It won’t come as a surprise that one of our absolute favourite pastimes is going for a long walk or hike. When we were coming up with the name for our Instagram page, which then became the name for our website, we wanted something that would encapsulate our love of animals as well as our love of walking, travelling and being outdoors. Hence ‘Chris and Suze Go Walkies’ was born!

Despite our love of walkies, even we’ve been struggling to get up and out of the house during the cold winter days we’ve had lately. Trying to hit our step goal for the day just wasn’t happening, as we took our current pups for shorter strolls or chased the dying sunlight on late afternoon walks. While we have been taking good care of ourselves indoors, ensuring we enjoy some snuggly down time at home, we’ve really needed a kick up the backside to get us out and exploring again – no easy feat considering lockdown dictates we can only travel within our immediate area.

Last week a friend of ours put out a call on Instagram to see if anyone wanted to join her lockdown walking challenge – to walk 70,000 steps over a week, or 10,000 steps a day, using the app Stridekick to log the results daily. As lovers of walking, as well as a challenge, we jumped on board and signed up to Stridekick to get us moving once again. (We also love apps that help us achieve our goals – check out our recommended apps and websites blog post!)

The app is completely free to join, and you can create a walking challenge with up to 10 people (any more than that and you have to pay). There are three types of challenge mode to choose from; Leaderboard (for the more competitive walker), Streak (setting a daily activity goal) or Target (a more long-term step target, which is what we did). Challenges can last up to a month, and you can either invite friends to join you or take part in community challenges on the app. There’s also a chat section to discuss the challenge with other participants, and insights to keep you on track.

It’s a really neat and simple app that counts your steps/activity straight from your smartphone, or alternatively you can link your device (Fitbit, Garmin watch etc.) to the Stridekick app. This can be a little clunky – we’ve found we have to sync our devices on their dedicated apps before the results will sync on Stridekick, but we think it makes for more accurate results than just using our phones, which we don’t have strapped to us all day! After a week of using Stridekick to motivate us and get us out walking, here’s how our challenge shaped up!

Monday – Day 1

For our first walk of the challenge, we visited one of our favourite places to come when we housesit here in Norfolk – Holkham Hall. With 3,000 acres of the 25,000 estate open for the public to roam, it’s one of our top places to take a long walk as there’s so many different routes to follow! With Inca, Puff and Winnie in tow, we set off down one of the tree-lined paths to complete an anti-clockwise loop from the front gate, passing the Hall itself on the way. Aside from two horse-riders we passed shortly after beginning the walk, we didn’t see another person for our entire two hour stroll. We did, however, catch a glimpse of some of Holkham’s four hundred deer! Though they’re skittish and didn’t hang around long, it was lovely to see them all grouped together in their hundreds as we trudged along the muddy trail.

Step count for the day: 13,228

Tuesday – Day 2

We’ve been coming to this rural housesit annually for the past four years now, and this time we realised we’ve never walked from our teeny village to the biggest village in the vicinity with the local post office and independent shops. We’ve driven through it countless times as it’s only a six minute drive along country lanes, but now we’re in lockdown we figured it would be the best time to walk there and appreciate the gorgeous buildings and public spaces with nobody around. There’s no footpath from our village, so Chris plotted a route that would take us on a wide loop through neighbouring villages and over to Burnham Market. This fourteen kilometre walk took us almost four hours as we stopped in Burnham Market for a picnic on a bench and to give the pups some treats and water, before carrying on up a hill to admire the view over all the pretty cottages in the area – we could even see the sea in the distance! Puff and Inca, who are both eleven years old, were slowing down towards the end of the walk though they did speed up when they saw home was in sight! Safe to say we didn’t do very much once we reached the cottage, and all three dogs slept soundly through the afternoon!

Step count for the day: 23,705 (36,933 total – way ahead of our goal! We also earned some badges on Stridekick – a new Personal Best distance badge, a new Personal Best active minutes badge, as well as a new Personal Best steps badge!)

