Sponsored dog walk (1) – How I trained with M.E/CFS

Over the past 3 years I’ve mostly walked on flat terrain while the dog plods slowly beside me. Occasionally I’ve managed longer walks with sit down breaks, but it comes with sacrificing a few days to recover. The chosen route up Helvellyn is 3600ft of ascending at a distance of 9.3 miles. That’s ten times higher and longer than I’m used to. With just 1 month until Helvellyn…I needed a plan!

My biking experience tells me consistency is key. I knew we needed to build height and distance each week. Darwen Hill is our nearest walk. At 730ft and a distance of 5-miles, this was our starting block.

A gentle start.
View across the moorland to Darwen Tower.
The newly renovated Darwen Jubilee Tower.
Kita cannot keep her paws clean.
View across to Preston and Blackburn including the Lake District hills in the distance too.

The walk took 2 and a half hours with 4 breaks and ended with a well-deserved sausage butty, yum! Apart from my usual feeling of spaced out floatiness, going up the gentle slope of Darwen hill didn’t actually feel too strenuous. I’ve obviously kept some fitness. Although it did take 3 days to recover back to my baseline but by day 4, I was already thinking of our next walk.

Time to hit the Lakes! Cat Bells was the next hill of choice. It’s twice as high as Darwen Hill, steeper but the same length. Perfect.

Cat Bells above the trees.

I’ve hiked (it’s the Lakes you get to call it ‘hiking’ now) this hill a few times in the past but oh wow, I forgot how steep it is. Poor Kita, she hates hills. It really took some treats to get her up the first track, bless her.

We’d just set off. This stubborn Akita was already dragging her paws.

Scrambling next, minor, but still needs focus. Now, I’m not good with heights and you’d think since our dog is an Akita (you know, built for hunting in the Japanese mountains covered in snow and ice) that I’d be relaxed knowing there’s nothing on Cat Bells to phase her, but somehow, I turned on the ‘overprotective mother mode’. I spent more time worrying about how Kita was coping than thinking about myself. I mean, do dogs even worry about heights? She didn’t seem to when she trundled off the side at one point. I however, was a nervous wreck. She was promptly put on the lead after that! I’m blaming M.E for my overreactive nervous system. What? it could be thing.

Just Kita, because I like this pic and felt it needed to be included.
Kita over the edge. I know, horrifying!
Making light work of the rocks.
My camera wouldn’t work…ok I was too scared to get my phone out. So, I stole this pic from tripadvisor.co.uk to show a section of the scrambling on Cat Bells.

Finally, with plenty of water stops and slow walking we made it to the top. It rained, but it was welcome since it was so humid.

Water break and good rest for me.
Cat Bells trig point.
Looking back to Derwentwater it was as stunning as I remembered.

Back down, we were that hungry there was a deathly silence the whole time we ate lunch. Must eat sooner next time.

Back to the shore for a good break.

4 hours that took and we climbed 1340ft. I wasn’t feeling too bad until we stopped, then the tiredness set in. We ate chips and a good glug of coke, had a quick pootle around some shops in Keswick then set off home. I was thoroughly done in. All that night and the next day my legs ached. 2 days after that the PEM hit. It had me in bed and took me 3 days to recover.

I know it was increasing my crashes but when you have the adventure in your spirit you can’t help but be pulled towards the great outdoors.

I have the drive for another hike.

Find out in my next blog where I went.

Jacqui x

I’m fundraising for Saving Saints and St Bernard and Big Paws Rescue UK. This charity frees dogs from abuse, neglect and meat trades. They care for, seek fostering and rehome these dogs to which they are in need of funding to continue their amazing work. If you would like to sponsor me, please use this link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Jac41

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