Fitness Challenge 2019: April/May

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April 

Goals

1. Aim to walk 100 to 125 miles

2. Do something active every day for 5 minutes

3. Set aside 15 minutes 3 days a week for yoga

4. Buy trainers for exercise class

5. Go to at least 4 exercise classes

So far each month I have set myself targets but there was no concrete goal until Simon and I planned to do the Cuckoo Way, along the Chesterfield Canal, in May (46 miles in two days) and my friend Caroline and I opted to walk the Preston Guild Wheel at the start of June (21 miles in 2 days, a little easier!)

Would this make me more motivated?

I walked a total of 103.7 miles this month, beating my lower target of 100 miles – the first time I have done it this year!

Walking to work and during lunchtimes (3 miles in total), walking the family  dogs, walking to the leisure centre and counting Zumba steps, walking into the city centre, a Wicklow Mountain walk in Ireland, a walk to my local Woodland Trust Wood, Mason’s Wood, pictured below (3 to 4 miles), walk to my local shop (1 mile)… Most of these were short but they were more frequent than before. And I think my planned Chesterfield Canal walk spurred me on to do more.

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The doing something active for 5 minutes was successful. Either walking to work, walking the dogs, walking up and down stairs 10 or 20 times… For the most part, I did something.

The yoga, once again, was on and off. There were mornings when I did the Tree and Sun Salutation but I confess there were many more when I didn’t do anything.

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Despite having the time (it was only 15 minutes), I kept putting it off until it was completely forgotten.

Well, I did buy trainers for exercise classes so that was one thing done. Not the best pair but they will do for now.

I went to Zumba at my local leisure centre twice. It was the first time I’ve been back to Zumba after a long break of about 6 months. When I first went it was incredibly popular as it was the ‘big craze’ but now I don’t need to book first thing to get a place. In fact, the second time a friend and I just turned up and there were plenty of places available.

It’s essentially a dance class but without any complicated techniques. The instructor shows the dance moves and you just follow. If you get it wrong – and I often do! – it doesn’t matter! It’s just fun.

Pleasantly, I found that having my pedometer while doing Zumba meant my steps increased a great deal.

Notable Walks

Wicklow Mountains

I visited Ireland for a few days in April and we went on a trip to the beautiful Wicklow Mountains on the Saturday. Leaving the car in the car park, we made the silly mistake of not taking any water with us. I didn’t realise how long we would be walking for. There were four of us and the pace was much faster than I was used to. The decision not to take water was a poor one for me and I felt dehydrated, tired and weak once we started going uphill.

It is times like this that makes me realise how far I still have to go with my journey to become fitter.

103.7 miles

May

Goals 

1. Aim to walk 100 to 125 miles.

2. Complete the Cuckoo Way along the Chesterfield Canal.

I started May with only two targets, wanting to focus on the canal walk.

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I have written a separate post about the canal walk (not published yet), which took place Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 5. Suffice to say, it is the hardest canal walk I have ever done. We started at West Stockwith in Nottinghamshire and ended at Killamarsh, Derbyshire. 26 miles on the first day (!) and 12 miles on the second. Beautiful scenery and fascinating history but it did feel hard on my feet and legs, despite being on the flat. My legs were still sore three days later!

The next Notable Walk was BowFell, a Wainwright Fell in the Lake District. Again, there will be a separate post about this. Although I have been up BowFell once before, about seven years ago (how time flies!), it didn’t strike me as an incredibly difficult climb. But the walk on Saturday, May 25, was hard. We forgot the proper map so only had a less detailed one and I had difficulty with the steepness of the steps up the hill. And then, on the way down, the weather took a turn for the worst and we got lost.

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Normally I can laugh at these memorable walks in retrospect but after the Wicklow Mountains hike and this one, I now had doubts about my fitness ability. What is the point of going up a mountain if it feels too strenuous? And yet, it was something I wanted to keep doing for the scenery, the sense of achievement, the feeling of exploring somewhere new…

So I did something I never thought I would ever do again.

I joined a gym. (Just to be clear, that picture below is not me!)

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It is situated 10 minutes away from my work and 15 minutes away from my house.

And that’s walking distance.

There was no getting away from the place.

It tried to tempt me with vouchers in my workplace – ‘try me for free’.  And when I did the maths, it worked out at £5 a week. Okay, there was no swimming pool but there were various fitness classes included and the location was spot on. 

So I took my voucher, tried it one Saturday and joined.

There is also a selection of fitness classes here so I am hopeful I won’t lose motivation.

And because of the location, it is always there to remind me of my aim to get fit. There is no ‘out of sight, out of mind’ here!

And yes, I beat my 100 mile target this month!

