September 29th, 2011, was day one of my goal to walk every day for 100 consecutive days.
I almost made it.
On day 88, with a nagging cold, a fever and that blah feeling that you probably can relate to, my body cried out for sleep. So after 87 days without missing a walk of at least one mile, I relented and gave my body the rest it needed. I must admit that I had some feelings of guilt about not heading out that day, a very cold day here in Colorado, but in all reality sometimes it’s important to listen to our bodies and take some rest.
So my 100-day walking challenge turned into a 101-day walking challenge. I still feel good about getting out each day, or at times heading to the gym, and I’ve learned some things about walking and about myself. Here are some of those things.
I love to walk.
Going out for a walk every day confirmed for me, and I knew it would, that I love to walk. Absolutely love to walk. Why? There’s something magical about walking. I’m serious. As soon as I start moving my feet, I feel more alive. Maybe it can be attributed to something as simple as having more blood flowing to my cells, but I prefer to think that it’s more about each walk being a grand adventure.
We’re born to walk, literally. It’s programmed into our genes, and maybe our jeans. Our feet, legs and mind, from our very early days, are yearning to take that very first step. To stand upright and look out over our environment. To start moving. To start exploring.
Biomechanically, our bodies are designed to walk. Walking is our natural form of locomotion and if you’ve ever gone for a long walk you’ll know what I mean. We get into a rhythm. Our bodies start to feel fluid and strong. We start to feel like we could keep on keepin’ on. Any worries start to fade as we become more in tune with everything around us. Our creative juices start flowing. New environments bring new thoughts; thoughts that sometimes help us solve problems that we’ve struggled with for a while.
Sometimes I think I start taking life for granted, thinking that my time here is unlimited. That I will always have the chance to savor each moment, to head out for new adventures. I get used to waking up each morning, going through my day, winding down at night and starting all over the next day without really tapping into the magic that each day offers. Sometimes there is so much going on that I forget to look around me at everything that life provides. But when I lace up my shoes and once again head out for a walk, even if I’m heading down a trail I’ve walked dozens of times, it’s like a reset.
As I ponder my 100 days of walking, it seems to me that the act of walking brings back memories of our earliest times when we were nomads, wandering the planet with family and friends and living fully in each moment. Yes, life was hard at times, but we always had to be at our best. We were fully alive simply because we had to be. And to do anything at all, we had to walk. We had to walk to find food, shelter and fuel for our fires. But walking also took us to places of unbelievable beauty and allowed us to be a part of everything around us. My heart tells me that our strength today comes from our earlier times when we built a storehouse of experiences and memories from wandering great distances through mountains, deserts, forests and plains.
I think walking is so powerful for me because heading out for a walk now taps into those earlier memories and I feel alive again.
Setting Goals Makes a Difference
Setting a goal of walking every day kept me on track. I had a goal to shoot for. Prior to setting a goal of walking for 100 consecutive days, I walked a lot and nearly every day. But I did so when I “felt” I had time and energy, not because it was a scheduled part of my day.
There were times over the last 100 days when I would be exhausted at the end of the day but knew that I still had to get my walk in. Having the goal of walking every day, and being committed to my goal, took away the easy excuses I could always find if I was tired, busy or just wanted to go out for the evening.
If you’re starting a walking program, I would highly recommend that you set some short term and long term goals and then commit to them. You can modify your goals as you go along, but having firm goals will help you achieve your objectives. Goals give you something to work for, something to achieve.
The More You Walk the Easier it Gets
I know that seems like common sense but I add this to tell you that you can do more than you think. If you’re walking one mile a day now, I encourage you to let yourself go for longer periods. Go for two miles or five or ten. You don’t have to walk fast but challenge yourself to do longer walks on some days. Often it’s not our bodies that stop us from walking longer but our minds.
I need, and want, to walk more and take more walking trips.
My soul yearns to be outside. To wander this planet. Maybe I’ve never really adjusted to the fast pace of the modern world or maybe I’ve never really adjusted to living in an urban environment. Whatever the reason, I know I do best and feel the best when I’m out walking in the great outdoors. When I’m out and roaming, I feel alive, happy. There are times when I’m out walking that I just start to smile and times when I want to sing with joy. And I feel joyful just because I’m moving and feeling the wind or rain or sun or snow on my skin and touching the essence of life that is everywhere around me. Walking is truly good for the soul.
Well, after walking for 100 days I’m anxious to do even more walking. At Walking The World our 2012 trip schedule is now up, www.walkingtheworld.com, so I’ll be heading out on some walking trips in Tuscany, Costa Rica, Utah, Provence, Sicily and Switzerland to name a few. I invite you to join us!
Also, during the past 100 days, a number of people have asked how they could do their own walking challenge. So I’m in the process of putting together a 100-day walking challenge I’ll be inviting you to join in the not too distant future.
Thank you as always for your comments during the past few months. Lace up those shoes and head out for a walk and let me know if you have questions I can help with.