Back at the beginning of December I was very determined that I would keep walking through the winter. I had already decided to walk the Great Glen Way and the Cleveland Way in 2016. All I had to do was be fit enough.
I checked out a number of local walking groups to help keep me motivated. I finally decided on my local Ramblers group and on my first walk out with this particular group I fell over my own two feet, on tarmac. The moment I hit that ground I knew I was hurt. I was bundled off to A&E and sure enough I had fractured my shoulder. This simple act of hurting myself has probably made me more determined than ever to complete my two planned national trails. I am sure that not all Doctors at fracture clinics are quizzed on how quick their patients would be back out walking and carrying a heavy rucksack. My doctor is still unsure about me being able to carry the rucksack on my first walk so I will definitely need to look at the option of having it moved on for me. I keep telling myself no excuses, there is a way around almost anything if you want to do something enough.
I was unable to really walk far without pain for a few weeks; however, around about New Year’s Eve I came across the #Walk 1000 miles in 2016 Challenge advertised by the magazine Country Walking. Without a minutes thought I had signed up. Taking into account that I had only been on one short and painful walk since my fall I had no idea how I was going to cope. I didn’t really expect to do well initially but I had a year to complete this challenge. I did doubt that I would manage all those miles because I generally only walk at weekends. I work very long hours during the week and couldn’t see how I would fit anything extra in. However, I did know that I can walk 10 miles each day over the weekend. That was a massive commitment but thought with the miles walked for the national trails and holidays I would be pretty near.
On my first two days I tried to see how far I could walk until it became painful. I soon realised I couldn’t push it so started doing two or even three short walks each day. By the end of week one I was amazed that I had in fact walked 21 miles. All of those little walks added up. Each week I am now able to walk a little further. I was lucky that, as I was unable to work or drive I could continue these little daily walks.
What I didn’t expect though is how strong that motivation to keep walking every day would continue. When it came to me going back to work I thought that I would try getting up an hour earlier to get a walk in that way. I had worked out a little route around town that I felt was safe enough to walk in the dark and would probably take about an hour. In the final section of my walk there is a fairly steep road which I thought was important to include. On my first morning we had a beautiful sunrise and I was so busy taking pictures I was nearly late to work. From that day I gave myself another half hour just in case. Even having to start work an hour earlier one day I just got up even earlier to include my walk. I found it a perfect start to my day. I was wide awake and alert for work with the knowledge that I had done the miles I needed for the challenge.
Every day when I finished work I would look longingly out of the window so off I would go for another walk straight from work. It’s now getting a little lighter in the evenings so I can vary that walk more with confidence.
Since the 1st January I have only missed 3 days of walking. It has become the most natural thing to get up and get out for a walk before and after work. Sometimes I can go further than others depending on what I’ve got on.
All of last year I concentrated so much on building up my walking at weekends. Distance was the most important thing to me. This challenge is more about every step counts. There is a little but steep hill near my house and I’ve used it a lot to practice walking up hills. I have always had to stop several times going up there to catch my breath. This year for the first time I walked straight up it. I almost didn’t believe I had done it. The next day I went out and thought I’d try it again. Again I got up without the need to stop. For me those little walks every day have actually improved my fitness more then all of those long walks I have done once or twice a week. That was a real lesson for me. I am still not up to walking the distances that I was before my fall but I can in fact walk further by splitting those walks and doing two walks a day. Just give myself time to recover and off I can go again.
As part of the challenge I joined the #Walk 1000 miles class of 2016 Facebook group. The best thing I could do. Very few of my friends and family are into walking like me however I now have this group of 100s of supportive walkers and we are all doing the same thing. Because of this group I’m even considering some other walking related challenges that I have learnt about through them.
As of this moment I have walked 172 miles so far since 1st January. I no longer have doubts about completing the challenge and I am feeling fitter and healthier already. Never mind the bonus of losing a few lbs along the way.