Katy Parrott explains why outdoor adventures are so important

Katy Parrott is an adventurer, ultra runner, and #TeamMontane athlete, synonymous with her love for the outdoors and the need to constantly push herself Further. Faster.

Originally from Bristol, Katy put her love for sport and fitness to the test in 2016 and signed up to the BBC series Special Forces: Ultimate Hell Week, revealing a physical and mental resilience she didn’t know she had, which made her want to explore those limits. Katy has since started ultra running and competing in endurance events, and in 2018 won a #MyMontane competition, coming third in the 100km Cotswold Way Ultra to seal her place as a Montane athlete.

In 2020 she unfortunately suffered a major knee injury which required reconstruction surgery; however, she has since recovered well and last year took part in the 2022 Montane Lapland Artic Ultra (MLAU), finishing fourth overall and second-placed female after completing the 185km route. With plenty of exciting plans and adventures on the horizon, Katy has only just scratched the surface of what she can achieve.

  • Why is adventure important?

Adventure is such a relative word. It’s so different for everyone, so it’s important to not compare yourself to others. Find what adventure means to you and explore that. Adventure is amazing for seeing new places, meeting new people but ultimately, I think it’s about self-discovery for me. What can I learn about myself and my physical and mental limits? What can I learn from others I meet along the way that inspire me? Meeting amazing people whilst out on adventures, has often inspired me to get planning a new adventure, or re-kindle old ideas.

  • What has adventure taught you?

Adventure has taught me that I can achieve so much more than I ever thought. It has also taught me to be humble. Being out in harsh environments, it doesn’t always go to plan, so you need to be prepared to be flexible and not let your ego get in the way sometimes. It has also taught me that adventure doesn’t have to be some big expedition in a country far way. Some of my best adventures have been exploring from my doorstep.

  • Your best/favourite adventure/achievement to date

My proudest achievement was completing the Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra in March 2022 – 185km pulling all my kit in a pulk. I had never done an arctic ultra before, so I was stepping into the unknown. I was also only 15 months post a major knee reconstruction surgery, so I honestly didn’t know how I would cope. But I wanted a comeback challenge that would test me physically as well as mentally, and help me find my spark again after a year of intensive rehab. It was a phenomenal experience; I learned so much, loved being emersed in the arctic landscape and to top it off, I came 4th overall in the 185km race, and second female. I totally exceeded my expectations.

  • Getting the right nutrition for your adventure

Do what works for you. It’s easy to see others using gels or supplements and think you should be doing the same but listen to your body and what it needs. I’ve struggled with getting nutrition right in the past, either not eating enough or eating the wrong things. But I’ve now learned what works for me and what doesn’t. I mostly crave savoury real foods – nuts, croissants, crisps, pasta, cheese etc… but quickly get sick of lots of sweet items so I limit these to ones I know I’ll always enjoy and are highly calorific, such as yoghurt coated raisins and chocolate peanuts. I’d say trial and error is your best bet to find out your nutrition ‘go to’s’. And always take spares in case of emergencies!

  • Importance of using the right kit, including your favourite piece of kit

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong kit choice. I remind myself of this on the rainier days, so it helps encourage me to still get out. Having the right kit is so important to help you stay safe and enjoy the outdoors. I always check the weather before heading out to make sure I have the right kit and clothing to be prepared for any conditions I may face. For example, if I head out on a long trail run, I will generally take my Montane Phase Lite Waterproof Jacket, gloves, headband and a torch (time of day dependent) in my Montane Gecko VP pack just in case!

I’d say two essential bits of kit for the great outdoors are a decent GORE-TEX outer shell and a good insulation layer. My current favourite jacket is the Montane Anti-freeze Hoody – it’s so light yet warm and has had some great mountain trips – most recently, climbing Mt Toubkal in Morocco.

  • Importance of setting goals

I generally tell people I trust what my goals are, because this helps me keep a level of accountability to that goal. I also set goals that scare me a little bit, as I find I can use that fear to help keep me focused and dedicated to training. If I set myself goals that I already knew I can achieve, then there’s no point in setting it. I’m interested to see how much further I can push my mind and body. I also ensure I surround myself with positive and like-minded people who will support me, cheer me on, and help keep me on track on those days I lack motivation.

  • Motivating yourself to get outdoors on cold/unpleasant days

I got asked after a talk recently whether I struggle to motivate myself, or do I always get up early and be buzzing to train. I absolutely struggle to motivate myself some days, I’m only human! But I always remind myself of the bigger goal, and also tell myself that I know I will feel better for it. The runners high is a real thing! I always feel great after getting out and exercising, no matter what the weather.

  • Importance of discipline and commitment

Discipline is so important, because once you stick to a routine, it becomes a habit. When it becomes a habit, it then becomes a lifestyle, which is much easier to maintain as it doesn’t feel like a chore anymore. Health and fitness has now become such an integral part of my lifestyle that I notice a difference when I get out of a routine. I get quite grouchy if I don’t exercise! My old boss once referred to me as being a puppy – feed me and exercise me and I’m happy!

Katy Parrott is a #TeamMontane athlete. More information can be found here.

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