Marathon runner Libby Brewster has embraced a slower pace of life in 2020. Here, she tells us how she found solace in walking.

Slowing it down

“I started walking more because my work situation changed and then lockdown happened. Previously I was doing more high-intensity exercise such as running and HIIT workouts, but it became sporadic. Doing a half marathon would involve a lot of training and I would focus most of my runs on preparing for that. Then, after that, I’d have a few months off before picking my next event. I enjoyed running because it made me feel like I’d achieved something each time. It was always about distance or speed. It was big bursts of training rather than anything consistent.”

Changing pace

“It got to the point where I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, which was making me unhappy. I wanted to do something that was more sustainable. I wanted something that was going to be better for my mental wellbeing as well as my physical fitness. Walking is definitely less about the competition, and my partner and I can do it together. He’s a runner as well but a much faster one than me, so that would make it hard for me to keep up with him. We talk more on a walk together than we would have done on a run, which is nice. I got an email this week about the London Triathlon, but I think I’ll still want to walk even if I do decide to train for that. The older I get the more walking I want to do.”

Mixing it up

“I often do a mindful colour walk, so I’ll look for colours while I’m out on a stroll. It’s a mindfulness technique that helps you focus on the moment. You see so many things that you wouldn’t do normally by doing that. Often when I ran, I’d listen to music or a podcast and I’d miss so much of what was around me. Last month, I discovered routes that I never knew existed. Finding different ways of walking is really important, I think. There’s so much variety with what you can do on a walk, whereas with running, I’d be looking for the distance and the time. I’m now going out pretty much every day, probably five times a week. Some walks are obviously shorter than the others, but on my days off from work, I do one big hike.”

Breath of fresh air

“Weirdly, I’m getting more time outside than I would if I was running because I would only do that once or twice a week. With the lockdowns in 2020 as well, it’s almost like I have to go out to keep my mental wellbeing in check. I feel refreshed and much more settled after I’ve been out on a walk. I might have had a bigger burst of adrenaline when I was running but walking is much more sustainable and makes me conscious of the world around me.”