It’s National Walking Month and I’ve been out and about practicing for a Charity fundraising walk for Macmillan Cancer Support on 8th June – 26 Miles between Brighton and Eastbourne.
If you had asked me last year could I walk a Marathon – I would have said “Absolutely Not!” but, given the right impetus, motivation and support from friends, it would seem that anything is possible.
So when they was asked to sign up for such a good cause I said a very firm Yes. (and then screamed inside “what are you doing mate? You’re never going to make it.”)
It was clear I needed to get my act together as I knew I couldn’t just turn up on the day and go fo it. I needed a plan!
As with every step to improvement small changes often make the biggest difference and so I figured the best place to start was to increase my daily steps.
Step counting was a really useful tool, as it showed me in the cold light of day what I secretly knew, that I wasn’t really moving much. Whatever the reasons for this – (sat behind a desk all day, general tiredness or binge watching Game of Thrones) I had to find a way to walk more.
I started with getting up from my desk and moving about at regular intervals. This actually makes a big difference 250 steps an hour quickly adds up – I set reminders to move, even if it was just to make a cup of tea. I also started walking during my lunch break – (15 – 20 minutes will get you 1,500 to 2,000 steps) and still time for a quick sandwich.
With my goal to increase my daily steps from 5,000 to 10,000 these small changes got me a lot of the way there, and with another gentle small walk after dinner if found i could make my target.
Yes! I was on my way.
As my energy levels improved over the weeks, I started some longer 5km (approx 3 mile) walks. One of the joys of having the South Downs on our doorstep is that we are never far from a scenic trail to walk which really provides an incentive to get out there. In no time ( quicker than you would imagine) I was doing the distance comfortably and even managed the occasional longer 6-8 mile walks with my wife and two teenagers in tow. I felt ready for the next step.
My Macmillan Mighty Hike team arranged a practice 16 mile walk from Amberley to Shoreham along the beautiful South Downs Way. It would be nearly 4 hours of walking and to be honest, at this stage I was more concerned about not having enough conversation to keep us going rather than being unable to complete the walk. I wont lie the distance did worry me a bit, but I felt with good preparation and comfortable walking boots that I would be fine.
And it was. I highly recommend walking with a group of friends if you can, as not only did the time fly but the laughter had a huge motivational impact and everything seemed to take less effort. Though our chatting did cause us to miss our station on arrival due to a short platform oversight and us being three carriages away from the next available exit. After a detour and reroute back to Amberley we eventually got back on track.
The walk was beautiful and scenic rolling over the the tops of the Downs and farther than I had previously walked before, and with only one short lunch top. It was tough coming in at the last few miles but I managed to hobble into the pub in Shoreham proud of my achievement and a bit concerned that the actual walk was 5 weeks away and 10 miles longer.
The next day was difficult and painful as my muscles complained loudly to stop moving so much. I didn’t tell them that we had arranged a 20 mile walk in two weeks time. I was beginning to lose hope that I could go the distance.
After two days the muscle pain eased and I managed to keep myself walking, mostly smaller 5km walks at weekends and my daily 10,000 steps. I felt back to normal by the end of the week and more energetic to boot. things were beginning to look up again. By the time it came to the next walk, Two weeks later, I was genuinely looking forward to the challenge.
This time we Started West from Southease Village – Even more stunning that our previous walk – the route took us around Lewes, Falmer, Ditchling beacon to Devils Dyke. We were planning on walking into Hove but due to some navigational errors and a minor 3 mile detour we had already walked 22miles by the time we hit the Dyke Pub so it was down tools and time for some refreshments and a Taxi. Nice!
To my pleasant surprise this walk was much easier than before. My feet were not hurting as much even though I had gone considerably further and over much hillier terrain. My recovery time was much quicker too.
It is three weeks until the Macmillan Mighty Hike and I am feeling great – mostly because of what I have personally achieved to get here, but also because I know I will be able to cross the finish line and complete my journey in supporting Macmillan raise much needed funds for there charity work.
If you would like to Sponsor my Marathon Walk for Macmillan Cancer Support please follow this link:
Wish me luck and I will see you on the other side.