Marchathon 2017 Stories

Staff and Students taking part in Marchathon 2017 were asked to share their experience of taking on this year’s challenge! A huge thank you to all of the story writers who took the time away from all of the walking to share their experience with us both during and following the challenge. You can also view some of the videos we received on our Facebook page. Happy Reading…

End of Marchathon 2017 Stories

Moving in March – My Marchaton Story…It’s too easy to become sedentary when you have a predominately desk bound job; the Marchathon has been a catalyst to get me up and moving and make some long overdue chances to my daily exercise plans and commuting habits. Combined with need to try and reduce my weight (especially after Christmas), the Marchathon has given me the impetus to get up and walk to and from work each day, rain or shine, leaving the car at home. I live 2.5km walking distance from work and would have driven about 3km to get to the staff car park each day. I have managed to save €20.00 – €25.00 on fuel each week as a result of walking to and from work, combined with walking to the local shops, or to visit family and friends etc. This is something I am going to keep up as it is sustainable and builds exercise into my daily routine. During my working day I feel I have more energy after walking into work, which is boosted at lunch time as I go walking with colleagues (or on my own when they are not available) as opposed to sitting in my office or in the canteen. It’s a good time to catch up and clears your head. Walking home from work is a great way to relax and unwind; and has helped boost my energy to go for a walk after dinner instead of sitting on the couch in front of the TV. I achieved a weight loss during the Marchathon of 4.4kg (9.7lb), with minimal change to my diet. I look at food differently and have realised that if I eat a pack of crisps or a bar of chocolate that I will have walk about 3km – 4km to burn it off, so my food choices have changed. Thanks to all involved in setting the Marchaton up.” Patrick Boylan, Dublin City University

We all really enjoyed Marchathon. None of us had a clear idea how much walking and exercise we were doing before the challenge. We were all pleasantly surprised by how active we were without realizing it and how easy it was to slowly increase our activity levels. Our biggest habit change was deciding to do little things such as take longer routes or walk a little bit further than normal in order to find somewhere to eat for lunch. Instead of going to the Starbucks right beside us on campus we decided to try venture a bit further and we found some great new places as a result.” Anonymous

I have felt during the March a little bit depressed. I have been going through a break-up with my long-term boyfriend, due to which I have felt lonely and have also had problems to wake up and go to the classes. Fortunately, I am ending the month with positive energy and power to do more. I am part of a team of excellent people who motivate me every day. I knew that I have to walk 10,000 steps every day because I did not want to disappoint my team. In the beginning, it was hard to me to change my habits and not spend a whole day in pajamas, but, in the end, I made it and have never been so proud of myself as I am now. Since the beginning of the March, I discovered new parts of Limerick and met a lot of new people. I walked so much that I actually needed to buy a new pair of shoes. I do not want this month to be over, I would want it to continue! I did not expect that having an everyday goal would change my life and mindset so much better.” Michalina, UL

What I have learned over the month of March is:
1. When I sit at my desk all day I do very little steps and have to work really hard to even hit 10, 000 – and its good to have classes in locations all over the college as it picks up steps without even realising it.
2. If I take the time to stop worrying about the house and just get out and play with my kids I can clock up so many steps, have fun with them and keep me and them out in the fresh air feeling healthier and happier. It doesn’t have to be about doing exercise its just about getting out and moving more.
3. Marchathon has impacted my whole family as they are all interested in how active they are and how many steps me and they have done in a day.
So Marchathon has made me and all my family get more active; having fun and spending time together.” Joanne Regan, IT Sligo

In general I walk three miles every day either early in the morning or late evening since I have two collie dogs. However that was not enough to get me up to 10000 steps a day, so anyone looking in my window will see me very late at night running on the spot or on my old stepper machine trying to clock up the steps. It’s amazing what you can do during the add breaks. Since taking up Marchaton, I try and get to the beach with the dogs at the weekends for longer walks. If I am with friends I find myself surreptitiously looking at my counter and if I have not reached my daily goal I suggest a detour or some other way back to the car to extend the walk. ” Anne Marie Courtney, IT Tralee

