Jamie is an acclaimed endurance runner and guest speaker. His adventures have covered over 30,000km in 28 countries, with 17,000km of those in one adventure over 367 days. He has featured on Ted Talks amongst other media outlet. He talks to us about the lessons learnt in the pursuit of happiness, the kindness in people worldwide and how Yoga has benefited him.
When did you first discover Yoga and what benefits has it brought you on your adventures?
I first discovered yoga by accident. I had a week's worth of holiday I needed to take and had nowhere to go. When I got off the tube someone thrust a leaflet into my hand saying 10 days of yoga for £10. It was hot yoga, and I had heard so many people raving about it so thought I would give it a go. I honestly thought I may pop along once or twice. After my first session I was hooked. I went every day that week and for the rest of the month. When I went back to work I made a conscious effort to find time to keep yoga as part of my routine. While working, yoga was a luxury I tried to fit in to give me an escape from my hectic lifestyle.
When I set off on my 17,000km solo running adventure from Canada to Argentina, I took a cheap yoga mat with me and tried to make it part of my resting routine to help with flexibility, recovery and keeping mentally stable.
Now yoga is something I know is an essential part of being in the best shape to tackle the challenges I set myself. The great thing about yoga is it's versatility. When I am fit it makes me stronger, when I am injured it helps me rehabilitate and the mental benefits are constant.
What have been your favourite highlights while travelling the world?
This is a question that is nearly impossible to answer. Over the last five years I have travelled over 30,000km, either on foot or on a bike, and visited nearly 30 countries. There have been many incredible moments and times when I have been surprised by what my body is capable of. My journey has taken me to many highs and a few lows but always forward. If I had to choose one thing that has been a constant is the kindness of strangers all over the world. In all the travelling I have done I have never had a bad interaction with a human being. No matter where I have been in the world I have been met with the most incredible kindness and generosity.
In the desert of Peru there is an old man called Clemente who is nicknamed “the angel of the desert”. He takes in travellers and feeds them and gives them a place to sleep. Never asks for money, just wants to hear your stories.
In the Sechura Desert, two policemen gave me an escort for a day and a half because they thought it was unsafe
In Mexico a policeman gave me money for lunch
In Baja California, a couple (Jackie and Deano) adopted me for a few days and would stop during the day and feed me. Would stop in the evening to cook for me.
After the Hayduke Trail, I got a hitch hike with a couple who went out of their way and then gave me $50 to buy lunch.
Kevin and his son Zac, gave me a lift over the Sea of Cortez in their boat and wouldn’t accept any money.
What one piece of advice would you give your younger self?
One thing I have learnt from my journey is that every mistake, wrong decision and failure I have made has contributed to me being exactly where I am today and being where I am now is what gives me the drive and motivation to continue moving forward. The past is not to be regretted or over analysed but learnt from.
That said, if I could go back then I would tell myself that if I ever found myself in a toxic environment, relationship or situation then to engineer my departure before it got inside. Too many times have I been unhappy but not had the strength, confidence or conviction to do anything decisive about it.
What has been your favourite book over the last year?
I am reading Sapiens at the moment and am really enjoying its journey through our evolution. It is fascinating to learn about where we came from and glean a better understanding of why we are where we are now.
Beyond Yoga, how else do you recuperate from your gruelling journeys?
Recuperation and recovery from big adventures is a constant learning curve. Ideally, I would rest for a few days and then gently restart training again. However, that theory can be harder in practice. This year is a prime example. I will happily admit I tried to undertake too much and didn’t give myself enough time for physical recovery and preparation before the next adventure.
The biggest learning this year has been the mental recuperation needed. This is an aspect of recovery I had never really taken into consideration. The body is a machine that if treated with respect and fuelled properly will keep performing. The mind is what keeps you moving forward and if you neglect it then your motivation and purpose can suffer.