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Get yourself a map for your fitness journey

Written by Sarah on

Just like going for a walk in the countryside, every fitness journey should start with a map and an intended destination. How are you going to see improvements if you don't know where you're going or how to get there?

For Christmas last year a friend bought me a bespoke OS map, with my house in the middle of it. I’ve done a lot of walking over the years including some long-distance ones like the West Highland Way and a trek to Everest Base Camp but embarrassingly I have never really used a proper map before, just directions on a walking app or blindly followed in someone else’s footsteps.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by this map I decided it might be a good idea to book myself on a map reading workshop with the Peak Rangers. It was an incredibly useful day of learning what the various lines and symbols meant and taking on board lots of tips on how to map read during the practical exercises out in the Peak District.

I have recently attempted a few solo ventures, armed with my local OS map and plotting out my own routes via the numerous public footpaths around my area. I can’t believe how joyful and empowering I’ve found these experiences. Actually being able to locate where I am within the landscape, feeling confident that I’m on the right path and empowered to change my route should I need to due to changing conditions (or a scary looking bull on one occasion blocking the path…).

It made me think about how learning to map read is similar to embarking on a fitness journey. It can feel like something we should have already done as children, during scouts or undertaking the Duke of Edinburgh Award and we feel a bit embarrassed to admit that it’s something we don’t really have any experience of, we almost feel like we should instinctively know how to do it.

Using a map on a walk we can assess our environment and work out where we are right now and it’s important to do that when you start your fitness journey. What is your current environment (work, home, social)? What are the barriers stopping you from going down this path (it might be a lack of time and childcare instead of a scary bull)? What landmarks and milestones are nearby which can help you identify your current situation (health screening, a milestone birthday or life event)?

We also need to have a plan of where we want to get to and then plot out a route to get there. If you don’t have a set destination you can find yourself wandering aimlessly or sometimes ending up somewhere you’d rather not be (like a sewage plant or in fitness terms with lifestyle related illnesses).

Arming yourself with the knowledge of how to read a map can lead you down some exciting hidden pathways which you never knew existed without the map. It can also make you feel empowered and confident as you know which paths are accessible to you. If you are someone who currently lives a sedentary lifestyle then getting fit enough to climb a mountain, run a marathon or take part in a strength competition might all seem like impossible destinations but with the right map and guidance you can get there.

Sometimes on walks and on our fitness journeys things don’t go to plan. Your map is there to help you overcome these obstacles and find alternative routes. Maybe you decided to start running and ended up with a knee injury, it doesn’t have to be the end of your fitness journey, there are lots of other options out there.

If you feel like you could use some help in plotting your journey to fitness and help with reading your individual map, get in touch for a free consultation.

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