7 Ways to Think Small and Achieve Big

…. And cycle from London to Paris in just 24 Hours.

SportPursuit Champion, Sophie Radcliffe, shares with us her tips for staying focused during endurance challenges and thinking small to achieve your goals.

 “One mile at a time, keep spinning those legs and we’ll get there.” 

I encouraged Sam and George.  It was 4am as we disembarked the ferry in Dieppe harbour. Surrounded by darkness and barely awake, we were about to start the French stage of a 24 hour London to Paris cycle ride. Feeling the weight of the 120 mile cycle ahead of us, I knew the only way to get through it was to break it down and think small.

Here’s 7 steps that are essential for helping me get through big challenges I undertake and I hope they will go a little way in helping you reach your goals too.

1. Believe in yourself

today is not that day2

Sam had contacted me a few weeks prior explaining that they wanted to cycle from London to Paris in 24 hours and needed a leader. Someone to guide, motivate and help them achieve this goal. Having completed it four times over the last few years, it seemed like a great idea to get paid to cycle and do what I love. Yet the doubts set in. What if I get lost? What if we don’t make it in 24 hours? What if they’re faster cyclists than me?

I started to break down the task ahead and ask myself a series of questions to confirm that I was indeed the right person for the job. Have I got the right experience? Can I cycle the distance? Do I have the right kit? Do I want to do it? The answers to all these questions were “yes”. I believed I was the right person for the job, I desperately wanted to do it and I wanted to prove to myself I could.

2. Prepare like a boss

sophie radcliffe cycling 3
Find everything you’ll need for the trip in our Cycling Store

Achieving any goal is dependent on your preparation. I break it down into small sections and work out what I need to successfully achieve my goal. For London to Paris, I organised my route, booked travel arrangements, created a kit list, worked out logistics and advised them on training. When it comes to crunch time, you want to know you’ve done all you can to give yourself the best chances of success. As they say,“ fail to prepare, prepare to fail”.

3. Train your mind


Next, I focus on mental preparation. In training, people can spend the majority of their time on physical preparation and often forget about the mind. When completing an event, your mind will be your biggest obstacle. It’s your mind that will give in to the physical discomfort and want to quit before your body needs to. There’s no doubt about it, you need to train your mind.

4. Keep a positive mindset


Visualise what it’s going to feel like completing your goal. Imagine yourself feeling strong, confident and positive. Practise getting comfortable with being uncomfortable so you can drive through these experiences and not allow the physical discomfort to deter you from completing your goal. You need to know that you can rely on your mind to be positive and have the strength to overcome low moments and times of doubt. Create a bank of positive and motivating thoughts to help you get through these moments. They might be songs, quotes, messages from friends and family or rewards when you complete your goal. That first beer, a hug from your partner, a shower, or steak-frites as was the case with our London to Paris ride!

Create a bank of positive and motivating thoughts to help you get through these moments.

5. Take a leap of faith

You may well be completing something that seems insurmountable. It might be your first 10k run, 100 mile cycle, triathlon or ultramarathon. It’s likely the thought “how on earth am I going to do that” is running through your mind. I had this when I first cycled London to Paris, completed Ironman Wales and ran from London to Brighton one Saturday. There’s a gap in your mind between what you know you can do and what you need to do. This gap can only be bridged with self-belief and a leap of faith. It’s the only way!

6. Break it down


It’s D-Day. You’ve done all the preparation you can and now it’s time to see what you’re made of. It’s your opportunity to challenge yourself and see what you can deliver when it’s all to play for. You need to break it down. If you think about the big goal or the final destination you won’t feel the progress you’re making along the way. Making progress helps you feel positive and confident and if you come from a place of strength, you can do anything.

If you come from a place of strength, you can do anything.

London to Paris


sophie radcliffe cycling 5 L2Proute

Cycling from London to Paris in 24 hours involves cycling 200 miles with a three hour break on the ferry. It’s a tough challenge and throws you right out of your comfort zone. I broke it down into sizeable and manageable chunks; 30 miles until the first town and breakfast. The freshly baked croissants were a welcome treat for hungry cyclists! I encouraged the crew to eat and drink little and often. I kept them focused on the next target, “20 miles until the next town and a coffee break. 25 miles until the one after that and we’ll get some food”.

7. Think small to achieve big

50 miles outside of Paris and the rain started. It didn’t let up for the remainder of the ride. I’d never cycled in conditions like that, we were soaked through. The only way to get through it was to keep spirits high and keep our motivations focused on the goal. We talked about arriving in Paris and of the sweet taste of well-earned beer. I encouraged them to think small and keep focusing the next stage; “one mile at a time, keep spinning those legs.” 23.5 hours after leaving Tower Bridge we arrived at the Eiffel Tower, mission completed.

Need some inspiration to get started? Check out our collection of the 8 greatest cycling documentaries  or Sophie’s own blog www.challengesophie.com – we challenge you to walk away not feeling uplifted!


About the Author
10265543_638999936187278_7303978065088449560_o SOPHIE RADCLIFFEFavourite Sports:  Cycling, Mountaineering, Adventure

Lives:  Chamonix, FranceFavourite

Brands:  Haglofs, RAB

Motto to live by:  One life, live it.


See Sophie’s full profile