This post isn’t about a New Year resolution [I don’t do these] but it is about my 2019 walking target. Friends would generally describe me as an active person but just over 12 months ago I realised I had no idea how far I walked in a year. So, at the beginning of 2019 I set myself a target of walking 2,019 km during 2019. I thought this wouldn’t be too demanding but really had no idea how it would pan out and as the year rolled on I became surprised how challenging it was to reach that mileage. Half way through the year I reported that I was over target, having walked 60.5 km more than 1,009.5 I needed to have walked at that point. Maybe I sat back a little in the second half of the year and perhaps moving house messed up my routine but it was touch and go whether I would reach 2,019 km before the end of 31 December 2019. But I got there and after some long winter walks actually walked 2,073 km in 2019!
I didn’t count walking around our home or nipping out to the shops as part of my 2,019 km, this was not a step counting exercise and distance was only counted when I had kitted up for a walk. It was okay if this was a utility walk such as to the supermarket or to an appointment, the important thing was that I had chosen to walk rather than cycle, take the bus or drive. My partner has joined me on most of these walks but hasn’t quite reached 2,019 km himself.
2,019 km averages out as around 5.5 km each day. Not a great distance but I found that to reach the target there was no chance to let up. Yes, there were days when I walked 20 km but there were other days when other activities got in the way and I didn’t walk anywhere at all. A couple of days like that and a long walk counted for little and I needed to catch up. There were a staggering 56 days when I didn’t go outside and put one foot in front of the other. In the first half of the year I had 30 none-walking days and 26 days in the second half as by December I was dashing out every day to ensure I reached the target! Of course, on some of these apparently inactive days i might have been to my tai chi class or more recently packing and unpacking boxes or gardening; but there were days when we were driving or I was writing at home and being fairly inactive. I know that I feel happier if I have got outside and taken some exercise and certainly if I am writing it is a break from staring at the laptop and it helps my brain to focus and come up with new ideas.
Most of the distance was either around Salford or, more recently, Morecambe but there were plenty of memorable days out in other places, here are a few highlights:
- Climbing Ben Nevis wasn’t my longest day of walking at 17 km but with all that altitude to climb it was the toughest day and the most emotional.
- Walking with friends is always special and provides me with good memories. We have had some fantastic walking days with other people in Wharfedale, the Lake District, Scotland and Anglesey in all sorts of weather from wet to almost hot!
- The coastal walking in Shetland was unbeatable and well organised and during our spring holiday there we clocked up 127.5 km on these stunning islands.
- Walking from Eastbourne to Beachy Head on a warm February day was an unforgettable experience and sitting on the cliffs as a peregrine falcon landed next to us was a bonus.
- We walked around Rivington Pike in Lancashire on a couple of occasions, both blue-sky winter days that were perfect.
- The two longest walks were both 21 km and were both summer walks but on both occasions there was more drizzle than sunshine! The first was around the green hilly land around Hexham in the north of England through lush dripping forests. The second was up and down the Derbyshire dales around Longnor on what I had sold to my partner as a pub crawl but turned out to be more of a walk between closed country pubs!
- On one pavement bashing day I wore through some shoe leather walking 18.5 km around Salford and Manchester, mostly to hand deliver a parcel someone had purchased on Ebay [they left very good feedback!]
- Dodd in the Lake District is only a small hill but on the January day we climbed it there was enough snow for a snowball fight!
- One of my favourite walks in Salford is around Salford Quays and Media City. Having recorded all my walks for the year I can see I did this on 28 different occasions between January to November 2019. Now we have moved my favourite walk is down to Morecambe Bay, a handy 6 km circuit.
What about 2020? As much as I have found it fascinating to keep a check on my mileage for the year I will not be setting a walking target again. As the year moved on it had started to feel a bit tiresome to keep working out distances I had walked and make a note and I won’t miss being free of that. I know there are good apps that will record distances but I don’t necessarily trust their accuracy, particularly in the mountains. Another reason for making this target a one-off is cycling. Our bikes have languished in the shed gathering dust for much of the year and we are looking forward to getting out and exploring the fantastic cycle routes around our new home in Morecambe now we don’t have to keep walking and walking and walking. My partner has threatened to set a demanding cycling target for 2020 but I think / hope he is joking!