Laura Kennington is a British adventure athlete with a passion for the pushing the endurance capabilities of the human body.
A strong believer in the positive impact that adventure and sport can have on children and adults alike, Laura uses her human powered journeys as a platform to inspire and encourage others to get outside.
We got the opportunity to ask Laura a number of questions about her adventurous life, the book she is currently writing and how positive thinking got her through the tough moments on the last adventure cycling from Scotland to Norway.
Can you explain how you first got into outdoor adventure? How did you turn that into a career?
Well, early childhood was always pretty adventurous – I grew up on a farm in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Lots of exploring, lots of mud! In later years, I got a little sidetracked by all the things we’re told a successful adult should have. I worked a job I hated just to save up for a mortgage I didn’t really want and to buy loads of stuff I didn’t need! I rediscovered adventure after hitting a bit of a life rut. I qualified as a Personal Trainer as a flexible way of earning money and it all sparked from there! All of my adventures are generally based around this unifying principle of “what is my body capable of?”. Turning it into a career has been a gradual process; my main income comes from giving public talks, writing and occasionally some brand partnerships, too.
What does a ‘day in the life’ of Laura look like?
My days vary quite a lot! I’m often travelling for talks/brand collaborations, so that keeps things interesting. I’m currently editing my first book so in between all of that I’m usually sat in front of my laptop in a cafe tending to the boring admin side of things! Writing a book is a huge project so I’ve had to prioritise “laptop time” to make sure I get it done!
Fitness wise, I’m currently maintaining a good baseline of fitness until it’s time to ramp training up for the next challenge. This means that if I’m in London, I’ll squeeze in a training session at F45 Stratford or sometimes I’ll just pack my running shoes if I’m staying out of town for a talk and/or treat myself to some hotel room yoga! Now that the weather’s warming up I’m getting out on the bike more, too (hooray!).
You mentioned there about writing a book, can you tell us more about that?
Yes – an adventure in itself! It covers a wide range of adventures – from the very first one in 2015 up until the latest one in 2018. It’s been an eventful few years so the book is packed full of lessons on everything from building an income to mindset and dealing with curve balls!
You have become famous for taking on big physical challenges. Do you have a favourite challenge you have undertaken so far?
Each of them are special for different reasons but if I had to pick an absolute favourite it would probably have to be my ride across Ireland in 2015. I’m half Irish and discovering the Irish coast that I’d heard my grandparents talk about was really special for me. The scenery was outrageous, the people were beautifully warm and welcoming and although the journey was tough in many ways, I feel like it was a very formative challenge for me. There’s just something magical about Ireland that makes it impossible to forget.
I think the main motivation behind everything I do is just trying to find out what I’m capable of
– Laura Kennington
Your last big adventure was bike touring from Scotland across Europe and into Norway. We followed your adventure via Instagram and it looked pretty epic, but a serious physical and mental challenge to complete. How do you overcome these challenges when you’re doing solo adventures that push your body and mind so hard?
I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned from solo challenges is the importance of a positive mindset. Which isn’t to say there aren’t times when you feel low and perhaps need to have a little cry/roadside tantrum but as a rule I make a list of 3 things to feel grateful for – every single day, no matter what. It sounds minor but when you’ve had a really horrible day, your inner gremlins are perhaps shouting a bit louder than usual. Refocussing on simple little nuggets to feel happy about become an essential coping strategy for me. I think it’s important to be kind to yourself, too. If all else fails, I also firmly believe in turning up the music and dancing it out!
What advice would you give to those wanting to solo travel, or solo adventure?
Solo adventure can feel scary but ultimately, it will make you stronger, more confident and you’ll build a powerful sense of self-reliance. We live on a phenomenal planet and most people are incredibly kind, so don’t pay attention to the tabloid headlines. When it gets overwhelming, just chunk it down and focus on the next little bit instead of the whole thing – repeat as often as necessary, adding chocolate at your own discretion.
What piece of kit could you not live without and why?
Top of the list has to be a water filter! I use an MSR filter that means I can easily fill up my water bottles and have water to cook from using any nearby water source, without having to carry litres of clean drinking water!
You are a big advocate for positive thinking and that this can drive you through a physical challenge. Why do you think positive mental attitude is so important in outdoor adventure?
I mentioned this above, too but I think a positive mental attitude is important in everyday life as well as adventure. You have to get through the day either way, you might as well get through it with a smile! A change in focus often radically changes the situation. Tough times do happen, obviously, but I think positive habits build up and are useful tools to have for dealing with challenges of any kind.
Do you have any big adventures coming up?
Ask me again when I’ve released the book : )