Not my own tag line. This was the fundraising call from Prostate Cancer UK. To do 11,000 steps every day in March to raise money for them. It is a cause dear to my heart, as those who know me well will know, and the company I work for is in the third year of a charity partnership with them.
One of the guys in the larger team I work for arranged for a March for March challenge in the team. Twelve of the team were going to try and do 11,000 steps every day, and as a combined team we would try to get enough steps to walk a virtual tour of all of our power stations around the UK, just shy of 2,000 miles.
And I signed up. My last fundraising effort was doing the Thames Path Challenge for Marie Curie back in 2012 – which also involved walking. A lot.
I usually average about 7-8,000 steps per day, but that is usually made of up five not very active days dragged up by a couple of quite active days. So, there was a bit of work to drag the not very active days up to a level where I was doing 11,000 every day, and still more on the more active days.
As I started out, I found there were a lot of little incremental gains that would help. Very much in the Dave Brailsford mantra. A trick I missed on the first day of the month, but picked up after that, was where to park the car when arriving at work. I tended to park in the parking space as close to the entrance of my building as possible. Twenty steps tops to the door. But, if I parked in the spaces out the front of the main building, and towards the end of them, then it was 4-500 each way, nearly a thousand steps a day extra straight away.
And there were lots of those little wins in the building at work as well. I had a tendency to dump my coat on the floor in the corner near my desk. Change that to putting it in the coat cupboard at the other end of the floor. Don’t do everything on one trip from my desk. Putting rubbish in bins, getting drinks from the canteen, going to the toilet. Do them all separately. And when doing any of them, make it a lap of the floor. Get up from the desk more than three times a day. When the fatbit on the wrist buzzes to say I haven’t moved this hour, get up and do so.
Lunch breaks. I’ve never been one for leaving my desk at lunchtime. I had been doing a single shopping trip on a Monday lunchtime to get supplies for the week and then not leaving the building on any other day. Yet, in March I’ve been out for half an hour every day. I’ve been up and down every side street and footpath around the locality of the building. After all, I like looking around when I go anywhere else, so why not where I’m working. There are plenty of little hidden gems near the office.
Evenings. Go for a walk, even if it is only around the block. I was aggrieved on day one when my little fatbit didn’t have a wrist party for me reaching 10,000 steps for the day. Only to remember that I’d reset it to have the wrist party at 11,000 steps instead.
And the 11,000 steps a day was my aim for the month. When I started. Until I saw the figures for the first six days of the challenge. I’d done over 100k in those first six days, which made me think, that’s just under a fifth of the month, so if I kept that pace up, I’d hit 500k for the month. And with that my daily target changed from 11,000 to 16,130.
Plus, I’m competitive. I saw that that many steps was putting me near the top of the leader board. Why not try to eke some more out and top the leader board?
And so, I found myself doing other little wins. Not going the most direct route anywhere. Not using public transport or driving when it was possible to walk. Use public transport instead of taxis, so it isn’t door to door. Whilst waiting for anything, walk little laps. Just keep moving whenever possible.
I was helped a lot by the fact we went to Budapest for five nights. Exploring anywhere new means we walk lots. There were other days out as well, which helped. Helen was enormously supportive, both in going for walks with me, and with finding detours to extend those walks.
By the time I’d returned to work after twelve days off, I’d already broken the 500k for the month figure, and found I had quite a lead in the competition. It would have been easy at that point to coast the rest of the way. So, I did the opposite. I gave myself some new goals. First, break 600k steps for the month. On the second last day of the month I’d done this, thanks to a mammoth trek around Crawley taking pictures of churches. Then to break 300 miles for the month. I went through this on a little lunchtime stroll yesterday. Finally, make it to 620k steps for the month. To take that daily average for the month to 20,000 a day. I needed over 16k for the final day. And so, I walked across town to the WordFest comedy night, and I walked back after it and in doing so I hit that final target.
The team hit their target on the 30th as well, a great effort by all involved. And I managed to top the leader board and do the most steps in the month. Yes me. The fat, old bloke with two dodgy knees. I’ve been lucky in a couple of ways. The weather has been good walking weather for most of the month, there has been hardly any rain through the month. And I’ve avoided catching any lurgy, whereas other members of the team have seen their activity affected by Covid.
Though they seem to be less dodgy than they used to be. I’m not as fat as I used to be which probably helps, and I only resorted to biofreeze and ibuprofen three times during the month, whereas there was a time in the not too distant past where there were daily ice packs, and ibuprofen as of course.
At the end of a busy 31 days my final fatbit stats for the month were.
4,423 Zone Minutes
811 Floors Climbed
30 Badges Earned (some multiple times).
And despite the ridiculous amounts of food consumed when in Budapest I managed to lose 4 pounds in weight as well.
Now that March for March is done, what does it mean for my walking (besides wanting to lay in a darkened room for a couple of weeks)? Amble for April? Meander for May? Jump for June? Jog for July? (OK, those last two may be stretching the capabilities of my knees regardless of how much better they are compared to a couple of years ago.) I’m not going to go for anything as excessive as I did for March, there is no competition there to keep me going anyway. I will reset the target back to 10,000 steps a day on my fatbit. But there are a number of the habits taken up in March that I should be keeping. Move more often, and move further.
A few people have given me money for sponsorship, but I don’t have a specific donation link for myself. The organiser for our team – Mike Birmingham – has a Just Giving page we have been using for the team, it is linked to him as he is also doing the London Landmarks half marathon this weekend for Prostate Cancer UK. If anyone does want to sponsor me for walking around aimlessly a lot this month, on a retrospective basis then please use the link below and donate (perhaps put a note on to say it’s for Kev for March for March).
Mike Birmingham is fundraising for PROSTATE CANCER UK (justgiving.com)