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I opened my eyes to the sun streaming through the window, an alarm beeping in my ear and the faint smell of curry in the room. Where was I? It took a moment to get my thoughts together. I turned off the alarm on my phone and checked the time, 5.45am. Who even knew that time existed, what was I doing up so early? I will tell you, my friends. 
Some time ago I made a decision to challenge myself to a much longer walk, and even managed to persuade a friend to join me. We signed up for a 100km continuous walk along the Thames path in September and today was our first major training walk. This time we were walking from just outside Crawley all the way into Brighton, and for some ridiculous reason we had decided to opt for the 6am start. Hence, I was staying in a hotel over an Indian restaurant on the A22 near Felbridge, attempting to get up at 5am to down a coffee before making our way to the start. 
The point of all of this? Health and Wellness, obviously. As I’m sure you know if you have read my previous blogs, I started a low carb lifestyle some time ago in an attempt to lose weight, (I’ve lost 3 stone) and generally get fitter. As a sports therapist, I spend a lot of time telling people how to get fit, and fixing them when they fail, so I really thought it was time to practice what I preach. So far, I must say, its working well. Although at a quarter to five on a Sunday morning in May I might have been regretting my decisions. 
Arriving at the start, on a warm sunny morning with a crowd of other walkers all buzzing and excited to get started, certainly lifted my spirits, and before long we set off through the trees of Tullys Farm on our way south. At this point I feel I have to mention the company that organise these walks, Action Challenge, as they do an excellent job. The provide you with food and drink all along the route, regular stops for comfort breaks as well as full support from their trek masters should you get into difficulties. Good work guys! 
So, the rest of our morning was spend rambling through the Sussex countryside, passing huge houses I could never afford, and through a couple of private schools, each with its own golf course and polo field. When I was at school, we had a playground, and the shops to bunk off to. How the other half live. We met many people on our walk, some of whom had been walking the full 100km route from London, and we still walking when we joined in. A taste of what was to come on our own epic journey later in the year perhaps? 
Lunchtime came all too soon and we were provided with a plethora of food and drinks. Being low carb often makes eating out more of a challenge but the thing I like about Action Challenge is their keenness to accommodate any dietary request. So a plate full of bacon and sausages and some pulled pork suited me very well. 
The afternoon went much the same as the morning, large houses, country estates, fields full of horses, cows, sheep and the odd chicken. We were making excellent time and kept to our target of 5km/hour. With long walks like this its important to pace yourself and set yourself an achievable goal. Everything was going well until the south downs loomed up in front of us. Whilst not exactly high peaks, the downs are incredibly steep and the going was so much slower. But, having been slightly ahead of ourselves passed Plumpton racecourse, (I’ve watched racing from Plumpton, I’ve even lost money on horses in Plumpton, had no idea where it was. Funny what you learn on your walk) we still managed stay on target. 
Finally we spotted the sea. From the middle on the country all the way to the coast, it was like a glimpse of heaven. A couple of miles later we were walking through Brighton racecourse headed for the finish line, a medal and a glass of champagne (well, a plastic cup of Prosecco, but you know what they say about beggars and choosers.) 
So, our entire 45km walk was completed in just over 10 hours including stops. I felt so much better at the end, although I’m not sure I could have turned around walked back, so there is definitely work to be done before the September challenge. Anyway, why am I telling you all this? Because walking is good for you and lots of fun. If you can get out this summer, do it. Walk somewhere. You don’t need to take on a crazy challenge, I appreciate you aren’t all as mad as me, but you could at least walk to a shop, or a café, or a pub. Walking has so many health benefits for all of us, and its free. Lets face it, these days very few things in life are really free, so get out there, walk somewhere, make the most of this glorious country we live in. And don’t forget if you get to the end and totally exhausted, there’s always a massage at Alchemy to look forward to. 
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