Walking

My new morning routine.

Canal
A shot looking west up the canal from the first bridge.

Second Bridge
The second bridge is exactly 1.3 miles from my RV.

Apple Orchard
I walk for about a half mile alongside this apple orchard. This morning, I saw three woodchucks in rocks like these along the canal edge.

Last week, I began walking regularly. It’s part — the only part, I should admit — of an exercise regime. I know it’s not much, but it’s more than I was doing the week before.

I usually get out between 6:30 and 7:00 AM, when it’s still nice and cool. I’m back within 45 minutes.

I should be clear here: I don’t go for a short stroll. I walk 2.6 miles at an average speed of 3.6 miles per hour. How do I know this so precisely? Simple: I monitor my progress using the trip computer on my handheld GPS.

(While other people are relying on a touch-screen GPS with computerized voice to find their way around town, I use my GPSes for things I can’t easily do on my own. But let’s not go there, huh? That’s fodder for a whole other blog post.)

I took the photos you see here on this morning’s walk. The pauses brought my average speed down to 3.3 miles per hour.

I start at my RV at Colockum Ridge Golf Course. I cut through the golf cart staging area and past the maintenance shed. That puts me on a two-track gravel road between a narrow drainage ditch full of clear-running water and the golf course. I walk about .3 miles south, then make a right onto another gravel road that runs along the north side of a canal. If I’m lazy, I cross the canal at the first bridge and come back along the other side for a 1.2 mile walk. But if I’m serious about exercise, I continue to the second bridge. The whole time, I’m walking alongside the golf course and then the 55+ trailer community beyond it. When I cross the second bridge, I walk back along the south side of the canal with an apple orchard and then an alfalfa field on my right. I cross back over the first bridge and retrace my route back to my RV.

Here’s what it looks like in satellite view on Google Maps:
My Walk

Alfalfa Bales
These aren’t the little wimpy alfalfa bales we bought for our horses. These probably weigh 500 pounds each and stand nearly as tall as me.

Canal and Golf Course
A view of the golf course from the opposite side of the canal.

I really enjoy the scenery. I love the changes in the farmland. Yesterday, the alfalfa was cut and piled. Today it was baled. The apples are ripening. Some farm equipment off in the distance was harvesting soybeans or something. The groundhogs are kind of cute.

3.6 miles per hour is a good walking pace. It’s probably the pace I used regularly when I walked the streets of New York. If you don’t walk fast in Manhattan, you get run over by other pedestrians or messengers on bikes or guys pushing racks of clothing. (I spent a bunch of time in the garment district one summer.) I’d like to get my walking speed up to 4 miles per hour, but it would likely kill me.

I listen to music when I walk. I have a little iPad shuffle and keep it stocked with an ever-changing mix of my favorite music. I discovered the other day that my walking pace is at the same tempo as Paul Simon’s “Late in the Evening.” I have long legs so I have long strides. I feel it in my knees and hips.

When I get back to the trailer, I’m sweating like a pig. (Do pigs really sweat?) I force myself to drink water or vitamin water before jumping in the shower. When I’m that hot and sweaty, the shower feels like heaven and makes the walk worthwhile. Afterwards, I have breakfast: high fiber cereal with fresh berries and low-fat milk. I have coffee before the walk — I am human, after all.

According to the Walking Calories Calculator on About.com, I burn at least 259 calories each time I do my walk. That’s not very much, but it is better than nothing. I’m hoping the regular brisk walk will also help me recover some of my muscle tone, which is quickly melting away.

I’m middle-aged now, and I’m not going down without a fight.

2 thoughts on “Walking

  1. I think too often we set up poor expectations and priorities in exercise. ‘Competitive’ goals discourage many people and defeat the purpose when they feel guilty for missing a day or not exercising long / far enough. It’s always looking at failure instead of success.

    I like your approach that ‘some is better than none’. It’s the approach I use too, to keep myself going. It works, too.

    I regard every little bit of exercise as being helpful, and every good choice in food as better than a bad choice.

    I can often make small successes, such as walking up stairs instead of taking the lift, or eating an apple instead of a biscuit. I easily choose to do these because it’s just a little bit, not some huge goal.

    And that way I stay on track, rather than thinking ‘I can’t do this’ and abandoning it.

    I see every bike ride I go on, every extra bit of walking, every wise food choice as a form of putting ‘health money’ in the bank. And every bit of exercise contributes to my fitness and makes it easier the next time.

    Because I live at the top of a hill my bike rides usually end with an uphill grind. I have to stop and rest *very* frequently. My goal is one day to make it all the way without stopping, but meanwhile I stop as often as I need. I figure that tomorrow I’ll be able to bike a few metres further before I stop. Today 100 rest pauses; tomorrow 99.

    Do you think you’ll continue to walk the same track every day or will you reverse direction or find another track for variety?

  2. @Miraz Jordan
    I agree that every little bit of exercise helps. Park in the farthest spot at the supermarket or mall, take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator. People don’t see how lazy they’re getting until it’s too late and they have to backtrack to get their health back.

    I’ll likely follow the same track every day while I’m here — another 2 weeks or so. The canal road is an easy walk and the scenery is pleasant. My other option is to walk alongside one of two very busy roads. I’m not interested in that.

    When I relocate for 3-4 weeks to Wenatchee Heights, I’ll be in a very hilly area. I’m wondering what kind of path I can make for myself in the orchard, walking among the cherry trees. I don’t do well uphill at all.

    I’m thinking that as I continue to lose weight, walking, biking, and climbing hills should come easier. After all, I’ll be carrying a lot less weight with me. But what I really look forward to is my knees not hurting. I don’t know how bad the arthritis has gotten since my last knee X-ray 20 years ago, but I really don’t want new knees yet.

What do you think?