The Simple Joy of Going for a Walk

Here’s a value I’d like to instil in the kids: the simple but unfailing joy of going for a walk screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-11-38-18-pmoutside.

It seems overly simplistic, overly optimistic, easy to brush away as pointless. I know this because unless I’ve gone for a walk recently, I forget just how important it is. But I’m glad that I do know, that my parents valued (and still value) “going for a walk” as a worthwhile pastime and that they passed that value down to me.

I know people who hate to walk. I’m not sure why. (Of course with the exception of ability, assuming that walking is not painful, difficult or impossible for you.) If you are a healthy person with a way of walking comfortably and no health limitations (including mental health) to getting outside and going for a walk, I have to chalk up the dislike of walking to a lack of positive experience. Yes, walking is more work than taking the car. You don’t really seem to accomplish anything, when given a superficial glance. You cover ground, but unless you’re going on an errand, what for? It’s not even much of a workout by most people’s standards.

Maybe if we called it “urban hiking” (or, in the country, just hiking), it would have more legitimacy. I think at the end of the day walking is written off as … too pedestrian (forgive me). We have to walk to get around, at least some of the time, and any of us who are able to walk do so every day. Therefore, it can’t be special.

Like eating.

img_7307I disagree (about both eating and walking, but the issue of eating as a spiritual experience is a different post altogether).

Walking is rewarding for so many reasons, and you don’t need to do it regularly, go anywhere special, or own special shoes for it to be so. It offers that much sought after element of INSTANT GRATIFICATION.

I rarely come back from a walk and say, “Gee, I wish I hadn’t bothered. What a waste of time.” No, basically every time I return from a walk, I’m saying (or thinking), “Wow, I’m really glad I went. I feel so much better now. I didn’t really want to go but that was fantastic.”

Why? Going for a walk, whether it’s for five minutes or an hour or more, offers an unpredictable mix of some or all the following:

  • fresh air – which probably contains more oxygen than the air in your home, and if it’s chilly out, wakes you up.
  • conversation – a walk, like a drive, is a great time to talk to your kids, partner or friends. Even if you’re walking alone, you might find that you run into a neighbour and start chatting. Walking builds community.
  • discovery – finding new amazing things in your neighbourhood
  • exercise – you might even be inspired to work out more!
  • energy
  • inspiration – it’s amazing how getting outside and being active can clear your mind. If there is a problem or project you’re stuck on, a walk can get the gears moving smoothly and bring ideas, solutions and inspiration.
  • bonding – maybe a friend or family member will want to join you!

I’d be well-served taking my own advice – I haven’t been going on many walks lately. What could we all be doing tomorrow to feel just a bit better in general? Going for a walk!

screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-11-46-03-pm

Running: a Love Letter

Dear Running,

I’m writing to apologize, and to say that I’m so happy we’ve found that spark again.

I know it’s been a journey. And I’m glad you’ve stuck by me, even when it probably seemed like I was abandoning you. I like to think that you’re wiser than I am and that you always knew we’d reconcile. And I’m sorry to relate that there were times I contemplated removing you from my profiles and bios because keeping your name there as part of what identifies me felt like it was becoming a lie. Continue reading

Why I’m Loving DailyMile Again

I’ve used DailyMile to track my runs since I started running in 2009. I started with the Couch to 5K program (also available in a great app) and had DailyMile recommended to me by the same friends who had recommended that. For years, it was just a website. For the first year or two, I would log on when I got home, plot my run on the map and find out how far I had gone. The mystery! Now it sounds a bit absurd (oh how quickly we adapt), but at the time it was great. I was just thankful the map was so accurate.

Then, I got a newer phone. I searched for a DailyMile app to no avail. Continue reading

Tonight I Ran Instead of Writing

Well, at least when I was done I had a big breakthrough on the rewrite of my novel, so I’m excited about that. The thing about running (or exercise in general) is that it’s necessary for inspiration and brain function, and yet tonight it used up my writing time. How does one find time to run *and* write?

Day 7 of 28 Days to Simplify My Life a la Pinterest: Move Every 45 Minutes

Today, via Buzzfeed, we have “Get up every 45 minutes and move around. When you sit back down you will feel greatly re-energized.”

