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Back in September, as the cool autumn breezes began to hint at the impending Wisconsin winter, I sat down and started brainstorming some ideas of things to keep me busy once the weather turned cold. Truth be told, I’m a complete winter wussy. After Christmas, I’d just as soon skip over January through March and jump right to spring.
Every fall, I try to line up some goals to achieve throughout the winter months to keep me focused on the positive. (And ward off the winter blues.) And so it was that in late September I found myself sitting at my desk twiddling my thumbs and trying to come up with a list of things to do this fall and winter beyond my regular routine of working. I thought to myself, what do I really love doing? What do I do when I want to de-stress and take my mind off of a problem? What infuses me with energy even when I feel like I’m dragging? And the answer was clear.
My parents instilled a love of walking in both my sister and me when we were growing up. On pretty much any night when it wasn’t freezing cold or pitch dark, we’d go for a family walk around the neighborhood. It was a wonderful way to reconnect with each other after a busy day (and, I now realize, a good stress reliever for my parents, who were likely worn out after a full day raising two active girls!).
As I grew up, I carried that love of walking with me into adulthood. When I’m feeling stressed, worn out, tired, or just brain-dead, nothing is more rejuvenating than a brisk walk to get the blood flowing.
So I decided to set a goal: to walk every day for one year. It’s a challenge I call Walk 365.
In order to keep the “challenging” part in the challenge, I set a few rules:
- In order to qualify, the walk should preferably be at least 2 miles long. (Rare exceptions are okay. Like this week when I was under the weather and barely managed a quickie around the neighborhood.)
- There is no excuse for not walking. Unless I’m very ill, injured, or there’s some major life interference that cannot be avoided, the daily walk must happen!
- Walks can happen anywhere, anytime (including on a treadmill if necessary, although not preferred).
- Walks can’t be a “stand in” for days of my regular exercise routine (strength training, yoga, sprint sessions, running, etc.). They are in addition to.
So, how am I doing?
Well, I haven’t missed a day yet. And let me tell you, I’m getting kind of addicted to this whole walking thing. It’s one of the things I most look forward to in my day. Charles Dickens said, “If I could not walk far and fast, I think I should just explode and perish.” He’s being a bit of a drama king, but I guess I can relate. I’ve grown so used to walking these past few months that I now believe my days would feel a little empty without it.
I can already tell that the walking project is going to help me with my seasonal blues. Emotionally and mentally, this challenge has already stimulated and uplifted me in ways that I never thought possible.
Just for fun, I’m keeping a mileage and time log. So far, I’ve walked over 120 miles for a total of 35+ hours. Almost all of the walks have been in the great outdoors, except for a few on the treadmill when I caved and couldn’t brave the autumn chill. At this rate, by the completion of this challenge there’s a good possibility I could have walked over 1000 miles. That prospect alone is motivation enough to keep me going.
I’d love for you to join me in your version of Walk 365. Maybe it’s a commitment to walking every day, or maybe it’s just an effort to get out 3 or 4 days a week. Whatever it may be, I can honestly tell you that you won’t regret it. Walking feeds the soul as much as the body. Over 120 miles and counting and I don’t regret a single step.
42 days down, 323 to go.
(Stay tuned for more updates!)