This time 12 months ago I didn’t walk anywhere. As an open water swimmer I spent all of my time in the lakes, rivers and seas of Essex and the only time I would ever walk would be when I went up and down the side of the pool that I teach at.

When Lockdown 1 hit, I made a decision to change this. Walking has always been a bit of a challenge for me and there was a time when I couldn’t even walk around my house as I live with a condition called degenerative disc disease. This causes premature aging of the spinal discs which leads to sciatic pain and limited mobility. So when an opportunity presented itself to swap swimming for walking I set myself the challenge to walk every day throughout that first lockdown.

Very quickly what started as a 5km walk around the village I live in, led to much longer 10km daily walks so when my friend Kerry suggested I challenged myself to do a full marathon I said yes straight away. I completed my first lockdown walking marathon of 26.2 miles in May 2020, it took me 8 hours and 48 minutes and with the support of the Her Spirit community it was one of my greatest achievements.

So when Lockdown 2 came in November, I knew exactly what I would be doing to fill my time again. The wetsuit went in the cupboard and the trainers went back on my feet. Those 4 weeks got me hooked all over again on walking and I never stopped. By the time Lockdown 3 was announced I was still walking every day so decided that I was going to challenge myself to walk my second lockdown marathon. I mentioned this casually to the Her Spirit coaching team as a personal goal, but they all loved it so much that the Feet First February Challenge was born!

What followed in the next 4 weeks was nothing short of miraculous. I had already clocked up 295km since November but on the first day of Feb, I also decided to implement some diet changes with the help of fellow coach Jessie as I realised that if I was going to do this, I needed to fuel myself properly too. Within the first 2 weeks of the challenge I had walked 130km and lost half a stone in weight!

Week 3 was when it really became something special for me as this is when I did my first jog. As someone that was told they would never be able to jog again, I don’t mind admitting that I cried tears of joy as I realised that I was doing it! I jogged 5km that week, got two PB’s and felt the best I have in many years. Once again it was the Her Spirit community that I shared my new successes with first.

So when the day came to walk the marathon I was ready for it. I felt strong and I was excited to give it my all. I completed my second walking marathon in 8 hours and 8 minutes, a whopping 40 minutes faster than my first one and apart from two throbbing big toenails, I didn’t have a single ache or pain whilst doing it or recovering the day after. I have honestly never felt prouder of myself but I couldn’t have done it without Her Spirit, so from the bottom of my heart thank you to each and every person that encouraged me and cheered me on. You are all amazing and I am so proud to be part of Her Spirit.

What’s next you may ask……? Well, if someone wants to teach me how to ride a bike, I may just consider entering a triathlon! Watch this space.

 

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Author:
Vicky Malmsjo