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Meet the Walkers: Sharon

Our Meet the Walkers blog series is back! We asked walkers who have taken part in the Step Count Challenge why they decided to take part and what walking means to them.

Published: 03/07/2020

Ultra-runner and team Hairy Hikers member Sharon tells us how slowing the pace for a daily walk has helped her to recharge her batteries as well as add to her team's step tally. 

So when I was asked me to write a few short words on the Step Count Challenge and how it had motivated me and the benefits it brought, I quickly replied I didn’t do anything different from normal. As an ultra-runner I usually do high mileage most weeks so did not see it as much of a challenge initially, but was glad to be part of a team with four other ladies, who are good friends more than work colleagues. But then I thought about it! I did change my normal training schedule. The daily steps were not my motivator, getting them in for the team was.

As I said, I started off the challenge not thinking about steps, who was doing what and where our team placed on the leaderboard. I was confident that with my weekly mileage of 80 to 100 miles of running I would be a welcome addition to anybody’s team. Then after about a week I had a wee look!!! Jeez we were at the top of the leaderboard. Excellent. Now into the team. Jeez, I was trailing in last place. Time to get my finger out and respect the team I was in. The Fabulous Furloughed were knocking it out the park with the steps they were clocking up and the awesome Active Lifestyle girls were raking the steps in at all hours of the day. Time for me to do my bit.

Work had been full on, writing Risk Assessments and Operating Procedures for our re-opening strategies. My ‘new’ normal routine was a morning run before firing up the laptop as working from home. Instead of getting about a bit around my facilities as I normally would I was sitting a lot more than I ever did. Only adventuring out from my office (dining room) to the kitchen and bathroom. And I could feel the toll it was taking with my back and hips feeling more stiff than normal. So about 5pm I was doing a fitness session, either online or a just throwing a few weights around to help hit the reset button from the working day. 

So I decided I would replace my afternoon fitness session with a good hike for the duration of the challenge. I knew I would not get the endorphin rush of a HIIT session or the burn from weights, which I love, but I got more from hiking than I thought. My brain was busy all day with work and in a situation where I did not have the answers, no one did. The more I learned the more questions I had and there was no off the shelf manual or working group to turn to. I discovered the slower pace of the hike hit the reset button better than any fitness session I had done. My brain would gradually slow and so often I came up with a solution or a resolve. I had clarity. I found answers. On other days I would be plugged into my music singing modern day country having a party for one.  Whichever it was, I always returned home feeling recharged both physically and mentally. This challenge also reinforced something I already knew, the strength and pride of being in a team. 

So now the challenge is over, will I revert back to the ‘new’ normal? I have got back to doing more fitness classes but the hiking is here to stay. I may not be a hairy hiker anymore, but I will be a happy hiker for a long time to come.