I am a regular subscriber to Country Walking Magazine for the beautiful walks that they feature, right across the UK.
At the end of 2015, they started talking about the #walk1000miles in 2016 challenge, which amounts to 2.74 miles per day. I decided I would sign up for it and dutifully joined the Facebook Page that had been set up.
So, far, as I write this on 12th September 2016, I have walked 777 miles.
How have I recorded my progress?
With the Challenge, there was no fixed definition of what counted as a mile or not. It is based on being honest with yourself as to what counts as a mile for you personally. I decided that I would record “boots-on” miles, where I have gone out of the house and gone for a walk. Some people were recording every step, and so every mile, with an activity tracker but I did not want to do that. Initially I was not recording my almost daily shopping trips around town, until I realised they could easily be up to 2 miles, so I started to include those.
I have been using the Free Endomondo app on my phone, which has been great. It records my mileage along with telling me how long it takes to walk each mile and a host of other useful information.
I started off slowly with only 34 miles walked in January. There were a lot of wet days and a lot of days where I could not motivate myself to go out. I got started properly in February and walked 126 miles. This was made up of some quite long walks (12-15 miles) but I also walked most days, which made a huge difference. My walking patterns have been quite erratic and I have had bouts of missing days and then trying to make this up with longer walks, which has not been as productive as it could have been.
During August I set my goal for completion of the challenge and then worked out how many miles I still needed to walk to reach that goal. It averaged out at 4.5 miles per day, so I decided I would walk 5 miles every day, regardless of the weather. When I started to do this, I lost 7lb in that month, my stomach and legs toned up and I felt so much better. Consistency seems to be the real key to Success!
I have now started to make my daily walk the first priority in my day, so I go out as early as I can. I have stated to get up at 6am and be out the door by 6.30am. I have seen some marvellous sunrises with doing this and it sets me up for my day. I prefer to do a circular route where possible. Otherwise I walk a certain number of miles along the canal path and then turn round and go back.
Where have I walked?
A lot of my walks have been within 10 miles of my front door. I have walked along the Coventry Canal and Birmingham and Fazeley Canal a fair bit as they are on my doorstep. I love Hopwas Woods, which I can get to without taking the car. Sutton Coldfield Park is close to me as is Cannock Chase.
We have been on holiday to North Devon, where I grew up as well as a fabulous trip to Tenerife, where I walked around on the hot, volcanic rocks of Mount Teide. I have accompanied Greg to football matches to Bolton and walked up to Rivington Pike and Winter Hill, which are above the football stadium. Wherever Greg and I have gone and for whatever reason, I tried to find somewhere to go for a walk in that area.
I have followed several of the routes in the Country walking Magazine, including Bradgate Park (Spring 2016 ) in Leicestershire, a very muddy route around Colton near Rugeley (November 2015), a lovely walk that started at the Market Bosworth Heritage Centre and culminated with a ride on an old-fashioned steam train (June 2015), a leg-aching climb up the Wrekin in Shropshire(March 2015) and another attempt at being a mountain goat to climb to the top of Thorpe Cloud in the Dovedale Valley (July 2015).
What have I gained?
I have acquired an addiction to a daily 5-10 mile walk and I become very grumpy if I don’t go out walking for a few days! I have lost weight, my body shape has changed and my legs and stomach have toned up. Along with this I have become calmer and more optimistic with less clutter in my brain and a greater ability to quickly process and clear negativity.
Certain stretches of particular walks have become a bit of a stomping ground for marching out anger, frustration and other unhelpful emotions. Very therapeutic!
I have lost my desire for stodgy cake, particularly in the middle of a walk as it slows me down and makes me sluggish for the remainder of my walk. A nice cup of tea in the middle of the walk still goes down very well. I have found I am eating a lot less chocolate and sweets. My overall diet seems to have simplified and I am eating much less carbs.
I have developed a greater and greater delight in my own company and as such have become much more anti-social! I am not sure if this is a benefit or a challenge!
What has been challenging?
In the early part of the year heavy rain and muddy paths were very challenging. I don’t particularly like wearing waterproof trousers because I have quite short legs and the trousers get caught under the bottom of my boots and cause me to trip up.
I still have not mastered the fine art of climbing over a stile in a ladylike fashion, without falling on my nose!
My husband Greg is a photographer, so when he comes out with me, we walk for a bit and then we stop to take photographs, which has led to me not walking as far as I would like. We have yet to work out the best compromise for this situation.
Time and budgetary constraints have meant that I have not visited as many new places as I would like and I have found myself getting a bit bored with the same walks in the same places.
Support, Encouragement and Celebration
There has been an enormous amount of support from the Facebook group. The group has focused on walking and has always been very positive. Members have offered each other support and encouragement as well as celebrating the success of reaching the next milestone.
I have dipped in and out, making some contributions from time and time, as well as reading many of the posts. Joining the group was a great motivator for me as it has given me some accountability. Having seen other people’s success stories pop up in my Facebook timeline has kept me inspired to press on with my own goals. Being a member of the Facebook group has meant that quitting was never really an option – even though there have been days when I have felt like giving up!
I have proudly worn my #walk1000miles 2016 base layer t-shirt on most walks this year and I just wish I had bought two of them!
I shall be signing up to the challenge again next year to keep myself motivated to get out and walk. I really love my daily 5 mile walks, so I think my daily target may well be 5 miles per day, instead of 2.74 miles.