Wednesday – Day 3

After the previous day’s mammoth trek, all five of us were apparently feeling the effects! We woke up with aching legs after trudging over so many muddy fields, and all the dogs dozed through the morning. An hour before the sun was due to set, we took the pups for a gentle stroll around two fields next to our cottage – a route we know well as it’s the one we do every day when we wake up to get the pups out for a wee! There’s lots of smells and seemingly interesting tufts of grass for the girls to sniff at, and we all appreciated a gentler walk!

Step count for the day: 7,459 (44,392 total – according to Stridekick we’re 63% of our way to the target!)

Thursday – Day 4

It rained ALL day but we were STILL determined to get out and add some steps to our Stridekick challenge! Luckily there’s a beautiful forest less than ten minutes away (it’s actually my favourite place in the entire country) and due to the weather it was absolutely deserted! We had just enough cover under the shelter of the trees to stay mostly dry as we wandered through the forest – spotting a few teeny muntjac deer which Winnie and Inca enjoyed chasing after. Maybe they wanted to help add to our step total…

Step count for the day: 16,515 (60,907 total – super close to the target of 70,000!)

Friday – Day 5

Today we celebrated Chris’ birthday! To change things up from our regular walks, we found a two hour route slightly further along the beach from our usual walk, starting at the tiny village of Burnham Overy Staithe. Our route began in the village, so we got to ogle all the cute (and currently empty) holiday cottages – we didn’t see another soul until we got down to the harbour and our walk along the raised bank path began! We passed a handful of other dog walkers but other than that there was nothing to be seen for miles – it was eerily still across the marshlands to the beach. No winds, no wildlife save for the occasional goose honk, and no people. Just when we thought we’d have a very uneventful walk, Chris spotted a lone seal hanging out on the shore between two washed-up boats! This slowed us down a bit as we stopped to watch the beautiful seal and take some photos, but then we were off again, stomping the muddy, clay-like path to the sands. Winnie loves the beach and gets hyper as soon as her paws hit the sand, so we threw some pebbles for her to chase up and down the shore. This also helped us get in a few extra steps as we ran around with her!

Step count for the day: 13,788 (74,695 total – Yay! We hit the target and Stridekick shows we’re currently 102% of the way through the challenge with two days still to go. It just shows how motivating it is to have all your stats in front of you if you’re trying to get moving!)

Saturday – Day 6

We woke up to freezing cold winds, chucking down rain and a thick, slushy layer of snow over the fields! Our morning wee walk with the dogs chilled us right through, and for the first time in the week we thought we’d have to have an indoor day and forgo our daily walk. Luckily for us, the rain cleared by the afternoon and melted most of the snow so we were able to do a stomp around fields nearby, clad in wellies and waterproofs. We ended up cutting the walk shorter than planned, as the dogs were covered in soggy, slushy mud and we were worried about them getting chilly as the sun was setting. But we still managed to hit our step goal for the day! We’re pleased to have already hit the target total yesterday, so everything we add this weekend is just icing on top!

Step count for the day: 12,053 (86,748 total!)

Sunday – Day 7

On the last day of our Stridekick challenge we braved the chilly beach to get in some last minute steps – the Norfolk coast is practically deserted at the moment, save for a few other dog walkers! The wind on the beach made walking painfully cold, so we headed into the forest and had fun exploring while occasionally running into other pup pals for Winnie, Inca and Puff to play with. Having a dog (or three) really is the perfect accompaniment to a walking challenge, as it forces us to get outside and exercise even in the freezing cold of winter!

Step count for the day: 12,849

After aiming for 70,000 steps for the week, we ended up hitting 99,597! We’d highly recommend Stridekick as an easy way to challenge yourself, exercise more and hit those movement goals! The app is free to install, easy to use and has a simple but stylish design. We’re so grateful that we’ve got three dogs at our current housesit to keep us company on walks and provide us with one more reason to get out of the house, but the community element of Stridekick provides good accountability. We can chat with our friends about the day’s step totals, and get motivated to walk a little longer if a friend is just that bit further ahead…! Click here to download the Stridekick app for iOS, and click here to download the app for Android.

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