I joined the challenge a bit late into the month and at first was unsure about joining at all due to time constraints but did so anyway and am delighted I did! Before I began my course in September, I went to the gym 5 times a week after work and loved it- the exercise always helped to improve my mood after a long day in work (I work in a creche), I slept better and experience less pain in my back, the result of a car accident and a medical problem. Since beginning the course I have had to stop attending the gym and have been travelling more for work, roughly 2 hours a day from 6.30 until 6 in the evening, am working full time and attending college 2 nights from 6 to 10. This has had a negative impact on my health but since joining the challenge, I have noticed some big changes. I have made a more conscious effort to go on a walk before work when possible and a 40 minute walk on my lunch time and noticed huge change in my energy levels as well as my general outlook- I went through a rough patch in work and was very stressed for a long while and that extra hour of fresh air and endorphins from my walk really helped to clear my head. Before the challenge, I was getting in about 10000 steps daily but have since bumped up my daily goal to 14,500 on my Fitbit. This also records my total weekly steps and I usually get over 100,000. I set a personal goal of 130,000 steps in a week and smashed it by reaching 150,000. I was extremely proud of myself reaching this as my time is very limited with work, college, assignments and travelling and reaching this goal has been important to me as exercise was a big part of my life before college and I now feel more confident and happier knowing I can still stay fit and challenge my own personal best. When the challenge finishes, I will continue will my daily walks and plan on walking home from work (3 hours) when the weather improves. I also plan on reaching 160,000 steps soon!” Simone

Marchathon has been awesome. I have learned so many things. I’ve learned that I have a determination, a drive, no challenge too big or small, I can do it. We may have not reached the number one spot but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that I stepped up to the plate and challenged myself to get out of my comfort zones and the routine of college and added a healthy self care aspect to my day. You see, it’s so easy to stick to the ordinary mundane routine of life but for me, challenging myself to take on this meant I had to do something extra other than study study study. It turned into step step step. This became my mantra every day. If I saw a team mate I’d say step step step step step. If I saw my friends in other teams it provide some commeradary and kinship amongst other teams too. It provided an opportunity to instil healthy habits that I shall keep up.
It became part of my conscious that I need to be aware of my walking and this is good. It’s the little things in life that matter you see but it really walking all about the walking. It was the lasting friendships that were made a long the way, the songs that were sang while out walking with team mates, the healthy competition amongst our team and others but most of all the memories. All I can say to finish this now is “step step step step step”. Go raibh míle maith agat smarter travel Campus for this awesome initiative and long may it continue ! Team Care Bears for Life!! One happy with life and energised student.” Catherine “Kitty” Terrett, Team Captain of Care Bears at A.I.T.

I had already taken part in the Stepathon and after a slow start to my fitness this year, I thought this would be a great opportunity. We got a team together with some great enthusiastic walkers and they spurred me on to get higher figures. Yes, I did get competitive with myself! After a month, walking has become my daily routine. Instead of coffee breaks – I walk. I fit in a walk at lunchtime nearly everyday. In the evening, I make sure I get out for an hour or more and walk to the shops when before I would have driven. I park my car far away from where I need to go, so I can pick up more steps. The benefits have been huge. I feel good getting fresh air and time to think everyday. My waist is definitely shrinking and my legs are stronger than ever before! It’s been a great motivation for me to get more exercise and I’ve enjoyed some lovely walks along the way.” Fiona Tuohy, Maynooth University

Limerick College of Further Education might not have had the biggest amount of signups. We might not have had as many teams as other colleges! We may not have even clocked in the most amount of steps! We don’t mind! The Marchathon for us has been an amazing experience. Our staff team is made up of members across all sections of the college, management, teachers and support. We have gotten the chance to get to know each other outside the walls of our college, we’ve gotten to share ideas, stories and more importantly encourage and support each other in the challenge. Along the way we’ve had the chance to flex our creative muscles as well as our actual ones and take part in some of the fun challenges always putting our own spin on the weekly them; training with dinosaurs and even walking in the steps of rock legends! As the Marchathon comes to an end, we can look back at all we’ve done and achieved in the month and more importantly, have a laugh about it! Here’s to the Marchathon 2018 challenge!” Declan Doody, Limerick College of Further Education

I would like to start by saying, Thank You Marchathon. I’m delighted I took part in the challenge. It made me more conscious of my fitness levels and strive for more steps on a daily basis. In a busy work & home life, this was of great benefit to me and the saying healthy body/healthy mind is so true. The challenge encouraged team building and we looked forward to the weekly leaderboard results albeit not in the top 10, of our organisation, but we still have the rest of today to go so fingers crossed. Looking forward to next year’s challenge“. Susan Stynes, Trinity College Dublin

