365 days, 500 hours, 1882 miles, 3 pairs walking shoes.
Many people will remember 2020/21 for a long time to come, mainly because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our “normal” lives, it will be a period we will probably never forget. It will be a time remembered for panic buying of toilet rolls, cancelled celebrations and holidays, lock-down restrictions and sadly the illness or loss of friends and loved ones in a very concentrated period of time. Well for me and Ali, we can both look back on this time as a period when we both walked each and every day, without exception, for a whole year.
For me it sort of started by accident on St Patrick’s Day (Tuesday 17 March 2020). Our formal Nordic Walks had sadly been curtailed, so I decided to go out on my own that day and the next and the next, getting into a sort of regular routine. Together with the lack of NCNW walks, the golf courses had to close from 23 March 2020, so I decided I needed to carry on walking each day. Ali joined in a couple of days later and we started walking together at least twice each week and we walked separately on the other days. Ali was initially happy with about three miles a day, but I was starting to average over five miles a day.
When the golf courses opened up in the middle of May 2020, I started playing golf again, but I still picked up my poles each day and went out Nordic Walking, even if it was just for few kilometres.
I didn’t really have a goal in mind when I started, but when we got towards the end of June, I had reached 500 miles during an enjoyable Redesmere & Capesthorne walk with Hans & Jette and we were fast approaching 100 days of continuous Nordic Walking, so I was determined that we should reach that “milestone”. I reached the 100-day milestone on Wednesday 24 June 2020, when we enjoyed a lovely walk in the sunshine with Mark & Esther in the Alderley Edge area and afterwards, they kindly provided us with a small libation to celebrate.
The next milestone was 1,000 kilometres, which I reached when staying away alone during a trip to Lincoln. Then I started aiming for 1,000 miles, then the target was 200 days, then 250 days and 2,000km. I just kept moving the target and celebrating each of the small “milestone” achievements along the way. After 300 days and 1,500 miles, the next target had to be completing a year of daily walking.
Obviously, some days were more difficult than others and clearly getting dressed up to go out walking in the rain was at times quite unattractive, but there were thankfully very few really wet days. Studious use of the Met Office weather App, in conjunction with the ever-reliable RainToday App, meant we kept reasonably dry and to be honest we didn’t mind the rain, as long as the clothes we were wearing were actually waterproof! Ali also made good use of her umbrella when she wasn’t walking with me and didn’t have to take her poles. As a bit of an aside; I found that the only reliable weather App during this period was the Met Office App, as I believe many of the other Apps apparently rely on weather reports from passenger aircraft and there wasn’t very many flying. Also, the RainToday App is brilliant, if you just need to know the weather for the next hour or so, which most of the time was all we needed.
The most challenging days were when I had to do other things, like back-to-back Zoom meetings, during the day and found it difficult to get out. Particularly with the short days during many of the winter evenings, I had to go out with a torch and eventually invested in a loop of torches that wrap around your neck, illuminating the ground in front of you, keeping your hands free for your poles. The hardest day was when I had either been in the car or in a meeting from 8am to 6pm, then got home and managed a short 3km walk, before I had to join a Zoom wine-tasing event and finished off the evening with a further 2km on the treadmill at 11pm!
On the days I walked alone, I always listened to audiobooks, so I have devoured many novels over the last year, including all 25 of the Jack Reacher books by Lee Child, all 19 books written by LJ Ross and a few others along the way. It’s a good distraction and a great motivator, particularly when the story lines make you want to get out and walk! Ali also listened to many audiobooks, but she also listened to and read the pieces from “Year of Wonder: Classical music to enjoy day by day” by Clemency Burton-Hill, which comes highly recommended (thanks to Esther).
Clearly there were some memorable daily walks and some great walking companions during specific days; Bev even graced me with her presence one day, for a road walk around Rostherne. We walked Redesmere & Capesthorne more times than I can remember and the same is true of the walk from Vale Royal Abbey – which became our favourites, mainly because they are flat, so Ali likes them, but they are great and varied walks. During lockdown we couldn’t venture too far from home and as a consequence there probably aren’t too many square meters of Tatton Park that I haven’t walked on during the last year. However, we did manage one trip away to the Lakes and had an enjoyable three days of walking with Mark & Esther based, at Holbeck Ghyll at the end of September. I also managed to escape up to Turnberry in September for a few good “walks” around the best golf courses in the world, in my humble opinion, where we walked up to 20km per day.
I reached the 365 continuous days of walking milestone on Tuesday 16 March 2021 in Tatton Park, when enjoying a (two-by-two) walk with Chris and Tracey Pacey (plus Hobbs) and we celebrated with a bottle of fizz. Ali reached the same milestone on Thursday 18 March 2021, again quite fittingly, in Tatton Park, but on this occasion, we celebrated with coffee and a cake!
So, in summary, a few statistics from my 365 days:
I walked more than 3,031 kilometres (1,882 miles), which is equivalent to the distance from Knutsford to Madrid or Iceland and back or from Knutsford to the Canary Islands or Ankara in Turkey as a one way walk.
Shortest daily walking: 2.39 kilometres (1.48 miles) – whilst away testing cars in Lincoln
Longest daily walking: 15.94 kilometres (9.90 miles) – whilst away in the Lakes
Average daily walking: 8.31 kilometres (5.16 miles)
About 500 hours walking (equivalent to 20 x 24 hours days) during the year.
Three pairs of Inov-8 Roclite walking shoes worn out and binned.
Countless paws replace on our Nordic Walking Poles.
A year of daily walking, we will never forget!
Steve Graham March 2021