I’ve been inspired by Tom Montag, The Middlewesterner. Well, I’m usually inspired by Tom – by his writing and his love of home. But this time I was inspired by his exercise programme. He and his marathon-runner daughter, Jess, who walked a marathon together last year, had a brilliantly motivating idea. They’ve made a commitment to walking (Tom) or running (Jess) one thousand miles in 2006.
That’s just less than 20 miles a week, and it got me thinking. For several months now I’ve been aiming to walk some of the way to and from work each day. From Elephant and Castle , the concrete-jungle roundabout at the South-Eastern edge of Central London, to my office just North of Waterloo Bridge (worth waiting if this takes a minute to download) is about 2 miles each way. In practice, I’ve only been walking it a couple of times a week. But, hey: 4 miles a day, 5 days a week, that’s… Yes, I could very feasibly do one thousand miles in a year! There’ll surely be days when I don’t walk it both ways, because I’m ill or late or have a lot to carry. But there’ll be all the weekends, when I also walk a lot, since I don’t have a car. I COULD DO THIS.
So on my return to work after the long Christmas/New Year holiday, I began. Stats so far (to be updated weekly):
Week 1 miles walked: 18 (target: 20) miles remaining: 982
Week 2 miles walked: 24.5 total walked: 42.5 (target: 40) miles remaining: 957.5
I was tired and took a day off from walking on Sunday. I missed it. I feel my body falling into the rhythm, just as it falls into the stillness of meditation.
I’m slow! Two miles take me 35 minutes. But it was even slower when I started two weeks ago. I’d rather be walking on quiet open roads, like Tom. But London is a good city for walking – decent pavements everywhere, though much time is spent waiting at crossing lights. So, what with the walking and the meditation and the diet, it’s all rampant self-improvement. This gives me pause. After all, meditation, my primary commitment, is about self-acceptance, not self-improvement; being present, not constantly aspiring; believing that I’m fine as I am and everything’s fine as it is, and thus, paradoxically, creating space for movement as well as for stillness. The potential for self-absorption is alarming also. I hope awareness of these contradictions will mitigate them. I hope this is about feeling better - not different, not fixated on the future, but more present and more me; not more in-turned, but lighter and more available to life. We’ll see. I hope I can do this. One thousand miles in 2006.
¶ 1:42 pm
Oh, my - this is terrific. You CAN do it! If a big, overweight grumble-bear like me can do it, you can too. It's not the walking that's the hard part, it's the getting ready to walk. I try not to think about it til I'm about a mile and a half down the road, and by then it feels pretty good. I hope you keep reporting your progress here.
Hooray!!! Just as Tom said, you CAN do it...heck, you already are!
And you *are* fine as you are...which is why improving is necessary. Oh, yes, I know...that sounds like a contradiction, but it's not.
When you realize you're a complete & wonderful creature (perfect, actually), you realize you should treat yourself that way. So the improvements are just your actions catching up with your realization: "I'm fine just as I am...so I should take better care of myself!"
This is very admirable. For me, walking is more pleasure than work, but as Tom says, it's the getting going part that can be the challenge. I think winter is the best time to start, because the cold air is so clean and envigorating. It's in the middle of a hot, humid summer that I become house-bound.
Don't knock slow walking. I think it's virtually as good for you as walking fast, as long as you cover the same amount of ground. And you see so much more when you take your time.
Yes. This is great. Inspiring, actually. It's something I could aim for. I love the idea of your sharing your progress with us, as long as it doesn't become too burdensome for you. Lots to think about here including the notion of self-improvement versus self acceptance ... hm ...
Walking a thousand miles, something beautiful to that, like the thousand petalled lotus opening in the consciousness. I love walking, and really feel it if I haven't had a 2 or 3 hour walk in a week. I had no idea what a great form of excercise it is until I went dancing once after a long hiatus and discovered I had as much energy and stamina as if I danced regularly and knew it could only be due to the walking. Kudos to you, enjoy every step... xo
I love walking too. Have you discovered walking meditation? If not, there's some good info here http://www.wildmind.org/meditation/walking/overview.html. Difficult in London traffic perhaps, especially at first, but maybe feasible at weekends. I enjoy walking meditation very much (although I don't do it often enough, but hey, let's not dwell on that!) and I think it might provide a useful link for you between self-acceptance and self-improvement. And I find it's not so self-absorbing as the sitting down kind - for me it enhances my awareness of my self in the world, rather than my self inside me.