy living and promoting the benefits of sport. Not only that, but the decision making process becomes much harder when you have sponsorship as you have to run every decision past them as well as working with their PR team to ensure a consistent message that promotes their business first and foremost.
In hindsight, my advice to any wannabe explorer would be to focus your time and energy on fundraising activities, rather than going after that elusive corporate sponsor. If you do happen to bag yourself a corporate sponsor along the way, then ace, but if you are serious about making it to the start line, give yourself loads of time (think months rather than weeks), and make a fundraising plan. I could have saved years in preparation had I done this from the off! Likewise don't think that just because your getting lots of media coverage that it will bring in funds, because it doesn't work like that, in fact it can even have the opposite effect as people think that you have already made it and don't need their funds.
Selling T-shirts isn't going to bring you a fortune either (unless your really good at it), but it can be a great way to bring in smaller funds in a way that allows your community to get involved, and that they too get something in return. And with the last funds to find for next week's Oceans Project expedition, that is exactly what I decided to do.
I chose a crowdfunding platform called Fabrily, which allows you to sell T-shirts or hoodies to raise funds for your expedition. My friend Domi created the design, and it took a short time to upload it to the Fabrily site. You can follow the story in my Youtube video below. Let me know how you get on with your own fundraising campaign, and what has or hasn't worked for you, in the comments section below.
After a long day in the office catching up on Oceans Project admin work I was about to head to bed, when I noticed something small and black on the kitchen floor. At first I thought it was a leaf or bit of mud that had blown in from the back yard, then I thought it was a moth. It was only when I picked it up that I realised it was a tiny black bat. It was all scrunched up and lying on it's bat, so my first reaction was sadness that it was dead. But as I looked closer, I could just make out the fall and rise of the fluff on it's belly, and spotted a tiny pinhole of an eye peering back at me. It was still alive, but in freeze mode. Surely it was dying? Such a shame and I was so excited to have my very first proper bat encounter. I had seen a bat once before, but it was in a frozen cellar in Latvia and was hibernating.
If you would like to find out more about bats, you can visit the Bat Conservation Trust website here. Have you had a bat encounter? Let us know in the comments section below.