CASE STUDY: SARAH

“I see time itself in a different way”

Sarah says she feels fitter, healthier and has lost weight, since taking on the challenge and that's not all: "I'm  more mindful of the here and now – it lifts my spirits and helps me clear my mind of anything stressing me."

How old are you, what do you do and where are you from?

I'm 47 and a Payroll Admin Assistant for Leicestershire Police from Enderby in Leicester.

How did you get into walking and the challenge?

I've always walked the short distance to and from work and gone out at lunchtime for some fresh air, but I spotted the 1000 mile challenge at the tail end of last year in your magazine and wondered if it was possible, could I do that? After sadly losing a friend at Christmas whilst in the amazing hospice LOROS and reaching my first year anniversary volunteering at a local Rescue Centre Leicester Animal Aid I wanted to raise funds for both and decided to link it with the 1000 mile challenge.

How much more walking are you doing than before?

For about the last 25 years I have lived about a mile from my place of work but as part of this challenge I'm not actually counting this towards my total for the three days I currently work. At a rough calculation I'm doing an average of 80-85 miles a month extra to what I would normally do. Wow another surprise for me!

How would you say walking helped you get over the death of your friend?

My solo walks are definitely a time I think about her a lot and gives me the peace with no distractions to do that. I have actually cried whilst walking sometimes which sounds sad but has actually been quite therapeutic. If I have a spare hour for a local walk I usually find myself making a visit to the cemetery which makes it feel like she's part of my challenge and I marked my 450 milestone here. If I'm struggling with motivation her voice is the one in my head telling me to get up, get out there and get on with it!  

How has walking more affected other relationships?

I have always been close to my Dad and he only lives 30 minute walk from me (previously that would read 10 min drive!). I remember him taking my brother and I to Bradgate Park as kids and for a short time we both worked at Alliance & Leicester HQ and met at lunchtime for a walk around the grounds. At Christmas time he developed chest pains and after a doctor's visit he ended up having a quadruple bypass in February. He was determined to get back to his active life and we went for small walks together as he built up his fitness using my mileage count and speed as a guide to his improvement.

With my brother James we were close as kids but you inevitable grow apart as you get older and your lives alter as you don't have as much time together as you did before. James took note that I had taken on a walking challenge and saw my posts on Facebook. Unknown to me he was in fact walking everyday before work and then getting up early at weekends to go off on his own locally. A text one weekend said 'fancy a walk round my way?' and we haven't looked back. He loves the fact he has someone who can keep up with him and is willing to be ready to go at 7am! It's definitely made us closer, I see a lot more of him, we talk constantly, he's willing to go for a good long walk, I've got him walking in new areas to him and we've discovered new ones together and we always finish at a cafe for a sausage sarnie!

It's great that I have someone who has equal capabilities to me as a change to just walking on my own and it's an added bonus that it happens to be my brother.

What did you expect to gain from the challenge and in what ways has it over-delivered?

I expected it to improve my fitness and health, maybe losing a bit of weight in the process. I didn't expect it to have also improved my posture and to be so eager to get out so often because it's making me feel so good. Instead of sat over a cuppa chatting I've also had a few friends suggesting going out for a walk with me as a way of catching up. 

I am much more mindful of the here and now and it lifts my spirits and helps me clear my mind of anything stressing me. It's made me see time itself differently.

I'll give you example from last week. It was 10.10am I needed to go to a shop 10-15 mins drive away and had to be home by 11.25am at the latest. I would have previously jumped in the car as I would have decided I didn't have time to do anything else. I worked out it would take me about 30 mins to walk each way and if I was quick in the shop and didn't mess about I could be home in time, so on went my walking shoes. And keeping one eye on the watch I actually extended my walk slightly on the way home and got back for 11.20am.