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Liz O’Riordan, founder of the Breast Surgeon with Breast Cancer blog

Eight top tips to help you prepare for your Pink Ribbonwalk

Liz O’Riordan, founder of the Breast Surgeon with Breast Cancer blog, tells us how she stayed active during treatment and shares her Pink Ribbonwalk training tips.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2015 at the age of 40, while I was working as a consultant breast surgeon in Ipswich. I found it incredibly hard to accept the fact that I had breast cancer, mainly because I was so fit and active. I had cycled 100 miles the weekend before my diagnosis – how could I have breast cancer?

I had taken up cycling about five years ago after my husband bought a bike. Over time, my love of cycling led to triathlons, and I was always looking out for the next big challenge.

All that changed when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Within a week I had started chemotherapy, and had to accept that my active lifestyle would be dramatically reduced for a while. I challenged myself to walk for 30 minutes every day during chemotherapy, and I still walk every day. I had a lovely neighbour who would walk with me first thing in the morning before she took her children to school, and I then felt that I had earned the right to spend the rest of the day on the sofa recovering.

I’m now coming to the end of radiotherapy, after a mastectomy and reconstruction, and it’s so nice to have a little more energy again. I’ve challenged myself to do the Pink Ribbon Walk in Derbyshire this summer, so I can give something back to Breast Cancer Care who have given me so much support. Also, I can walk in Mr Darcy’s (aka Colin Firth) footsteps, as part of Pride and Prejudice was filmed at Chatsworth House. Will anyone notice if I go for a swim in the lake?

My Pink Ribbon Walkwalk training tips

Here are a few tips to help you get ready for the 5, 10 or even the full 20 mile walk, as it can seem very daunting when you first step outside the front door.

1. Make sure you have decent trainers

You’ll need decent trainers (or possibly walking boots for the more rural courses) that have been broken in before the walk. Don’t wear anything new on the day of your walk, in case you get blisters.

2. A supportive bra is also a must

Consider a sports bra, as these are made from wicking fabrics to help dry the sweat, and don’t have underwires that can rub.

3. Plan to walk for a length of time, not a distance

Start off with 30 minutes, and set a timer on your phone for 15 minutes. When it beeps, simply turn around and walk back. This is much easier than trying to figure out a route that is a certain number of miles long. There are several apps for your phone such as Strava and Map My Walk which can help you keep track of the distance and time you’re walking for.

4. Try to walk two to three times a week

Gradually increase the time of one of the walks. You shouldn’t need food or drink for any walk less than an hour, but for longer walks, it’s worth carry a small rucksack with a bottle of water and some jelly babies or flapjacks to keep you going. 

5. You don’t need to walk the full distance beforehand

The key thing is to get used to walking for a couple of hours on a regular basis. The 5 mile walk should take you 2 hours, as most people can cover 3 miles in an hour.

6. Look for local walking groups to join

Join a local walking group or ask friends on Facebook or Twitter if they want to meet you for a walk, with the promise of tea and cake afterwards.

7. Listen to podcasts

Walking by yourself can be quite boring. I listened to podcasts to keep me going. I got hooked on Desert Island Discs, as they are only 30 minutes long, and the time would fly by. I’d find myself walking for another half an hour, just so I could listen to the next person’s story.

8. Be sensible and safe 

Make sure you have a fully charged phone, your house keys, a small amount of money and a waterproof, just in case. I’ve been known to leave the house with none of the above, thanks to chemo brain! 

Finally, good luck with your training, and come and say, 'Hi' if you see me at Chatsworth.


Join the Pink Ribbon Walk

Ready to make a difference and create marvelous memories? Sign up for a Pink Ribbon Walk today and help support women with breast cancer. It’s more than just a day out; it’s a step towards making a lasting impact.

Sign up for the Pink Ribbon walk

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