My Marchathon adventure so far has really improved my activity levels on a daily basis. It has got me really focused on becoming more active from day to day, aiming to step out at least 10,000 steps each day. I also notice any day (e.g. weekend) when I have not been hitting my target and has given me the necessary drive to improve my standards and hit the target I set myself on those days. I am becoming more conscious of the different opportunities there are to be active on a daily basis (no matter how big or how small) e.g. taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking to and from work, as every step you take adds up. There is also a great team spirit among my team as we drive each other on which really motivates us to improve our activity levels each day. I am aiming to finish out the Marchathon Challenge as strong as possible, build on the amount of steps I do each day and also aim to keep my activity levels high after the Challenge has ended. The Marchathon Challenge has been a most wonderful experience so far, it has and will continue to improve my activity awareness and lifestyle in the future and I really hope there is another Marchathon challenge in 2018.” Padraic Briody, Granty’s Army Team, Trinity College Dublin

Marchathon 2017 offered some beautiful bright sunshine for long glorious walks around Maynooth University campus and beyond. The challenge our team faced when the temperatures dropped, the pavements got icy and the snow fell only helped to reinforce our resilience. We live in Ireland, the weather is our constant companion and source of endless talk, speculation and trepidation as we try to plan outings, occasions and events for family, colleagues and friends. Marchathon 2017 helped to brighten the days, even the ones that were overcast and dull. Knowing you are part of a walking team really can help to motivate you when the couch and TV is whispering in your ear. Guilt will set in quickly if you feel yourself slipping into a slumber. Pounding the pavements, or floating along in the gentle summer-like breeze we all enjoyed on March 14th and 15th makes being part of a team and participating in a walking challenge very worthwhile. It lifts your mood and lightens your heart. I encourage others to try the next step challenge that is offered by Smarter Travel Campus, you may surprise yourself. Thanks to my team mates in Quick Marc, our rivals in MU Library, the Library Legends and the other teams in Maynooth University and beyond.” Bernadette Gardiner, Maynooth University

During Marchathon.. In My Shoes Stories

The reason I put on my runners and head out the door is my mother. Never, ever take for granted the fact that when you tell your feet to move, they do. My mum was diagnosed with Lewy Body Disease two years ago, having being diagnosed a few years earlier with Parkinson’s Disease. Both are degenerative neurological disorders that affect movement- but treatment of LBD is more complex and the disease tends to progress more quickly than Parkinson’s. Can you imagine what it is like not being able to move when you want?  Simple, everyday tasks become impossible and a chair becomes your prison when you cannot move for hours and hours on end. My mum inspires me to keep active. Since her initial diagnosis I started Couch to 5k and progressed up to Half Marathon distance and over the past 2 and a half years I have run 6 full marathons. It is for her I do it all… I can only imagine how hard it is to be in her shoes and I walk, run and move with gratitude that we still have her here with us,  as this disease puts her through a tough daily battle…. – so Happy Mother’s Day to My Fabulous Mammy  -Breeda Bracken. The first is my mum wearing my Dublin marathon medal from 2015 and the second is a photo of me on St Patrick’s Day last week, having completed a Half Marathon in Mullingar. Loving the challenge!”  Sinead Bracken, Athlone IT

My shoes were grumbling. They didn’t like being walked so rarely, they are walking shoes after all. They begged to be used more often. They threw themselves in front of my feet as I grabbed my car keys to drive to work. They were causing so much mayhem, I threatened to thrown them into the darkest recesses of the cupboard. But then spring arrived, and I began thinking of lying on the beach in the sun.  I looked at the scales and looked at my shoes and realised we could work together to achieve the beach-body I envisioned in my mind. New Fitbit on my wrist; trusty shoes on my feet; car keys left hanging on the hook; and determination in my heart, we set out on our mission. Now, my shoes are happy, they are walking about 12k steps a day, rain or shine.
And I too am happy, in my shoes. ” Maura, University College Cork

