By Grace Ballinger

Ten of us from the Emerging Players Programme (EPP) and Academy recently set of to the Lake District, along with the coaching team, for a series of challenges at the Waktu Challenge centre in preparation for the new season.

After breakfast we discovered our itinerary for the day and were introduced to the five points that we would need throughout the day; self-belief, leadership, mental toughness, communication and self-awareness.

We then stated a warm-up before being split into two groups and were set the challenge of climbing the mountain and completing a series of tasks in-between.

Each member was required to spend a period of time leading the group, whilst our strength, stamina, self-belief and awareness were all put to the test.

We finally ended the 600m climb with a race up to the summit, which really tested my drive and fitness after already being tired. However, the view at the end was beautiful and really gave us a sense of satisfaction and pride in what we had achieved. In total, we had travelled six miles uphill.

After a much needed lunch, we travelled via speedboat to begin a six-mile kayak on Lake Windermere. We were put into kayaks in pairs and were given tremendous encouragement from the coaching team who watched from the boat.

Luckily the weather was kind to us and we worked in sunshine but I was certainly feeling the burn in my legs and core, and doubted whether I could complete all six miles. However, after we had a brief break halfway and swapped pairs, we raced around the island and made it back quicker than we got there.

From that, I felt a real sense of pride and could really relate it back to cricket. It made me realise just how much I had left in the tank despite doubting myself. It proved that you can always push yourself further than you may think.

The views on the way were fantastic and the feeling at the end unbelievable, despite being unable to walk for a little bit!

Once all showered and changed we went back for dinner in the hotel, which looked onto the lake. Our instructor, Tom, told us a story that he was witnessed himself, of which the underlying message was to never give in and to push all the way.

I took so much from the story; it was incredible and hard-hitting. Overall, this challenge was probably the most testing and difficult thing that I have ever done. Not only did it improve my fitness, it helped me learn things about myself, about others and it bought me close toh a lot of other EPP and Academy players.

Thanks to our coaching team and to Waktu Fitness for a fantastic experience.