I know how easy it is to want to be a pro at everything the moment you start out, but unfortunately we all have to start at the beginning. So with that in mind, I decided to create a Beginners Guide to getting walking.
Before we start;
- No, you don’t have to buy expensive kit.
- No, you don’t have to travel miles and miles.
- No, you don’t need to read every piece of information before getting out there.
- No, you don’t have to walk half the way around the world.
OK so that is the no’s out-of-the-way, now for the yes;
- Yes, you do need some enthusiasm.
- Yes, you do need to be patient with yourself – we all start somewhere! Even the best climbers, hill runners and even long distance walkers started with a stroll.
- Yes, you need to keep your comparison-itis under control – everyone is at a different stage in their walking journey.
- Yes, you can start right now, with whatever kit you have wherever you are in the world.
Now that is sorted, we can start with the guide.
…and this is from my experience too! The common misconception is that you need specialist kit, skills and information to get started in walking. That goes for both walking for fitness and also for learning how to hike. It is simply not true and as you can see from the pictures and journeys in my blog, I often go out for a walk with just my regular gear on.
My thinking is that you really can get started where you are with what you have already. Of course you need to make sure that you are comfortable and dry, but I’m sure you have something that you can use – even a brolly at this stage will help you out!
So let go of the thoughts of wanting to get everything perfect before starting out and just get back to basics. Look, most people who walk do so in their usual clothes. (only later, once you get into it, might you find that ‘normal’ clothes change a bit)
Start out Easy
The bus stop one
Rather than trying to head out on a 15 mile hike, start right where you are. I know it has become a bit of a cliche but getting off the bus one stop earlier really is a great way to start gauging your fitness levels. If you find one stop too easy, then add-on another and another until you feel like there is a little bit of a push there. And keep doing it.
How many of us have used the excuse that we don’t have time to walk? I know I have had my hand in the air to that question in the past. What changed? Well, I realised that I wasted an awful lot of time that could very well be used for getting outside and walking. Think lunchtime. Rather than heading straight into lunch and a marathon internet browsing session, block off the time to go for a swift 30 minute walk before you eat. Explore the area around your work (or home if you work from home like me) and get your heart rate going.
If you’re a bit of a geek like me, then download an app, such as View Ranger. That way you can tack your times, distance and route to keep track of your progress. The more you get out there, the more you’ll realise you are able to get done in that short half an hour. Or to make things better, take a picnic to eat half way through your walk.
It is way too easy to overlook the local parks and green spaces around us (seriously, there are even disused ones right by the centre of Manchester believe it or not!) so take to your parks to make best use of them. Many of them will have hard paths so they are perfect for rainy days. You will probably also find that they have some health walk routes too which you can make use of. They are aimed at beginners, just like you, and I always love exploring them myself. Check here and here for nice places to wander and picnic in and around Manchester city centre.
Bits of Kit
As you know, I don’t believe that you need any special kit. But there are some things that I would recommend that you have on you while you’re out walking. Not only because they are useful, but because it will get you used to packing them when you go or longer walks and hikes in the future.
- Comfortable flat shoes,
- Rucksack or backpack for holding supplies and keeping your hands free,
- Bottle of water,
- Healthy snack,
- Waterproof coat,
- Hanky or tissues,
- Extra jumper/cardigan,
and if you’re planning on having a picnic on your walk then some sandwiches and a flask of tea/coffee are great!
As you can see from the list, you more than likely have all of these things around the house. At this stage, you really don’t need to be spending money in outdoors shops as you’re only doing fairly short journeys and have what you need already.
When we started out we were just in regular trainers and our regular clothes. Even our work bags were regular messenger bags (not recommended at all for longer walks as they twist your back!) Plus, we have been through our fair share of budget clothes as we grew into our walking and hiking. Even now we’re not going out in hundreds of pounds worth of gear and to be honest, neither are most of the people who really do walk and hike! (think of the people who buy all the new kit to go to the expensive gym they’re members of and they never go to!!)
So I hope that this post has given you some good tips to get you started on your journey to getting into walking. It is about learning about where your fitness level lies currently and gently building up on it. There is no point trying to walk for miles on your first go as you’ll end up in pain and wanting to give up.
Slowly might seem a bit annoying at first, but small pushes to stretch yourself will have the biggest benefits on your life and your fitness levels.
Have a go this week. Walk a stop or two in the morning, take a walk at lunch and get outside exploring your local parks and towns. You’ll be surprised how the miles add up and your body changes.
Enjoy your new venture into walking! Wherever you are!
Do you have any questions about getting started in walking that you’d like me to include in the guides?
No matter how silly or embarassing you might think it is, drop me a message or pop a comment below and I’ll include it in the next guide