Walking the walk

In January my Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s doing really well, but it was obviously quite a shock. Soon after, my sister suggested that we do the Moonwalk. No, not the Michael Jackson move, the charity speedwalking event that raises money for the Walk The Walk breast cancer charity. Now, if you know me, you’ll probably know that I’m not the most sporty person, so sponsored race type events are not generally something I’m drawn towards. My gut reaction was therefore one of ‘this probably isn’t going to be for me’. However, due to the personal association with the cause, I didn’t want to dismiss it without good reason, plus my sister seemed really keen and I didn’t want to let her down. I read through the online description of the event and although it was outside of my general comfort zone, there was nothing that made me feel like I couldn’t do it. In fact the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a positive challenge. It’s specifically a walking event – no running allowed – which was the biggest draw for me. I’ve never been able to run – I get out of breath insanely quickly – but walking I can do. I enjoy walking, which is just as well as I don’t drive! I’m also a fast walker, so this seemed like the perfect event in that sense. The other defining characteristics of the Moonwalk are that it’s at night and you have to walk it in a decorated bra. These were the more out-of-comfort-zone elements in that I need my sleep and don’t have a particular desire to expose that much flesh in public. However, I realised that the Half Moon (half marathon distance) wouldn’t finish too ridiculously late at night, so I’d still get some decent sleep, plus you can decorate the bras in a way that makes them feel a bit less exposing. Plus I quite like the excuse to be crafty and imaginative – maybe I have untapped skills in bra pimping! How else will I find out?

Initially we were planning to do the walk in London, but as it’s the night before (and the morning of) my niece’s birthday, it wasn’t the most convenient for my sister (plus I later realised it’s also Eurovision night, so I would have been gutted to miss that). Instead we’ve signed up to do the Scottish Moonwalk, which is in Edinburgh. I’ve only been to Edinburgh once before, for a Cerys gig in 2006, so other than the Liquid Rooms, a Subway (only significant as I’d never been to one before, didn’t totally get how they worked and ended up with an insanely dull and dry sandwich), some pubs and a bit of time in a park, I haven’t really seen Edinburgh properly, so going back was an appealing prospect just on its own.

The walk itself is now only a month away, which hasn’t quite sunk in yet. You’re provided with a training plan which I’ve been sticking to as closely as possible. At the time of starting it, I was feeling quite unfit. Previously I’ve always had decent walks to and from work every day, to maintain some vague level of fitness, but in October I started a job that’s literally around the corner from where I live. Although the convenience is great in a lot of ways (I love being able to pop home for lunch), I’ve definitely felt the effects of the lack of exercise. I would sometimes contemplate doing other exercise, but it’s a bit too much like hard work isn’t it? Walking’s like a stealth form of exercise when it’s also a necessity. I’m therefore weirdly looking forward to moving further away from work at some point. Anyway, despite being quite out of practice, the training’s been going well and I’m feeling slightly less decrepit, which is always a bonus. The element of it that I’ve found most uncomfortable, probably weirdly, is going out in public in exercise clothes. Initially I was able to avoid this, as it’s not so necessary for the shorter walks, plus the weather was cold enough that I could generally get away with wearing a long coat over the top of my leggings. Like I said, stealth exercise! However, there have been a couple of occasions now when I’ve had to bite the bullet and head out in leggings and a t-shirt. Even when I wore leggings back in the ’90s I wore long t-shirts and jumpers over them (ah, the ’90s). I’m not sure what it is that feels so exposing about going out in just leggings – I think it’s because they’re just a step up in opacity from heading out in a pair of tights. I feel like I’m not properly dressed; like I’ve forgotten to put a skirt on. I’ve found that taking a hoodie and tying it round my waist makes me feel a bit less naked, though that might become a bit odd if this good weather persists. I’m not sure why I feel so self-conscious about people knowing that I’m exercising. PE was never my thing at school, but I had no particular hang-ups about it either. I hated swimming (I can’t swim) and hockey (too much mud and ankle bashing), plus running of any kind (as previously mentioned), but otherwise I was fairly ambivalent. I quite liked netball, tennis was all right, rounders/softball/baseball type games could be quite fun (despite my ineptness at actually hitting the ball), belly baseball was awesome (was this something that just our school did?), most athletic type events (running aside) were pretty bearable, volleyball was quite good… plus I went dancing outside of school (my Mum had her own dance school), so I was fairly active and fit… I guess I just haven’t seen myself as a ‘person who does exercise’ since I was at school, so I feel like a bit of an impostor or something. Like other exercising people can sense I’m not one of them. I might have some issues with paranoia… Hey, I’m an X-Phile. Trust no-one. Anyway, despite the awkwardness at exposing my leggings-clad bum in public, I’m generally enjoying the training. It’s often an effort to make myself go and do it, but once I’m on my way, it’s fine. Granted, my longest walk so far has only been 7 miles, so just over half of the full distance I’ll be doing, but it’s creeping up to 10 miles within the next 3 weeks. That’s the longest I’ll be doing in the training – I’ll just do the full 13.1 miles on the night itself.

Sadly I haven’t had my bra delivered yet, so no decorating has taken place. I really hope it comes soon (it kinda has to come fairly soon!) as I don’t really want to rush the decorating. I was also hoping to wear it a few times prior to decorating it, just to wear it in a bit and make sure it’s comfortable enough (and supportive enough!) for walking 13 miles in. If it doesn’t come soon (or possibly even if it does), I might just end up decorating an old existing bra of mine and then keeping the supplied one as a regular bra. I have some rough plans as to how I’m wanting to decorate it (the theme for the Scottish walk is Hollywood), so I actually ordered a couple of bits off Ebay last night. Whether I can actually get it to look how I want it to is another matter, but maybe that’ll be a separate blog post!!

Anyway, most importantly, it’s all about raising money for charity. I’ve been blown away by how generous people have been in their donations and how many friends and family members have contributed. Thank you all so so much, it really means a lot. If anyone is reading this who hasn’t donated already, please consider it – any amount is gratefully received – £5 from one person can be equivalent to £50 from another person – don’t feel judged or pressured to match other peoples’ donations. My fundraising page is here:

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3 Responses to Walking the walk

  1. Crashing Elliptical says:

    This a really great read, thanks for posting. I think it’s fairly common to feel a little self conscious when going out in public in exercise clothing/workout gear. Whilst they’re practical, they’re not always the most flattering. Body fit football shirts might look good on Premier League footballers, but not so much on the guy in the stands with the beer belly.

    I very much identify with the feeling like an impostor part too, it’s why I tend to limit my exercising to using an exercise bike in the comfort of my own home, rather than risking the horrors of a , shudder, gym… I suppose I walk to town and back each day to meet my lift to work, but that is in work clothes, so a bit more under the radar!

    I really hope the walk goes well, I think it’s a really great thing you are doing, and for a very worthy cause. Good luck with it all.

    Oh, and I have to ask, what on earth is belly baseball?! Using your torso to hit a ball or something?

    • Chantal Chantal says:

      Thanks 🙂 You do stealth exercise too! I feel like this should catch on as a phrase.

      I’m not sure if you saw my explanation of belly baseball on Facebook? I’ll copy and paste it in case you didn’t…
      It basically had the same general principles of baseball, in that you had to hit a ball and then run between 4 bases, except you hit a volleyball with your hand and the 4 bases were crash mats that you had to belly flop onto. You could also then be hit with the ball, in a dodge ball kinda way, when running between the bases. We’d only get to play very occasionally when the weather was bad and there was nothing else planned, but it was The Best.

  2. Crashing Elliptical says:

    I must say that does sound like a lot of fun!

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