Thursday, 26 April 2018

How to get your hike on (an absolute beginner's guide)

I hate exercise. I hate exercising. But I also hate that I have put on weight steadily since turning 40. I'm not sure if it's (late) middle age spread, the sofa and Netflix or generally just that long gone are the days of being an easy size 8 and being able to eat what I want and do absolutely nothing.

I'm not a strong swimmer, I don't know how to use gym equipment and I spend the whole hour looking at the clock in any exercise class. So what could I do to get fit, get out of my mental funk and lose weight? Hiking, that's what!

Hiking/walking is the exercise that anyone and I can do. Although that said I've never been much of a walker, and would often go to the effort of driving my car from one end of a car park to the other of my local large supermarket, just so I didn't have to walk!

And it took one of my sisters talking me, and a group of lovely ladies, in to signing up for a Cancer Research UK hike. I'd heard about people doing charity hikes last year and it had peaked my interest because here was something, with training, that I reckon I could do.

And so since January, nearly every Saturday morning I've been out hiking. Granted you don't need to start a training plan for the CRUK hike until 12 or 4 weeks before your chosen event but I wanted to start it as soon as possible because frankly whilst I was very keen, I wasn't sure if I could do it.

I've been going for walks once a week since January and will now start building this up to 3 times a week. I do the longer walk at the weekend when I've got more time and can come home to a bacon sandwich. I aim to do a couple of 3 mile/1 hour walks in the week.

I started off with a 3 mile walk and every weekend I've built on this, increasing by 2-3 miles each week. The longest walk to date I've done is 14 miles but it was a flat, although gentle inclined walk. We also mix in a few shorter but more undulating walks, and this is because our CRUK hike is 20.5 miles along the Jurassic Coast, which is classed as a difficult hike.
For me the most important thing is just to get outside and enjoy the fresh air, even when it's icy cold and wet fresh air.

I use Map my Hike to track the distance and keep a log of all my walks so I can see how my pace is improving.
For walking routes, I really like ifootpath - depending on where you want to walk, there are a few to lots of guided walks which work even when you've got no signal. There are written instructions but I prefer to use the map once I know what direction I'm going in. The only thing I would say is I wish there were more longer walks on this app as the majority are between 4-6 miles but that is just because we are training for this long hike.
I've also downloaded Viewranger, which has lots of longer walks on it but as yet I can't really figure out how to use it.
When I get a new hobby, I am the epitome of "all the gear, no idea". And hiking is no exception, although I've not spent much on each item and have got some real bargains. Although to be fair I wish I had spent more on my boots as I didn't realise then that I would enjoy walking so much.
In my kit I have:

  • walking boots or shoes. It's personal choice on boots or shoes but because I like my ankles to be supported and for our walk, boots are better, that's what I went for. I ended up getting kids ones because a size 4 in adults was too big for me. I got my boots from Mountain Warehouse.
  • waterproof, lightweight jacket (blue one from TK Maxx)
  • quilted, lightweight jacket for extra warmth (not pictured but from Asda)
  • backpack (TK Maxx)
  • walking socks. I really rate the walking socks that Aldi did when they had a hiking special in the middle isle of fun. These socks have extra padding where you need them, do not fall down, stay up and keep your feet warm. I've bought much more expensive socks from outdoor shops and they are not as good as the Aldi ones.
  • insoles. After a few weeks of walking I developed a really painful top of my foot, to the point where I had to get an emergency GP appointment. The Dr suggested I go to a podiatrist and get special insoles. I couldn't get an appointment but picked up runner's insoles at Lidl and they have completely solved the problem.
  • walking poles. I only have one as find 2 a pain and using a pole, particularly on hilly walks has really helped me, not just for the support to my hips but to steady me when the ground is slippery. I will get a second pole for the CRUK hike.
  • bottoms. Depending on the weather, I will mostly wear normal gym leggings and recently bought some walking trousers from Lidl and they are great for when you want to wear something a bit loser around the leg.
  • tops. I wear a gym dri-fit top, and layers depending on the temperature.
  • snacks. Always take water, a small flask of tea in the colder weather for a half way or end of walk treat. Protein bars - these have initially been hit and miss for me, some are like eating very dry cardboard, with a layer of sandpaper. I now enjoy Nature Valley ones.
Hiking is the only exercise I have ever really enjoyed, it's so simple, there's no complicated equipment and you really do get to discover areas that you have never been to or appreciated. I'm lucky to live close to The Ridgeway but had never walked it. It is beautiful but took this new passion for me to discover it.

If you fancy getting out and would like the challenge and motivation of doing a CRUK charity hike (there are lots of different hikes in different areas of the UK to choose from) or one of the many CRUK Race 4 Life events, I've got a code which if you use to register by Monday 30 April, you won't pay a registration fee. And what better charity than Cancer Research UK.

The code to use at Race for Life is PINKTIX1
And if you needed any motivation to get outside, here's some..



1 comment

  1. Thanks for mentioning iFootpath. You can find out more about the App and view all of our 1,200 walks at We add new walks every week.


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