2018-veteran Joy Conway posted this great advice for new challengers in the Facebook group, and it was so good we wanted to share! Said Joy….
For all the newbies!
This time last year I joined this group and vowed to walk 1000 miles in 2018. I thought I would just write down a few tips and hints for all the new people joining this year. In particular this is for all of the new people who are perhaps over 40 and not regular exercisers 😉.
I’m in my fifties and started as a countermeasure to a very demanding career. I was the very definition of sedentary. Long hours in front of a computer and then collapse on the sofa in the evening. I was convinced I was still the fit thirty year old that took on mountain treks without prep. I am not....
I am also a physiotherapist by background (although I have been in medical research for a long time now so not actually useful).
So here are my tips for coping with this challenge:
Every step you take will lead you to healthy you. Don't be obsessed with exact mileage and how much others are doing. There are loads of uber fit people on this site and it can be a bit depressing when you feel you are falling behind. DO NOT ALLOW THIS!! Whatever you achieve over the year will be your own personal achievement. Stay focussed on you and taking the next step.
This challenge has helped me enormously. I am fitter both physically and mentally as a result. I love my daily walks and it has helped me though a year of change and challenges.
2. ACHES AND PAINS
You may well discover joint issues as a result of walking every day. I did. DO NOT GIVE UP. Frankly if you are sedentary like I was and in your fifties or older then you are very likely to uncover ankle/knee/hip/back issues. Get thee to a good chartered physio. I did. I had problems with my left knee that left me hobbling for weeks. A full assessment of my biomechanics and gait (you can get this done for free at several high street runners shoe suppliers) discovered pronation which stressed my knee.
Also some simple strengthening exercises for hips and legs helped enormously. Highly recommend.
I had to set rest days too and that is a great recommendation to help the first couple of months if you are starting from scratch or nursing an injury.
I had to take a back seat for 2 months so focussed instead on just getting to a place where I could take the challenge this year. It can help if you just concentrate on a 500 mile challenge too. Set your own goals.
Remember everything you do to move in the right direction is healthier than sitting on a sofa.
I love a bit of kit – all the gear no idea me. So what truly helped over the past year? Biggest surprise was footwear. For me and my biomechanics the best footwear were anti pronation trainers. I walk in woods and on moors and they are great. Again - the choice is highly individual. See point 2 for gait assessment recommendations. If I get to the point where I want it climb a mountain I will need insoles in appropriate boots but for now I'm happy. This is the bit you should spend money on. If you don't have the right footwear the rest is redundant.
The OS Maps app is excellent! Highly recommend. I have discovered SO many new places to walk within 30-40 mins of where I live. With the app I dive off into woodland knowing I can navigate my way back. I take photos of the truly beautiful scenery to remind of the seasons and paths/views.
Trousers: marks and sparks cotton joggers/yoga pants are my staple. Cheap, tuckable and washable. No fitting or waistband/rise issues. Cover with a waterproof outer layer, line with tights etc. Tops: really anything will do, don't waste your money on expensive tops. T shirt as a base layer works for me.Jacket: a good jacket is a must. Waterproof and capable of taking some layers when cold. Does not have to be expensive and charity shops sometimes score here.
4. A COMPANION
A dog! I re-homed a spaniel last summer and he has been my walking companion. Love him. BUT you can also act as a dog walker. Most dog owners who work need this and you can develop a great relationship with the dog. I know some who now walk dogs regularly as a side line. (Obvs I am not advocating getting a dog just for this challenge.)
Or another human: chatting will make the miles seem easy.
5. RECORD YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS
For me that equals photography. I use my phone to video and photograph my 'journey'. It is great to look back at where you have come from.
6 JUST GET OUT THERE.
Don't hesitate, just walk. You will not regret it.
Hope that helps