Having watched so many people take part in Dr. Ciara Kelly’s 100 Days of Walking challenge in 2019, it seemed like such a wonderful community to be part of. I promised myself that I would join in this year. I work from home and while I go to fitness classes, I sit at my desk for large portions of the day. I really wanted to build a daily habit of walking to counteract that.

Two things you might not know about me:

  1. I’m very visual
  2. I’m very organised

So I started the challenge in the way that I knew would work for me – with a chart to track my progress! I wanted something that was fun and motivating, so I whipped out my Sharpies and drew a chart. That chart served as my accountability partner for the duration of the challenge 🙂 .

Getting started

My 100 Days of Walking began with a sunrise hike up Slieve Foye on the 1st of January. It was an early start and it was so worth it!! The sky was pink and absolutely stunning. Myself and a small group of friends were the only ones on the mountain and there were bear hugs all around when we got to the top. It was a really special way to kick off 2020 and 100 Days of Walking.

100 Days of Walking

Day 1: Watching the sunrise from Slieve Foye

I wish I could say that every day was as romantic and magical as the first, but I can’t. Although I did some beautiful hikes throughout the challenge, it was really about building the habit of walking regularly around my local area.

I began to feel the benefits of daily walking almost immediately. I was more energised, more productive and generally happier. I was still attending fitness classes but my daily walk allowed me to breathe more deeply at a slower pace and see the things I’m normally too busy to see. The #100DaysOfWalking community on Twitter are the most positive group of people and I got to see so many beautiful parts of Ireland through their eyes too.

The first hurdle

Day 25 was the quarter-way mark and it was also the first time that I really struggled with getting out to walk. I’d had a tough day and just wanted to flake out on the sofa. But the power of being part of the 100 Days of Walking community kicked in. I begrudgingly put on my runners and off I went. As I walked, I noticed that my mood began to lift and I felt so much better by the time I got home. I realised that the days we feel least motivated to walk are the days when we benefit the most from it.

Day 25: The first hurdle.

February showers

February arrived and with it came Storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge in quick succession. Met Eireann reported record rainfall and wind speeds for the month. I’ll be honest – there were days when it was really tempting to stay at home by the fire, but the power of community, public accountability and the chart (!) came into force and off I went walking in the elements. It’s funny though, walking in the rain with puddles sloshing around my runners brought me back to my childhood and I began to enjoy those walks much more than I expected to.

Day 60: Those February showers!

Social distancing – the new norm

Enter March, and suddenly we were faced with an even bigger storm – Covid-19. A virus that had initially seemed to be a world away was suddenly on our doorstep. Social distancing became the new norm and, along with a lot of businesses, the gym temporarily closed. This made me develop an even deeper appreciation for my daily walks, which have kept me sane, if I’m honest! Even with the current restrictions, we are still able to get out walking every day. In fact, walking fits in perfectly with the 2km from home limit and staying closer to home has made me appreciate all of the beauty and history we have right on our doorstep.

Day 82: Social distancing in the Mournes – our last hike before the lockdown!

A handful of walks later, we have arrived at Day 100. We made it. With all of the madness of the past few months, we made it! A huge congratulations to all of my #100DaysOfWalking pals and to Dr. Ciara Kelly for starting it all. Thank you all for the laughter and friendly banter over the past few months. It did my heart good.

Day 100: 100 (and one!) imperfect smiles later.

What I’ve learned from 100 Days of Walking:

  • Walking is good for the soul. It has made me more mindful of the beauty that surrounds me.
  • The days I feel like walking the least are the days it benefits me the most.
  • Never underestimate the power of fresh air and movement.
  • Positivity has a ripple effect. I was contacted by a lady who thanked me for bringing positivity to her social media feed with my daily posts. How cool is that??
  • Communities are powerful. Choose the ones that raise you up and cheer you on.
  • When your walking buddies are down, walk for them. A little kindness costs nothing.
  • I will probably never master the art of drawing the perfect smiley face and that’s ok 😉