This is from the post 23 Ingenious Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder. Not bad. I do agree that it’s a good idea to get up and move periodically if you have a desk job. I only have a desk job 1-2 days per week, but on those days I do need to remember to move in some way at least once an hour. In fact, some days at work, I get up and hula hoop for five minutes every hour. That’s fun! I’m lucky enough to work in an office in a heritage building, with wood floors, high ceilings and large classrooms in which to hoop.

Hula hoop... check!

Hula hoop… check!

I went into work today intending to get up and move every 45 minutes. But then I noticed that between coffee trips, bathroom trips, walking up to the store front to check a product, and searching for my boss to have a quick chat, I was moving far more! I got up and walked around at least every half hour. I do think it’s important to get up and move, and it does help, but this tip didn’t change anything I was already doing. Oh well. It could still be useful for someone else! Maybe try hooping at work!

Original pin is here.

And once again, the dedicated Pinterest board for this series.

I’m Running Again (!)

I’ve waffled on whether to write a post about running, as this isn’t a fitness blog. However, running is one of my loves, and here is my rationale for including it as a topic on an “unschooling, unjobbing” blog: this blog is about simplicity, and simple solutions to life’s big questions. Going with the flow. Loving what you have, enjoying your surroundings, doing what just makes sense instead of striving to live up to someone else’s standards, or getting in over your head.

Running is all those things. With a pair of running shoes (or barefoot, except not in a Canadian winter), you can get in a workout, a therapy session, some stress release no matter where you are. No special equipment required. It’s affordable, it’s simple, and it’s good for you. And really – Neko is already in love with running, and we count it as a large part of our “unschooling phys. ed.” She ran the Calgary Kids Marathon last year and will again this year. It makes me so happy and proud to see her learning a love of running at such an early age, as I know it’s a love that will serve her for the rest of her life.

Anyway, I run. Sometimes. I also go on long breaks from running. I have only been running for about two years. I mean, I did run track a bit in junior high and high school, but never for pleasure. I had tried to get back into it a few times throughout my 20s, but it felt awful. Then a friend told me about the Cool Running Couch to 5K program. I downloaded the iPod app (which is awesome!) and took a whole… I don’t know… five months (?) to complete it. It’s supposed to be eight weeks, I believe. But I finished it, and at the end, I could run 5K without stopping – and it felt awesome!

Since then, I’ve run on a regular basis, most of the time. However, during especially busy times, I take breaks… and getting back to it after a break of a month or more is HARD. This is what I’m doing right now. I hadn’t run since late October, and right after Christmas, when all the craziness of the season was over, I was determined to get back to it. The first run out was horrid. The second was even worse. I felt defeated. However, something very important (and obvious) dawned on me on that second run – this is why I can’t quit! I can’t take so much time off, because coming back hurts! Even running a few kilometers a week, taking an hour or less out of my entire week, would keep me conditioned – and of course, help me in myriad other ways as well.

The past two weeks, I’ve learned about the importance of icing muscles after a hard run, stretching, not pushing myself too hard, running through the pain (not injuries!) to break up the lactic acid, and taking walk breaks as needed. Also, positive self talk. It’s amazing how repeating “You’re strong, you’re fast, you’re doing this, you’ve come so far,” etc, in your head can get you through that last kilometer. But I’m up to 25-27 minutes of running and just over 4 km. By the end of this week I should be up to 30 minutes, and nearly 5 km.

I’ve decided to set monthly goals and rewards for myself all this year. In January, my goal is to run 60 km. My thinking was that if I run 5K, three times a week, that would be 60 km… Now to reach 5K! It’s going to take a lot more runs at 3-4K per run! Still achievable, though. My reward for reaching 60 km is to go out dancing with friends. Yes, it’s something I would do normally, but I haven’t actually gone dancing in months, so at this point it would be a fun reward. And healthy! And cheap.

In general, I like to keep my fitness life simple. I feel like running and yoga plus pushups (and some other strength moves mixed in) is the perfect regimen, at least for me. I really enjoy adding stairs every week or two as well. There is a set of 167 steps in Sunnyside here in Calgary, and ten sets of those is a great workout for the quads and butt! One of the best parts is that Neko and I can go for runs up to 1K together, and do yoga together (I recommend the YogaKids DVDs)!