My first week of walking has been a mixed bag in terms of weather and experience .
Keeping warm and dry is key to staying happy and on track.
The weather across Scotland has been pretty foul with a bracing mix of snow, freezing rain, high winds and low temperatures making the thought of getting out and getting miles covered and challenge in overcoming itself. Poor weather is something that can’t be avoided so selecting the right clothing and footwear is important for both your well being and morale.
Layering up for cold weather
Needless to say my waterproofs were given a thorough testing as was my winter layering system. Dressing in layers is an effective way of preventing sudden rises or falls in your core body temperature as this can lead to you developing conditions such as hypothermia or heat exhaustion.
When you are walking, your body heats up and begins to perspire and when you stop your body cools and the perspiration cools and saps the heat from your body so it important to consider the garments that you are using in your layering system.
Your outer layer should protect you from the elements and is usually the heaviest / bulkiest of your layers. The middle layer should be garment that both helps you to retain body heat and wick moisture quickly away from the base layer. The base layer should be as close fitting as possible to minimise heat loss and also to wick moisture away from your skin rapidly. Having an effective base layer is key to this system working effectively.
Based on the above I carefully chose my layers to suit the weather conditions and not forgetting to consider the effect of Wind Chill.
The Wind Chill Factor
The effect that wind has on our perception of cold is called the wind chill factor. Wind chill is one of those things that allow us to express how cold conditions really are around us.
The chilling effect of wind comes from two sources. Firstly it is caused by the disturbance of the insulating boundary layer of warm air over the skin and the second cause is the evaporative cooling effect of moisture loss from the skin.
You can learn more about the effect the wind has on body temperature by reading a post I wrote in September 2016 – A guide to the wind chill factor.
For my challenge I will be regularly switching the style of footwear I wear to match the requirements of each day’s walking. In 2016 I stuck to one style of boot which was in essence a heavy winter climbing boot. While these boots provided plenty of support and were comfortable to wear, they were excessive for the warmer months and less challenging walks so this year I will be rotating through different styles of footwear. I will be sharing what I learn about this aspect of the challenge throughout the year.
Week one milage
For this first week I kept the daily mileage fairly low (between 6 and 9 miles) so I could get myself into a good daily routine. This slow start to the challenge also helped me to identify any issues with kit and to fine-tune the process of recording the distances walked each day. This week coming will see the milage climb to between a daily total of between 9 and 12 miles.
Set yourself a challenge
Taking on your own walking challenge is a good way of not only improving your overall well-being but it really does change your view of what is possible.
You don’t have to opt for a huge number of miles you could start off with a goal of 10, 50 or 100 miles. The number of miles doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you are getting out there and working towards a goal that you once thought wouldn’t be possible.
I guarantee that you will not only find out a lot more about yourself and your abilities but you will also learn more the environment around you.
Go for it!
About Sean : Sean Makin is the founder of Walk Fife and is one of the volunteer coordinators behind the Walk Fife website and community.
Sean presents our regular audio podcast and can often be found walking along the Fife Coastal Path and over the Lomond Hills. You can follow Sean through his twitter account at @SDMakin and you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org