Top tips for success in the Cateran Yomp
With this year’s 54-mile Cateran Yomp taking place non June 10, Angus-based Army PT Mike Mooney offers his experience with some great tips for success.
What is the Cateran Yomp?
A yomp is the military term for a long-distance march. The Cateran Yomp is a Scottish adventure challenge for teams of three to six people that extends to 54 miles (the gold route) of Scottish wilderness.
This is a tough endurance event, witnessed by the fact that just 350 of the 856 participants who signed up for the Cateran Yomp gold route last year crossed the finish line. This event is known for pushing participants to physical and mental limits.
The event raises funds for the ABF The Soldiers’ Charity – the Army’s National Charity since 1944. The charity supports thousands of soldiers, veterans and their immediate families each year. See www.soldierscharity.org
See Cateran Yomp
Who is Mike Mooney?
Mike has been an Army serviceman since the age of 15. The Army Physical Training (Master-at-Arms) expert is now 68. He is a veteran of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps and a 14-year army and combined services athletic champion. He has represented the Forces, for his native Wales, at athletics, rugby and football and squash.
Now living in Blairgowrie, an Angus town that overlooks the Cateran Yomp trail, Mike is offering a boot camp training facility for next year’s participants. He also strategic advice for teams taking part this summer.
How to be successful at the Cateran Yomp
There are five key concepts that Mike believes best combine to create a strong team spirit for the Cateran Yomp 2017.
Teams should be formed based on:
- Collective and individual courage and determination.
- A plan that is followed through.
- Respect for each team member, including both strengths and weaknesses, and their contribution to the collective.
- A level of integrity that ensures each part functions to the same level of commitment – regardless of ability.
- Loyalty to each other and a commitment to a common goal.
These five teambuilding concepts are the building blocks of every successful team endeavour, whether for soldiers or civilians.
How to plan for success in the Cateran Yomp
1 Choose your leader
The choice of leader is the key component for success. As are the allocations of other roles and responsibilities in the team.
The leader sets the tone for the culture of the team. Mike says: “The right leader can help the collective to rise above the inevitable motivational dips that occur and ensure that every member of the team is looked after, from the weakest to the strongest.”
2 Create your plan together
Mike says: “The key is that your team create, write up and sign off on a formal plan. That way you can be sure that everyone knows what they need to do.”
He also suggests that the team plans to break the big goals into smaller goals and prepare properly with progressive fitness training.
3 Allocate the other roles
Find out what each team member can do well – and what they can’t. For example, who is the best map reader? Who can take care of the first aid kit? Who will make sure that the kit is all taken care of or that everyone has their training programme? Who can research all the various jobs that will need to be completed? All this must be resolved as soon as the plan is in place.
4 Accept the reality of pressure
Nothing worthwhile has ever been achieved without stress or pressure and Mike says that in order to be successful every team must open themselves to being tested and to contemplating failure.
Mike says: “It is only through pressure and rising to challenges that teams improve. And they should welcome, rather than fear, the difficulties placed in front of them.
“Try to gather as much information as you can in advance – the likely weather, the reality of the terrain and the look and feel of the course. Accept that team members will suffer with a range of issues, such as anxieties and frustrations, motivation dips and illness, family problems and a fear of letting teammates down.”
Knowing your roles means that individuals can play their part in getting everyone else back on track.
5 Set honest goals and break down tasks into small steps
If you manage expectations and manage time efficiently you’ll set realistic goals that everyone will feel confident about striving towards.
Mike says: “Unrealistic expectations – especially if delivered by a leader – are a real problem. They lead to disillusionment and recriminations.”
6 Practice and prepare
When you fail to practice and prepare what you’ll need to do you open the door for splits in the team. Typical areas of conflict will include kit, perceptions of colleagues and their effort and contribution and a breakdown of co-operation.
Mike says: “Repetition creates familiarity with tasks and builds confidence in their successful execution. Incremental practice is what will allow you to control your so-called panic zone and keep on top of the challenge. The small goals are the milestones to success.”
7 Pre-empt discomfort
Address and prepare for any physical problems such as blisters, skin rubs etc. Make sure your kit person is up to speed with the stock of Vaseline, plasters and spare laces – all the things that will head off discomfort.
Physical discomfort is a real barrier to success and it also destroys morale, yet it can largely be managed
8 Be brave
Courage creates leaders and it also leads to increased operational capability. Courage comes from within but it is augmented and extended by the team.
9 Have fun
Mike says: “I am always looking for real life operational examples that soldiers and civilians can relate to and I was recently struck by the words of a commander in Afghanistan who said, ‘I wish I had invested more time in simple team-building exercises, like sport and adventure training. We would have done well to focus less on technical skills that soldiers pick up very quickly in theatre and foster instead the bonds of loyalty that lead men to extraordinary acts.’ “
He adds: “The laughs and fun you have along the way will bind your team together when the going gets tough.”
10 Keep a diary
Whatever you’re doing, whenever you are doing it, Mike believes your progress will be both surer and quicker if you all keep a diary.
He says: “It’s good to write done things such as how you are coping with the training and preparation, whether you should be doing more, what tasks are enjoyable and which are not.”
By writing all this down you can take your findings back to the team and with a reliable record of your feelings and your progress you can all have your say and work on a strategy to deal with the issues that arise as you go. Doing that will prevent a blow-up of frustrations and emotions at exactly the point when you most need to stick together.