One thing I love is walking and not just because I can’t drive. I did try and learn, but I went through two instructors and six tests before realising that I was putting myself under all this pressure and not actually getting any pleasure out of it.
So, I continue to get around on foot, by public transport, and convincing friends and family that they like me enough to give me lifts. It often works as well.
I enjoy walking most of all, because it lets me see the world unfettered by speed and a fixed route. I can use all the short-cuts and discover new areas even now, despite having lived in Thanet for all of my 36 years.
When I started doing walking marathons, I used to occasionally get asked when I was going to “move on to” running marathons; the assumption clearly being that one was merely a warm-up for the other, which is complete tosh of course. My friend Chelby runs – she knows that I have absolutely no desire in joining her – and I doubt very much she’d want to join me on a walking marathon either. We each keep fit with our respective styles and each is as valid as the other.
My buddy Di and I have done a number of walking marathons together, but she’s now cleared off to live with her family in Bournemouth (good for her – an exciting new chapter awaits), I have made A Decision. I plan to do a walking marathon entirely by myself, in September this year, and then have a break for a while due to other plans coming to the fore.
I was nervous back when I did my very first marathon with Di and our other pal Lorraine, because I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to complete it. I was far heavier than I am now and hadn’t practised (I thought) as much as I should. But we did it and caught the bug – Di and I have done quite a few over the subsequent years – and always practised obsessively; from once or twice a week up to four times a week as we got close to the date.
I’m about four months away from the Shine Marathon, which I always enjoy, and because I’m so familiar with it, it’s the one I’ve decided to do by myself. I feel comfortable in the environment, know where I’m going and the atmosphere is always brilliant. But, of course, I’ll miss the company of having a fellow walker and friend with me every step of the way.
I have to force myself to get over that and start practising in earnest – it’s never too early and I want to make sure I’m properly fit for the marathon. At least one weekend morning is now spent going for walks around Thanet at a decent pace; whilst I miss the company, I get a chance to catch up on some podcasts, which is a bonus (there’s a history one I’m particularly taken with right now).
I’m always open to learning more routes, so if anyone has anyone to recommend, do share them with me – and if anyone wants to join me for the occasional walk, and perhaps help inspire me for my next column, I’ll always welcome you along.