This is the second post in my series, all about Inspiring Individuals. People who break away from the norms of the daily grind, to do something different and act as an inspiration for many others out there.
Within this post I am highlighting a friend I got to know through the interesting world of Triathlon. An ex teacher, who would never shy away from the word 'challenge' and someone who quiet clearly knows how to make a 'vision' a reality. An individual who I think is inspiring and someone who has ultimately followed her dreams and passion in life. To make a difference and bring about change, to not only her life, her families, but more importantly the people she meets.
Would you like to introduce yourself to my readers?
I’m Rachel Sheldrake, a trail running coach. I grew up in rural Devon, enjoying an idyllic childhood in the countryside, and on completing my time school, headed to the Lake District to train as a teacher of Outdoor Education; my dream was to help others learn to love the outdoors as much as I did. Life never really works out how you plan it, though, and by my early twenties, I found myself living and teaching in the East End of London, loving the many challenges of life in a multicultural primary school. Yes, I still enjoyed a life of outdoor adventure at weekends and in my holidays, but my working life could not have been further removed from what I’d dreamt of doing. I loved it, though, for it fulfilled my need for challenge. Fast forward 25 years and, now living in the Midlands, I knew that something in my life had to change; I was burnt out from teaching but far from retirement. A keen runner by now, I decided to take the plunge and combine my hobby with the many people skills I’d gained professionally over the years. I set up my business and so, more than 30 years after I first dreamt of it, I’m finally making a living helping others to love the outdoors as much as I do.
Can you tell the readers 5 People, Places or Things that have helped inspire you:
1. Maps. From as young an age as I can remember, I’ve been looking at maps. Maps are the key to adventure, and I like nothing better than poring over one, deciding which path I want to take next.
2. Mr Jones and Mr Devon. The boys’ PE teachers by day, these two amazing men devoted much of their free time to taking all of us teenagers walking and camping on Dartmoor at weekends, training us for the annual Ten Tors competition. They taught me practical skills, such as navigation and campcraft, as well as the mental strategies of perseverance and overcoming adversity. Without them, I doubt I’d be where I am today.
3. Jo Pavey. I grew up in the same village as the 5-time Olympian and have followed her career from the start. Her sheer refusal to give up on her dreams in the face of endless injuries and obstacles has had a profound effect on me; she will always be my running hero.
4. The Lake District. Although I’d never been there until I went for my college interview, I always knew that it was the place I most wanted to be. I was in awe of the mountains the very first time I saw them and remain so to this day. There’s something so very special about the views, the air and the light that just isn’t found anywhere else in the world.
5. My clients. From people taking up running for the first time later in life, to those who are taking their first steps up a mountain, I’m constantly inspired by the efforts my clients make to improve themselves and broaden their horizons with adventure.
1. What does the word inspirational mean to you?
It’s about being just out of reach, beyond the comfort zone. It’s about the challenge and overcoming obstacles along the way, real or perceived. It’s about motivation, determination and perseverance. It’s about enthusiasm and zest for life.
2. Do you have any words, quotes or sayings that help motivate you?
“It’s better to live one day as a tiger than a thousand years as a sheep”. It’s an old Tibetan proverb and I fell in love with it when reading the late mountaineer Julie Tullis’ book about her ascent of K2. It reaffirms how I’ve always felt about life – that doing your own thing, rather than following the crowd, is the way to go for a fulfilling and happy life.
3. What inspirational stories can you tell us?
One of my regular trail running clients has inspired me no end. After a couple of years of running short distances on the road because she lacked the confidence to try anything else, she came along to a trail run and quite liked it. A few months later, with her confidence growing, she signed up for a trail running weekend, where she ran 10 miles for the first time ever and climbed to the top of her first ever hill. I’ll never forget her face at the moment she reached the top and saw the view; I wish I could have captured it. Six months later, with her confidence now sky-high, I was shown a photo that made everything I do worthwhile. In the picture were her husband, children and dog at the summit of that same hill. She’d found her way back to the start and used the map I’d given her to navigate them all to the top so that they could share the experience. She didn’t want her children to grow up having never been to the top of a hill. That’s inspiration to me.
4. What inspiring moments are you most proud of?
10 years ago, just before midnight and half way up a Norwegian mountain, I crossed the finish line of Norseman, the hardest race I have done in my life. Jumping off a car ferry into a fjord, swimming nearly two and a half miles against the tide, cycling 112 miles over 3 mountain passes and then running a marathon that was more than half uphill tested my inner strength to the absolute limit; I had to dig very, very deep indeed to reach that finish line. It nearly broke me but I did it and was one of very few women to have done so at the time. I’m still as proud of that now as I was on the day.
5. How do find and maintain your motivation?
I need to have a big goal to work towards, a really challenging one. It has to be something I want to experience or do, rather than a material reward; I’m certainly not motivated by ‘bling’. That’s what keeps me going and gets me out of bed in the mornings.
6. Have you inspired others? How have you done this?
I guess I’ve inspired a lot of people in my time, from the many, many children I’ve taught to the many adults I’ve come into contact with through work and play. I think it comes from being passionate about what I do; I love the outdoors, I love running and I love helping others to enjoy them too and I think that comes through in everything I do. I talk about it, I write about it, and I take photos of it. It’s just what I do.
7. Do you have any exciting goals for 2018?
As it’s a special birthday year for me, I have a special goal planned; I’ll be running (well, running and walking!) the Lakes Traverse, a 60-mile race across the Lake District, with 12,000ft of ascent. The furthest I have run before is 32 miles, and that was pretty flat, so it’s going to be a challenge but my training is going well and I’m feeling strong. I’m looking forward to the electronic tracker being put on me and heading off for an adventure! Out there, on my own amongst the mountains, I’ll be as happy as can be.
Finally, to round up…
What great advice would you give to others? Never give up on your dreams. It’s great to have goals and ambitions in life but accept the fact that you might not be able to meet them just yet. Life takes many twists and turns along the way and you just never know when a dream that you thought had passed you by might just become reality again.
Many Thanks Rachel
..for your inspiring words and answering my thought provoking interview questions in a humble and meaningful way. Since knowing Rachel, I feel she has definitely broken away from the norms of everyday life, in order to pursue something she loves and fulfil her overall aspirations in life. Through hard work and above all else, commitment, she continues to progress forward, doing great things. Which ultimately make a difference to hers and others lives.
In my opinion, Rachel epitomises the word ‘change’ and I feel she has done this in a really humble and positive way. Without glorifying the situation and over-inflating her ego.
She is a positive and shinning example and the perfect role model, who continues to work hard and do something she enjoys, bringing many positive moments to her own life and to others around her.
Of course, in is safe to say that these journeys are not easy and putting words into actions is so often the most difficult part. Rachel has proven it can be done and she continues to do so with each week that passes.
Rachel is an ‘inspiring individual’ and someone who has brought about a change to her life, by not only developing her own health and well-being but also to others around her.
I’m sure we will all wish her well as she continues to push herself on to greater things in life.
Good Luck Rachel.
Follow and Support Rachel
Rachel is the owner of Mud and Miles which is a UK based Running and Coaching business. Mud and Miles offers all abilities the opportunity to enjoy and develop their running. The business focuses on run coaching. From one-to-one coaching, or to be part of a regular running group or book a one-off skills session, or whether you fancy exploring the trails locally or further afield. Rachel and Mud and Miles will certainly find something to benefit your running interest.
If you think you are inspiring or feel you have done something worth sharing?
If the answer is… YES, then please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will see what I can do to develop and share your story.