Saturday, 27 December 2014

I can walk 1000 miles ...

...  But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be that (wo)man who walked 1000 miles
Just to fall down achey and sore ...

Ok, enough of the song butchery and apologies to The Proclaimers, but seriously ... could I walk 1000 miles?

I used to get out walking every weekend. Sometimes on both days. I'd spend a lot of my holidays walking too. 1000 miles over the course of a year was easily achievable. But over the last few years, life has got in the way and my walking has got less and less. Now I rarely walk at the weekend and I've been doing less of it in my holidays (apart from my long walk in the Arctic last summer, that is).

When I walked regularly I really noticed the benefits. As well as being a generally enjoyable activity, I was fitter, less stressed and felt like I had more energy. I also felt more in tune with the time of year as I noticed the subtle changes as the seasons morphed from one to the next. It didn't matter whether I walked alone or with others, each had its additional benefits. Walking alone gave me time to think; walking with a friend or two gave me time for chit-chat and enabled us to catch up with each other's lives; walking in a group was sociable with lots of light-hearted banter. I miss all of this and really want to get this important part of my life back.

Last year Country Walking magazine challenged readers to walk 1000 miles over the course of the year. To ensure this wasn't too easy a challenge it could only include proper walks and not strolls up and down the aisles of Tesco. It doesn't have  to be done in one epic hike but can be walks fitted in at lunchtimes and at weekends. I had too much going on at the beginning of last year to even think about taking on something like this, but as a strong believer in the philosophy of 'better late than never', I'm going to challenge myself to do it this year.

For it to be a proper challenge, I need a few rules. Here are the ones I've come up with so far. I may need to adapt them or add to them as I go along.

1) I will include walks of 2 miles and above so long as it's a continuous walk and not 2 miles over the course of a whole day, in which I'm stopping and starting all the time. To monitor this I will set the time limit of 2 hours for a 2 mile walk. This may seem like a long time, but it will allow for walks in which I walk a mile to get to somewhere interesting, spend some time exploring and then walk a mile back. For walks over 6 miles I won't set a time limit so long as it is completed within the same day.

2) No bonus points for hills or tricky terrain. Clocking up the miles is the only thing that counts.

3) City walks can be included as long as they are proper walks such as circumambulating the city walls, taking part in a guided walk or following a themed trail (e.g. a Dickens' trail in London).Wandering round the shops does not count.
4) Pounding the treadmill in the gym doesn't count.

And, well, that's it really. Simple.

1000 miles shouldn't be difficult to achieve physically. My problems are usually with time, but having a goal to aim for will hopefully make me prioritise walking and give me some extra incentive.

Here are some maths:

1000 / 52  = 19.2 miles per week
1000 / 12 = 83.3 miles per month

On an average weekend I should be able to walk on at least one day. If I do a 10 mile walk that leaves another 9.2 miles to be walked during the week. I could try to walk 2 miles each day, or try two mid-week 5 mile walks. Of course there will be weeks when I can't do this, but as long as I achieve it most weeks, then the slack can be taken up on holidays when I'm more likely to walk every day.

I'll set up a spreadsheet to note down each walk and for extra incentive I'll include a countdown column.

I'm going to make a good start by kicking off the new year with a walk on New Year's Day. Better stop messing about on my computer and get those maps out and start plotting and planning.

You can find the link to the original challenge here.