Scanning Twitter at the start of 2017 I came across Country Walking magazine’s #walk1000miles challenge. With nothing to loose and all to gain, judging from 2016 completer’s feedback, I decided to accept the challenge. All I had to do to complete 1,000 miles in one calendar year was to walk 2.74 miles per day every day for 365 days. This certainly made it easier to assimilate the task ahead and with this in the back of my mind it was a case of chipping away at the target distance at regular intervals hopefully on a daily basis.
There were a few hiccups on the way but I stuck with it and was delighted when I reached the 1,000 mile target two-thirds of the way through the year on 22nd August. On the last day in December my total distance achieved for 2017 was 1,253.3 miles. Amazingly converting this into kilometres equates to 2,017 km!
Early in the year due to dark nights and muddy field paths I concentrated on short walks and with one of these I devised I was able to do during my lunch hour. When both the weather and terrain conditions improved from Spring I completed longer walks during weekends and continued whenever possible with the lunchtime walks. Having achieved the target distance before the end of August there was a loss of focus in September. However, with two challenge walks organised in November, on the 11th the Seagrave Wolds 16 miles Challenge and on the 26th an 18 miles walk I was leading for the Long Distance Walkers’ Association’s Anytime Anywhere Group, there was a renewed energy from the start of October. This refocusing enabled more miles to be added and ensured I completed both events.
Fitness wise the first few months was a steady progress as the majority of walks were short distances to accommodate either the limited timeframe of my lunch hour or available day light. However, this gradual fitness progression was beneficial as it laid the foundations for the successful completion of longer walks undertaken from the Spring. In particular April was an amazing month as I achieved 210 miles and successfully completed the 29 miles Erewash Valley Trail in ten hours.
Whilst I enjoyed writing about each walk after completion I found manually adding distances and time after each activity a bit of a bind. In late January I suddenly realised I had a Suunto Movescount account and decided to use this to record distances and times as it updated these automatically after I provided the details. Movescount even works out the overall km/h for each walk and gives information on the distance completed for each month as well as providing a neat way of displaying information. The latter was beneficial for providing updates of my progress on social media.
Just under 190 miles, 188.77 to be precise, were from urban walks on wholly surfaced paths which mainly came from my lunchtime work walk. I did this walk over 50 times but I never got bored with this route and it was only a change of work venue from September that prevented me doing more. Incidentally this walk went through two green ‘lungs’ of a city which included a wonderful Arboretum.
The remaining 1,000 plus miles were from walks located in the countryside and mainly ones that I was able to start and finish from my front door. For these I had planned a variety of routes that I repeated on regular intervals but this enabled me to become intimately engaged with each walk. Having a series of routes fixed in one’s mind frees one to think, discover and explore. This empowered me to notice subtle changes occurring within nature throughout the year and with farming through the seasons. From mid April I decided to undertake night hikes and I was surprised how walking through twilight and darkness enhanced my awareness and brought me closer to the landscape.
In summary taking up Country Walking magazine’s #walk1000miles challenge in 2017 has been an extremely positive experience in many ways. Improvements in fitness is the first area that comes to mind but I also feel healthier. In addition it has enabled me to be more resilient to changes at work and the challenge has resulted in vast improvements in my mental well-being. In 2018 I am taking up the #walk1000miles challenge again to continue trying to walk every day but hoping to include mountain walks and perhaps thru-hike the Pennine Way.