My baby girl and I went to stay in Mamó’s for St Patrick’s weekend. Mamó does Airbnb and had 2 guests staying from the US and my baby and I were the other 2 guests! Once I got the baby to bed, I checked my steps. The weather had been bad so I figured the result would be poor (that and the fact that I keep forgetting to have my phone on my person!) meant I was at around 1200 steps. I couldn’t possibly log 1200 steps to the School of Arts Education and MOVEMENT so something had to be done! Mamó had gone to the Indian takeaway so I figured I had maybe 15 or 20 minutes to up my steps. I searched “15 minute dance workout” on YouTube. YouTube returned “10 minute Bombay Jam”. I propped the computer up on the sofa and off I went. A high energy routine with wiggly hips and elaborate hand gestures. Perfect! Having applauded myself (as encouraged) for the first of the 2 routines, I was then trying to remember to hold the ‘C’ shape with my hand whilst leading with my head when I sensed a presence… you know that sort of feeling like there’s someone there watching… the friendly Airbnb guests had popped their heads around the sitting room door to say that they were heading out for food. [Inside voice: How long have those two been there?! Look at the state of me!] I decided to play it cool as though I knew they had been there all along. So I just continued to fix my hand/head combo while throwing a casual “see you guys later!” It’s all for the steps …and the reputation of the School of Arts Education and Movement!
Dr Annie Ó Breacháin, Dubliln City University

“I like to try and keep as active as I can but it’s hard to keep in all going, especially when final year woes have me wanting to fall back into bed and sleep for a week every time the going gets tough. The Marchathon has been my motivator to keep going this month. I need to keep stepping to make sure I don’t let my best friends down (We’re a competitive bunch!) and having the challenge of 10,000 steps is a great way of pushing me to get outside and walk! The car is feeling neglected, I’ve been to more gym classes then I can count and my trusty old running shoes are more worn then ever but I’m feeling happier and healthier! As final year comes to an end, the Marchathon has given my friends and I a final challenge to round off a great 4 years (and I’ve managed to convince everyone to join the gym with me too…. For the steps of course!!)” Órla ní hAodha, Waterford IT

During my Marchathon journey, purely by coincidence I ‘acquired’ a second dog.  She is a one year old cockapoo who needed re-homing, and I now know why!  She has dug craters in my garden, is systematically destroying my house and has reduced by much loved dog to a trembling mutt.  HOWEVER, she has forced me to increase my steps.  I am walking further, running regularly (after her), gaining energy and getting fitter. She has found her ‘forever home’ and I have found my walking companion. ” Margaret Kinsella, Dublin City University

My Marchathon adventure so far has been a thrilling and most enjoyable experience. It has got me really focused on becoming more active from day to day, notice any day (e.g. weekend) when I have not been hitting my target and has given me the necessary drive to improve my standards and hit targets on those days. I am also becoming more conscious of the different opportunities there are to be active on a daily basis (no matter how big or how small) as every step you take counts. There is also a great team spirit among my team as we drive each other on and strive forward to improve our activity levels each day. Our captain is also a fantastic leader who is continuously encouraging us and making sure we keep our standards to a high level. I am aiming to finish out the Marchathon Challenge as strong as possible (along with my team) and also aim to keep my activity levels high after the Challenge has ended. The Marchathon Challenge has been a most wonderful experience so far, it will improve my activity awareness and lifestyle in the future and I really hope there is another Marchathon challenge in 2018.” Padraic Briody, Trinity College Dublin
In my shoes are a pair of gel insoles I bought cheap that have saved me getting blisters for several thousand miles.
In my shoes are hiking socks that warm my feet and give me comfort as I step my way to fitness and health.
In my shoes are new soles, the third set (so far) that a local cobbler has fitted to my boots as I wear them down to nubs.
In my shoes are a number of small repairs I have effected as wear and tear has had its effect.
In my shoes are two feet that have travelled and traipsed the length and breath of Co. Galway looking for fun places to walk.
In my shoes are a strong, fit, healthy man who used to be none of those things until he bought and regularly used his first set of hiking boots.
In my shoes is a place I love to be.
And when the day is done and I am relaxing at home I love to be barefoot.
In or out of my shoes it matters not.
What matters is the shoes of the mind.
Where will my thoughts lead me next?
The thought precedes the deed.
What path will my life take?
I look forward to the journey as much as the destination.Pat Folan, GMIT