It started with an off-hand comment
Throwing me a copy of the Country Walking Magazine my friend said “here you should try this”.
Emblazoned across the front of the mag was a challenge to walk 1000 miles in a year.
I looked at the magazine trying to comprehend what a 1000 miles looked like in a year?
“Sounds like a lot of miles to me” I replied thoughtfully.
“The amount of walking you do, you should do it easily” he confidently told me.
Still not really taking in what going for such a challenge might mean I was slowly warming to the idea, especially if it did not mean any extra effort on my part, and I do like a challenge – within reason!
I came to the conclusion that if by doing my usual weekly walks I could walk 1000 miles, then why not take it up. The magazine said that any walking qualified like the daily walk for the bus, but I decided that I would only include the times that I deliberately went out for a walk.
So from late January I happily carried on doing my usual weekly walks writing down the mileage feeling comfortable and smug – I will ‘walk’ this one I thought!
A shocking realisation
In May I decided to take a look at my progress. I figured the best way to measure how I was doing was to divide the 1000 miles by the twelve months of the year, which is 84 miles a month.
“WHAT that’s 21 miles a week, I never walk that”! The shocking reality of the challenge hit me squarely between the eyes.
In a slight state of discomfort I worked out the accumulative total for each month through the year and discovered I was about 100 miles behind schedule. This was a terrible blow, so much for me being able to easily do this. The challenge had taken on a new twist, suddenly it was a challenge, one that I was not doing very well in.
Reviewing my rules about what qualified.
From then on a deliberate walk took on a whole new meaning. Somehow I had to walk more miles, so a two mile walk around my local park – that now counted. During the later part of the year park walks became more frequent, I would quite often nip out in the evening for an hours walk. Which after a while I started to really appreciate, after the days activities it was good to get out for a quiet hour walking through the park in the dark finding my ‘centre’ again.
For about three months I decided that my walks had to be at least twenty miles long instead of the usual twelve to fifteen. I think you are supposed to get used to long walks the more you do them, but somehow my knees did not understand this and pains that had disappeared long ago started to return. Some walks became and act of will when my body was saying “no – armchair, armchair”, but I pressed on dragging my reluctant body for yet one more ‘deliberate long walk’.
I have to say in contrast to that, that I have had some brilliant walks this year, walking up Moel Siabod being one of the most outstanding and a 26 mile walk in the Chiltern Hills being the longest, which surprisingly I felt fine doing and could have continued for a few more miles, but it was dark and I had found my car.
This year I have completed the North Downs Way, done half of the Cotswold Way as well as walking in the Peaks, North Wales and the East Coast not to mention numerous walks around Leicestershire (my home county). Each time clocking up the miles with the aid of the View Ranger app on my phone.
Target completed before the end of December
I was surprised how quickly I caught up with and overtook my monthly targets reaching my final target of 10000 miles two weeks ahead of schedule – yes I am now a 10000 mile walker. My final walk down the Dane Valley Way cracked it – and I got the badge.
I recommend the challenge.
Walking is recognised as one of the healthiest exercises to participate in and almost anybody can do it, no special skills or talents required just the ability to put one foot in front of the other. Walking can take you to some very interesting and beautiful places. Some of these are on your doorstep, and in some ways I think it is a greater pleasure to discover these because they are a part of your life story.
When it comes to exercise we all need to make a commitment and the 1000 mile challenge is an excellent way to make a commitment to regular walking. Perhaps the alternative could be to buy a dog, but that is more expensive! For many of us the idea of exercise conjures up ideas of sweating it out in a gym, but walking is a much more genial way to become more healthy.
It is also good for your mental health scientists say that being out of doors helps those suffering from depression and stress, and if you take regular time out to walk it is an ideal way to ‘re-centre’.
Country Walking Magazine are running the challenge again for 2019, I do not think I will sign up for it this time but I will keep up the regular walks – I think it might have become a habit!