Michelle's 100 miles for Suffolk Mind

Although I have always been physically active, since August 2020, I have been working from home in my main role as a teacher. This meant that I went from walking between 8,000-10,000 steps a day, to sometimes only clocking up 2,000 steps. I was spending so much time in from of my laptop that it was really starting to impact on my mental health, not to mention my physical health.

On the 14th November 2020, I decided to sign up for the 100 Miles for Suffolk Mind Challenge. At 4 months pregnant, I had decided that I would complete the challenge by cycling in the gym and going out for walks, however, that plan soon went out of the window when the government announced that gyms would once again be closing. Unfortunately, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the future viability of my gym became materially uncertain and as a result, it permanently closed. This meant my only real option was to walk the 100 miles. I had already decided that I was not going to put a period on how long I had to complete the challenge, but instead, just focus on getting out for walks more regularly.

I set myself the challenge of walking at least 3 times a week, during my lunch break, as it gave me a good excuse to get up and away from my laptop. I started to notice a real difference my moods, and felt more alert during my afternoon lessons, once I had been out for my daily lunchtime walk. I also, continued to go for walks on my days off and at the weekends with my family.

Everything was going well, and I was clocking up the miles quite nicely, until on the 30th December 2020 I received the devastating news that my dad had unexpectedly passed away. As you can imagine, the news completely broke me and for a few days, I did not even leave the house. Given the fact that my dad lived in Barbados meant it was impossible for my twin brother and I to sort out anything from the UK, so on the 8th January 2021 and in my 26th week of pregnancy, we flew out to Barbados in order to organise and attend his funeral. Yes, I know we are in the middle of a global pandemic, but it was a given that we were going to make that journey in order to lay our dad to rest.

On arrival in Barbados, we were required to quarantine in a hotel room until we received a negative Covid test result. This meant we were not allowed to leave our hotel room at all! We only expected to be in our hotel room for 4 days, however, we spent a whole week waiting for our test results, which meant an already emotional and stressful time became even harder! I am not ashamed to admit that I struggled during that time, and I was even concerned about my own mental health in the final few days of being in quarantine.

With nothing much to do except watch our tablets/phones, my brother and I decided walk up and down our balcony with the aim of hitting our daily step goals and I can honestly say that having that goal to focus on each day helped to pass the hours and gave me a real focus!

During my time in quarantine, I am proud to say that I managed to walk 64,411 steps, which equals approximately 27.2 miles.

Once I returned to the UK I only had 17 miles left to complete, and I gave myself target of reaching 100 miles by the end of January 2021 and on Sunday 31st January, I finally reached 100 miles.

Little did I know that when I started the challenge, it would actually become a saviour of mine during what has been, without a doubt, the most difficult time of my life!