1000 Days Of Walking
This week, I celebrate a major milestone.
This Friday, I will have walked for 1,000* consecutive days for 30 minutes every day.
One THOUSAND days.
And yet, here I am.
Please read to the end for a challenge / invitation I’d love for you to join me in doing this upcoming Friday.
*Read more about what happened on day 50 here.
For those not familiar with this journey, it was one that had an unintentional beginning. I walked one day for 30 minutes, then did so the day after. And the day after that. I had no intentions of turning it into a “project” - certainly not something that lasted this long.
Once I had already made it that far, I just kept walking …. because, why not?
And now, two and a half years later, I reach a milestone I would have never expected to come about.
I had - and still have - intentions of writing a book on everything I’ve learned through this journey, answers to questions I’m frequently asked, and inspiration to start your own -ish journey (whatever it may look like).
I’ve been working for several months on this book - but writing isn’t my full-time gig. I’d hoped to have it done by this week, but am accepting that that just isn’t going to happen.
Until the point that I’m able to bring it to you in full form, I thought I’d offer you a few tips and insights from the upcoming book:
4 Commonly Asked Questions
Every single day? How do you DO it?
Honestly, I have no idea. It’s just what I do, the same as how a parent wakes in the middle of the night and sleepwalks to comfort their child or a how a marathon runner finishes those last few miles on nothing but pain and dreams of the finish line.
If you would have asked me this question when I was 5 or 15 days in, I would have given you the same answer I do today: I just get up every day and walk. Of course, there are far more practical challenges to it. On days where I have a full day of activities, I have to plan ahead to wake 45 minutes early. On days where I know it will be too rainy / icy to walk outside, I have to plan for time on the treadmill or a trip to the mall.
And then there’s the mindset, which is where most people struggle. Marking the days on the calendar certainly helps overcome some internal debate, as I hate to see a missed day glaring at me from the calendar. There’s a lot more to the psychology of it all (not relying on willpower alone, changing the perspective on how you feel about the challenge, etc), but that’s a book in and of itself. As much as I’d like to offer a magic formula for making this happen, it really is as simple (challenging / annoying / basic) as putting one foot in front of the other for 30 minutes every 24 hours.
What do you do when it is raining / cold / hot / dark?
I walk. Really. I’ve walked in the rain, I’ve walked in snow (and on ice, though I highly discourage that), in temperatures over 100 degrees F, and actually walk most mornings in the dark under the stars.
If the outdoor conditions truly are prohibitive of activity (or I’m just not feeling up to the challenge), I’ll use our treadmill (which we are fortunate to have but I really, really dislike using) or head to the mall to suck up my pride and become a mall-walker.
Often, I’ve found that the most enjoyable walks are the ones where these environmental challenges present themselves. Rain on your face feels innocently delightful. The hiss of a soft falling snow is deeply peaceful. Walking under the moonlight (or by the beam of a flashlight) causes a heightened awareness of all around me.
I will note: I have been extremely fortunate for these past thousand days to not have had a physical injury that truly prevented me from walking. I’ve had a pulled muscle, a fever, and various illnesses, but I’ve still been able to walk very slowly on those days. I feel the need to include this: For anyone who chooses this journey and finds themselves physically unable to walk, I’ve written and will write more about embracing the “ - ish “ — the non-perfections, the attempts, the almosts. It’s OK.
Do you always go alone?
Nope. I prefer to go alone most of the time because my walks are my meditative time when I’m able to let my thoughts run wild and then settle into coherent (and sometimes enlightening) patterns. These walks are when I find my silence, my breath.
But my walks are also when I’ve found beautiful company and conversation. I’ve done walks with my husband, my kids, friends, and strangers (during scheduled events). It just depends on the day.
Why not longer / shorter / for a specific distance? This length is almost by accident. Remember, I didn’t start off aiming to make this a project. On day one, I walked for 30 minutes. I then did the same on the next day. That is the practice that stuck.
When I turned 40, I thought about honoring that transition by switching to a 40-minute daily walk. However, I find that 30 minutes works perfectly into almost any schedule that I have on any random day, so for now, I’m sticking with it. This isn’t to say I don’t walk for longer if the opportunity presents itself. I’ve walked for an hour or even two on several occasions. But maintaining that minimum of 30 minutes seems to be my happy space.
As far as distance? That’s a practical nightmare. I don’t want to walk for “3 miles every day” simply because I’d have trouble tracking that. I could map a route in my neighborhood, but I often walk elsewhere - a trail, the mall (as I mentioned), or a completely unfamiliar combination of streets when I travel. It’s far easier to walk for 30 minutes than to have to use GPS to navigate a certain distance.
4 Apply-It-When-and-Where-You-Need-It Lessons
These are lessons that I’ve learned along my walking journey. Many of them can be applied in much broader circumstances, however. Take them as you need them.
Wherever you are, you are already here. In the case of a walking journey, HERE is the starting point.
I’m often asked where I walk - where I start and end. I recall one day that I was on the way home with my family, and I suddenly remembered that I hadn’t yet done my walk.
Instead of waiting until we got home to head back out, I decided that now was a good of a time as any. Around 3 miles from our house, my husband dropped me (and my daughter) off, and we walked the rest of the way home. There we were - already at the starting point of the walk I knew I needed to take.
I just had to see the road before me a bit differently.
Learning To Let Go:
I've had the best walks planned in my mind (perfect scenery, route, company, etc) ... only to have those plans changed by weather or schedules or various external circumstances. Thunder arrives when I'd been planning a sunrise walk; my child falls ill when I'd been planning to drive somewhere for a hike. Sometimes I push through...other times, I adjust. (A recent pulled muscle led to very slow walks although my mind was craving a jog.)
It is a very valuable and ongoing lesson...learning when to push through and when to be able to let go of plans.
The shape of my body when I walk makes a difference in how I feel while I’m walking. I've noticed that when I've been leaning forward, shoulders hunched, focused on getting there - that a simple straightening / lifting / rolling shoulders slightly up and back opens everything - mind and body. I can BREATHE again.
The sky changes quickly:
Sunsets and sunrises appear and fade much quicker than I once realized. So many other things arise and disappear just as quickly. Don't miss out on experiencing them.
For those so inspired, I offer you a challenge / invitation.
This Friday (October 12, 2018), I invite you to join me on a 30 minute walk … wherever you are in the world and however that walk fits into your day.
This does not need to be the start of a journey for you - or it can be day one of many-ish days for you as well. This is simply a way to incorporate a bit of healthy movement into your day and to join me in celebrating my own journey.
I’d also love if you would share your story of your walk (and a photo, if so willing!) on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #walk365ish
I’ll be checking every single post and cheering you on!
May you enjoy your journey - wherever it takes you, and however you walk / run / crawl / fly / skip / drive to move along it.