Newsletter November 2020

WINTER OUTDOOR MOTIVATION is what the Guardian wanted to interview me about for a feature they put together on getting out during the cold, dark months. It’s never easy and this year it’s more important to be getting ourselves out than ever.

The clocks change and we are all of a sudden chasing daylight. Suddenly, we all start to feel like hibernating.

It’s difficult having to self-motivate constantly at the moment. The winter ‘staples’ that I liked to use such as spin and exercise classes aren’t happening. My local swimming pool keeps opening and closing inline with lockdowns. I have to say, I haven’t got as far as winter wild swimming yet!

At the moment, working from home, I’m lucky enough to be able to grab some exercise in the daylight and I think this is important. I know that I’ll always feel better for moving my body, seeing some daylight outdoors and engaging with what’s happening beyond my head and computer screen.

I have a routine, try to banish procrastination (yes, we all do it) and tell myself that the weather always sounds like it’s worse from inside the house or the car than it actually is when you get out. There’s always something to see and celebrate and, as I always say, getting out of the door is the hardest part.

NEW COURSE ALERT: We are offering a new weekend course in 2021 – Women Beginning Mountain Biking. We’re really excited about this and it’s all about giving you the ability to enjoy mountain biking and it’s NOT about technical riding. We aren’t offering steep, terrifying drops or acrobatic manoeuvres. It’s about opening up the joy of getting out into stunning scenery on two wheels and away from the traffic. It’s a tutored, enjoyable, confidence-building weekend in a gorgeous location. We’ve got three-weekend dates for 2021 (May, July and September) and there are full details and booking are on the website.

We’re currently putting a lot of energy into creating new events for next year, with plenty of new ideas in the pipeline.We’ll also be putting on Element’s familiar courses and there are already two Beginning Fell Running dates out for April.

As well as the Beginning Mountain Biking weekend, I’m currently ‘in conversation’ and hoping to take the Beginning Fell Running day north to the Lake District.
We’re also looking at creating some active ‘journeys’ involving getting off the beaten track walking and exploring for a couple of nights, being away from it all and having that sense of a journey in nature which is something special.

Mike Carter is also going to run a Travel Writing weekend later in the year – the written word is one of the most evocative ways to capture experience and you’ll be in great, experienced hands with Mike, who is one of the top travel writers at the Guardian and the Financial Times, as well as being the author of three successful travel books. For three years, Mike also ran the Guardian’s Travel Writing masterclass weekends.

All this Covid uncertainty has made it very tricky offering courses in the second part of this year, but we’ve done all right. We hosted a fabulous group of wonderful women on an In Your Element weekend in September and have managed a number of Beginning Fell Running courses and also a day with Malvern Buzzards running club. It’s not an easy time to steer a small and growing business. At the moment, the loss feels to be in the positive, active, funny, uplifting, real connections between people, which is what Element courses are all about.

Many thanks for the small acts of kindness that some people have shown us over the last few months. One lady who’d paid and then couldn’t come on her course left her money with us. I then used this to pay Element’s subscription to The Gwent Wildlife Trust, who are also finding things challenging at the moment. Thanks to everyone who has rescheduled dates and been so positive and patient with it all.

So, paying it forwards, small acts, getting out of the door, celebrating all weathers and keeping the heart and legs turning over is all ‘grist to this mill’ of this moment. There’s a mantra a lot of us use in sport when things are getting tough which is ‘Dig Deep’, and it seems to be useful now.

As Christmas approaches, just a note to say that we do gift vouchers for any amount – you can purchase a place on a course (or put money towards a course), if you’d like to give someone the gift of ‘an experience’, as opposed to more ‘stuff’. Just email me (

More soon and until then: stick with us, bookmark us, follow us on social media and stay connected. Let’s hope that by the spring of 2021 things might be a little more ‘normal’. It would be great to see you again.

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