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Florence: The Evolution of Resiliency

Kia ora again!

It’s not long until the expedition!! I’m so excited and also nervous… I know that on the expedition, I will want to give up at some point. But I also know that I will do everything that I possibly can to be resilient and keep going!! Jesus has already talked about what resiliency is, but how do we become a more resilient people? First up, for me being resilient means being able to continue despite challenges, and to bounce back quickly after any setbacks. This might be physically or mentally.

One challenge I faced during high school was when I went on exchange to France. At the start, being in a different culture with a different language was overwhelming: all I really wanted to do was hide in my bedroom. However, I was able to overcome this challenge and slowly adapt to French life. Thinking about it now, there are several things that have helped me to be resilient in difficult situations in the past. These should be helpful on the expedition!

Because I’m an ecology student and this post is entitled “The Evolution of Resilience”, I couldn’t stop myself from making a phylogeny portraying the evolution of resilience. Like all phylogenies, it is my hypothesis (based on my personal experience); there are probably other pathways to resilience. The things at the top are those that I think come first, in order to progress on to being a Homo resilianta at the bottom.

Social support networks are my base. In France I had a great host family who and people back home who I could contact when I needed to. In my blog about social media, I talked about how the social media support that you and others provide is extremely helpful to me in my training. On the expedition itself, we are lucky to have the youth ambassador team and the support crew, as well as the schools who will be following!! Valerie mentioned in her recent video how important this will be to us as we’re hurting from running.

After social support, I think that preparation is vital in being resilient. These do overlap of course, because part of preparation could be building the support network. This might be learning French in school, or training for the upcoming expedition. Like Jesus said in his video about resiliency, our current training can be compared to giving ourselves insurance for the expedition because this preparation is vital to our success. An important thing I have recently learned about my preparation is that with the training, I need to look after myself. I currently need A LOT more sleep and food than normal, otherwise I am tired and grumpy – not at all prepared for the challenges of going to class, doing assignments and training! Kind of like this:

Past experience is linked to preparation. It’s the ability to learn from other similar situations and mistakes and apply this to new situations. Basically, I see it as a shortcut around challenges and a step up to help overcome setbacks. I’ve learnt that in the past, in order to avoid “Grumpy Cat Florence”, I need to practice personal sustainability in terms of sleeping, eating, drinking enough water and setting aside time to relax.

Finally, when we have a good support network, preparation and past experience, we are best able to learn skills. Things like problem solving, knowing when to ask for help, maintaining a positive attitude, being curious about things, understanding your needs and what will help you to get through the challenge, and understanding the causes of your feelings. One technique that has helped me in races is positive affirmations like repeating to myself ‘Kia Kaha” which means in Maori “be strong”, or saying “I can do this!”. Other skills might be more physical...

The next step on the evolution of resilience is building resilient communities that are able to adapt to disasters. Jesus mentioned in his video on resilience, his friends’ resilience after Hurricane Katrina. In New Zealand, we had a similar situation with several major earthquakes in Christchurch a few years ago. The community responded amazingly to this setback. As an ecology student, I am really interested in communities (of people, as well as flora and fauna) and how these can become more resilient in the face of global changes. I think that many of the characteristics of resilient people cross over into characteristics of resilient communities.

Can you help us to become more resilient? We’d love to know what helps you to be resilient!! Please post this on Twitter or Facebook, using the hashtag #JoinTheTeam.

May the force (of resilience) be with you!


Alessandro explains the importance of international calls and time management


As mentioned in the older posts we’re from different countries so there are several different time zones in the Team but that’s not a problem for our weekly Skype hangout. We alternate the time of the call every week: the first week Flo has to wake up very early, the following week I go bed late in order to be present, but we’re happy to make this effort as the rest of teammates who “sacrifice” their lunch spare time.

Calls are very important as a learning moment because every week we add a piece of the puzzle that will give us the basics for the expedition: we had conversations with the nutritionist Stephanie, who talked about the proper nutrition during and off the training,with coaches John, Michael and Derrick who explained the correct running technique and all the training plan; with the factotums Jill and Bob who do a big amount of the “dirty work”, the unstoppable Ray, and the rest of the i2P family which support us in every single moment.

One of the first call has “The time management” as a main topic: during the day we lose a lot of time just for refresh Facebook, Twitter and other socials. Personally when I think «Ok I see if I’ve a new notifications and then I come back to study» the truth is that I stay on Facebook mins and mins losing precious time.

Managing time it’s not simple and I’m sure that doesn’t matter if you’re a 15 years old student, a 50 years old business man or a 35 years old mom because you’ve the same problem: the time…it’s never enough. 24 hours seem a big amount of time but the truth is that is smaller than what could appear: with 7 hours sleeping and 5 hours of lesson (and more for a worker), so half of a day is already occupied. Unfortunately we’re not allowed sleeping during school or work, so we need to optimize the remaining time. Motions…lost time or not? It depends on what you do during that: generally I study and eat when I’m coming back, and I relax reading a book or having fun with my friends when I’m going to the University…I’m not able to study in the early morning. Then you’ve meal times, hobby or training time, and the other small things and tasks that are part of our day.

As you can see, during the day we’ve to take several decisions in order to don’t lose time and do all what we want and have to do; studying after dinner it’s definitely not my favorite hobby but sometimes it’s the only way. Last but not least, don’t forget relax time and mental tapering…we aren’t machines and our body need rest.

Jill suggested us to try the Stephen Covey four quadrants.

A small anecdote: lots of self-trained triathletes (generally age-groupers) have work and family but don’t want to cut off their training time, so they generally reduce the sleeping time…and the consequence is that they didn’t improve themselves and have bad races. Why? Because rest isn’t just the time when we aren’t training, school or work could be more stressful than workout. The coach advice is: if you’ve few time for training you need to focus on quality and forget quantity.

Just to stay in argument, I’m writing this post on the train while I’m coming back home for another fantastic running session.