this too
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
  Extra miles

I'm walking a thousand miles in 2006 - that's just under 20 miles a week. Most of this will be by walking 2 miles each way of my daily weekday commute.

Week 3
Miles walked: 30.5 (target: 20)
Total walked: 73 (target: 60)
Miles remaining: 927

This was an atypical week. A welcome sunny weekend, the first for ages, lured me out for long walks on Saturday and Sunday, making up for the two weekdays when I only walked 2 of the planned 4 miles. I need to get ahead now. I worry about hot weather and my inability to walk then. But this isn't meant to be an extra source of worry. Hold the goal lightly; be motivated, but not fixated.

I like the rhythm, the pavement passing under my feet. It gets easier, the 2 miles morning and evening seem shorter. Some mornings, though, I feel tired, slowed by the steep trudge out of the Waterloo underpass and onto the bridge.

There's no scope for varying my route - only one direct road from Elephant to the river. So it grows in a way familiar - the shops, the office and college facades, the cracks and bumps in the pavement surface, the shapes of things and the shapes between things. Never, in the fluctuating, fast-paced blur of the city, do I see the same people twice. No one sees me pass or says Good Morning. I make no impression; the impression made on me is shallow.

It feels good to walk fast, take in energy, take on pace. Dave, Loren and Zinnia wrote comments last week about the value and pleasure too of slow and meditative walking. Oh yes, I like to dawdle, dawdled on Sunday in the woods, sensing the scurrying and flapping of crowds of creatures in the undergrowth on a briefly warmer day and the soft, drying mud under my feet, blinking up at the blue-black trees against the pink, misty sky. And I'm familiar with walking meditation - the studied, formal kind, as practised in the zendo and the monastery cloister, and its less formal cousin, as practised in the gardens at Gaia House. The city-centre streets are not for this, I feel. And the aging, overweight and office-bound like me do need some aerobic exercise. But it was a good reminder to return, whatever the speed, to the body and the breath, not always to the goal. This step. Now. And the next.
Go well, Jean! Btw - do you own a pedometer? I think I need to get one as I keep guessing how far I've gone (and probably over-estimating of course). But I'm not sure how counting steps translates into miles walked or run...
Jean, I love walking the same route and becoming familiar with the sights along the way. My life has always been so full and intense that it gave me a consistency that I needed. I read your beautiful post and long to get back into a walking routine like I had in Buffalo. Now I use my treadmill. But you are inspiring me ... soon, I tell you ... soon ... I'll be back "out there!"
Keep going Jean! I've always walked a lot in London and there's no question about it - it does make a difference to my level of fitness. I notice it when I have to stop temporarily for illness, work pressure, whatever ...

In the hot weather, I find early mornings and late evenings are OK generally, and of course it will be light then, but as you say, it is not to be obsessed over. :-)
Mary, I've always walked a lot too, but have never given myself a goal before and I think it will help me to keep it up.

Tamar, yes, walking in Philadelphia could be a nice part of buildng your relationship with your area and with the city, I think. Much as I don't love London, I feel much better about it when I'm out there walking than when I'm squashed in a bus or tube.

Anna, I have a pedometer which measures miles as well as steps. They are cheap - tiny things that clip to your belt. I found I'd been somewhat underestimating how far I walked.
Good for you! I walk a lot here where I live and can vary my route, but after doing it for years I still pass the same scenes over and over again. But there's always something a little different, especially as the seasons change.

Lovely description here, Jean. Hope the walking helps clear your head and lighten your heart.
Wonderful, Jean, good for you!

I enjoy walking the same routes, trying to find what's new. New seasons, little things done differently with the buildings, etc. Or telling myself stories about the things I see. I'm amazed you don't begin to recognize anyone.
An urban hiker here of many years, I love walking in cities. The architecture, the different neighbourhoods, the shops, and reading people, clothes, ages, shapes, ways of moving, emotional auras. Summers are my best time, though. 35Celsius and I'm in heaven, often on 3-5 hour city walks! I enjoy the feel of the earth coming up through the dense overlay of the city, and perhaps in the heat of the summer I feel it best.

I love reading about your walking, 1000 miles is only the beginning! {Or the middle somewhere :o)
Interesting Jean - maybe I am *underestimating* the length of the walk/run. It would give me a boost to know I was doing more than I thought -so I'll get one.
Anna and Jean - I use a pedometer that measures steps and miles or kilometers.

I wore it round the house one day after reading a fitness article in the newspaper - they claimed that 10,000 steps per day was minimum to maintain fitness ... eek, that five miles

did you notice my finger flub today over at 100 Days? aaaarrgh
Janice, yes, I was flattered to have evidently entered your subconscious!
Way to go, Jean! :-)

I have a step-counting pedometer, but I keep forgetting to wear it! I agree with what Brenda said: urban hiking is wonderful. And as much as I like slow, meditative strolling, there's something to be said, too, for a good heart-pounder.
Glad it's going well :-))
Already well ahead of target already! Good for you.

Never, in the fluctuating, fast-paced blur of the city, do I see the same people twice. No one sees me pass or says Good Morning. I make no impression; the impression made on me is shallow.

This will change: didn't you have "nodding acquaintances" with people on buses and the Tube, who rode the same route at the same time every day? Habitual walkers are just as predictable, you will notice them - and they you.

"The shapes of things and the shapes between things" is also a well-turned phrase.
Richard Cohen sent me here to get inspired about walking, which I did. Thanks, Jean.
The best part about large cities would be the walking. Otherwise, the smothering, non-private effect of too many people can get to you. Let's go walking baby!
Ah, Jean, bravo!! I'm behind in my blog reading you can see, but I'm keeping up with my miles!

How I measure my miles. At home, walking south of town, there are cross roadsx nearly every mile, and if not, there are survey markers in the roadbed or in the ditch. Away from home, when I know I'm doing a 15 minute mile pace or better, an hour is four miles, etc. It's close enough for a poet!

Keep 'er going!
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