May: 100.2 miles

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Fitness Challenge 2019: February/March

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February

1. Aim to walk 100 miles

2. Do something active every day

3. Set aside 15 minutes 5 days a week for yoga

4. Start planning at least one long-distance hike this year

5. Buy trainers for exercise classes

Since the start of 2019, I’ve set myself monthly goals to get fit. So in February, I set out the above goals. Did I succeed? Umm, no. I didn’t get the trainers, I kept procrastinating about planning the hike, I forgot about the yoga. Even the simple ‘do something active every day’ was sometimes forgotten about. What I have learnt though is that when I get distracted in my life – for good and bad reasons – the fitness regime gets forgotten about and left to one side.

On the positive side, although I did not reach 100 miles (coat-on, I’m sure I would have exceeded it had I counted every step I did), I reached 88 miles, nearly 100 and better than January’s 74 miles.

Notable Walks

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Pictured: A scene from the Muker walk

River Swale walk, Richmond (6 miles or thereabouts)

Muker to Tan Hill Inn and back (17 miles on my pedometer!)

Walk to Brockholes Nature Reserve (11 miles)

Walk into Preston city centre (8 miles)

88 miles. Running total: 162 miles (I’m also aiming to walk 1,000 miles by the end of 2019).

March

I had the same goals as last month but it gets worse instead of better! (Now you see why I didn’t update this post earlier!) I walked a grand total of 58.1 miles, just over half of my target. Nowhere near good enough.

58.1 miles. Running total: 220.1 miles

Notable walks:

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Pictured: A view from the Sherwood Forest woodland walk

Sherwood Forest woodland walk (7.4 miles)

Ainsdale Sand Dunes (6-7 miles or thereabouts)

The one goal I did achieve in March was to plan at least one long-distance hike this year.

So in May, Simon and I are planning to walk the entire Cuckoo Way/Chesterfield Canal – 46 miles – in two days! The 240-year-old canal traverses Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire.

In June, my friend Caroline and I are planning to walk Preston’s Guild Wheel. It will be 21 miles in 2 days and encircles the city of Preston.

Perhaps the Guild Wheel should have come first on the fitness schedule?! ☺️

So, as you can see, now I really do have to get a reasonable level of fitness.

So for April, I have the similar targets to before but as there is a goal I have made it harder. Will the proposed weekend hikes focus my mind? Let’s see…

1. Aim to walk 100 to 125 miles

2. Do something active every day for 5 minutes

3. Set aside 15 minutes 3 days a week for yoga (I’ve tried to make this more achievable by aiming for 3 rather than 5 days)

4. Buy trainers for exercise class 

5. Go to at least 4 exercise classes in April

 

 

Fitness Challenge 2019: January round-up

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So for my new year’s resolution to get fit (the same resolution I’ve had for the last 10 years!), I decided to break it down into monthly chunks, each month would have at least one challenge.

January was Red January and is an initiative organised by mental health charity Mind. Red originally stood for Run Every Day but I prefer Random Exercise Every Day, a phrase I spotted on the internet!

My second challenge for this month was to reach 100 miles by walking. This is to contribute to my overall 1,000 mile target by the end of the year.

Challenge 1: Walking 100 Miles

By the end of January, I had walked 74 miles, not what I aimed for but still more than what I would usually do in the month of January. This was what I would call coat-on walking. Coat-on for me means every mile is counted outside, via a pedometer. However, as it’s January, it’s cold and dark and I was aware of how easy it was for me to find an excuse not to go on a proper country ramble.

But I still:

Frequently walked to work and back (1 mile. I sometimes drive as it’s on my way to other places I go to after work).

Frequently went for a walk at lunchtime (2 miles)

Walked the family dogs (Various, 1 mile to 5 miles)

On two days out with friends/Simon, we ambled around the cities of Lancaster/Chester (about 3/4miles)

One canal walk with Dad (2 miles)

One walk into city centre and back (7 miles)

Nothing spectacular but it all adds up.

Challenge 2: Red January

This challenge was primarily for me to get into the habit of becoming more active. I included any additional walking in this but there were days because of snow, a headache, a stomachache or perceived time restraints when it wasn’t as easy to venture out. So I lifted two dumbells and did 100 arm curls on those ‘lazier’ days. It won’t get me fit or strong but it still keeps me thinking along the lines of ‘doing something every day’ and only takes a couple of minutes.

Red January aims to help people’s mental health as well as physical health and raise awareness of the charity Mind (https://www.mind.org.uk/)

(Exercise is believed to be good for mental wellbeing).

So overall, a mixed month. I don’t feel particularly pleased but I don’t think I’ve let myself down too badly. It is only the first month after all!

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February

So my next set of challenges for February is:

1. Aim to walk 100 miles again. I failed this month but maybe I might do better in February?

2. Continue to do something active everyday – even squats or arm curls if nothing else.

3. Aim to set aside 15 minutes five days a week for yoga.

4. Start planning at least one long-distance hike this year.

5. Buy trainers for exercise classes.

I will see if February is a more successful month! 🙂