Earlier this month two of our trainers undertook a massive 50 mile walk to raise money for Alzheimer's Society! Whilst the Proclaimers may have promised to walk 500 miles and 500 more, in reality we think 50 miles is a pretty impressive feat for a fantastic cause! We caught up with Vicky Young and Nathan Moseley to find out what inspired them, how they trained and what the day consisted of.

What inspired you to do this walk?

Vicky: “I was bored one Sunday so decided to join Nathan on a 26 mile walk! We then posted on social media about it and got challenged by viewers to do more. Whilst on a 30 mile walk I joked about it only being 10 more miles until we would have walked the equivalent distance to London! So we decided to walk up to London which took us 80,000 steps and was 40 miles long and Nathan then had the crazy idea to try to walk 100,000 steps in one go. We figured out that it would probably take us 50 miles to achieve this based on what we’d done previously, and that’s how we came up with doing 50 miles up to and then around London. We decided to dedicate the walk to raising money for a charity that meant something to both of us, which also gave us a focus to work towards and complete.”

Nathan: “It was originally a tool to get my NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) up whilst I was trying to cut down on my body fat. Basically I was trying to move more to increase how many calories I burnt on a daily basis.”

Why a walk?

Vicky: “Because I hate running! No for me walking is so enjoyable, you can take in everything around you and keep up a relatively consistent pace without having to do a stupid amount of training which would take away from my resistance training program in the gym. We both also walk to and from work regularly so our walking tolerance was already pretty good.”

Nathan: “My reason was in order to get my NEAT up to increase my calorie expenditure, as you can consistently burn more calories walking than anything else and I could move for a longer period without impairing my training. The intensity of a walk wouldn’t carry over an effect on training over the next couple of days.”

Have you been walking a lot during lockdown?

Vicky: “Yes! It gave me something to do for an hour a day during the first 6 weeks of lockdown, got me out of the house, kept me moving and it was just nice to spend an hour on my own, listening to a podcast or just taking in my surroundings.”

Nathan: “Yes, again as part of my fat loss goal I had a daily step target that I was hitting. On average this was between 15-20,000 steps a day.”

What did training involve?

Vicky & Nathan: “There was no specific training that we did except the longer Sunday adventures we had done previously. We both walk a lot during the week and also both do a full body strength program, which hugely contributes to our leg strength, as well as joint and bone health and tolerance. We also both average 20,000 steps a day during the week because of the nature of our jobs, so are very used to being on our feet for long periods. However; we would definitely suggest doing some training before any event in order to build tolerance and strength and to prevent injury.”

How long did the walk take you in the end?

Vicky & Nathan: “18 and a half hours! It took a lot longer than we expected. We definitely both underestimated it and we hadn’t factored in the poor weather, heavy bags and the route itself, including huge hills which we slowed down for so as not to tire ourselves out too quickly. We also asked our Instagram followers to set us challenges along the way - for example 20 body weight exercises every 10km such as burpees, bicycle crunches or pull ups. We also filmed a lot and took a lot of photos for content for a video we are editing which added a lot of time to the walk.”

What were the highlights of the day and were there any tricky points?

Vicky: “Finishing! Then getting in the Uber at the Tower of London once we had completed mile 50! Also seeing my boyfriend at mile 40 was a HUGE highlight and seriously spurred me on to finish! And checking the steps and miles we had completed was a hugely rewarding the next day.

I would say for me the trickiest thing to deal with was that my feet got soaked at mile 0.5 so I very quickly got blisters and then every step was agony. It then slowed us down massively because I just couldn’t walk properly and so the trickiest point for both of us was mile 44. There was a tense moment but we made up very quickly and almost ran the last six miles! That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but we moved a hell of a lot faster than we had been going. There was another challenging point at mile 48 when we were so close to finishing, but both of us just kept our mouths shut and got it done!”

Nathan: “My highlights were finding out that Vicky had made my favourite raspberry and white chocolate cookies to keep us going, and stopping for coffee! Also the two pizzas I ate that evening! Finishing the walk at the Tower of London and seeing what we had achieved in the miles and steps we had walked was also a fantastic feeling!”

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to take up walking but didn’t know how/where to start?
Vicky & Nathan: “Definitely start small and build on it. If you don’t do a lot of walking start with a 10 minute walk and then build that up gradually based on how you find it. If you’re quite active then maybe set a mile target and build on that every week. If you’re looking to undertake a big challenge then adding in a lower body strength session will also benefit your legs in being able to tolerate walking for longer periods, as well as improving joint strength and tolerance.”

With so many sports events cancelled, many charities are losing out on a lot of donations, organising your own fundraising event like this is such a great idea! If others feel inspired, how can they do the same?

Vicky & Nathan: “We started off by picking the exercise, then picking the distance, training for it, putting it on our social media so that people could see what we were doing and get excited with us to make the whole process more enjoyable. Then we set up a “Just Giving” page and got in contact with the charity we are raising money for. A lot of charities have packs that they send out to people who are fundraising on their behalf, so we got in touch with the Alzheimer’s Society and they sent us over a load of stuff and also emailed us on the lead up to the event which was really nice!”