Thought I might end up not getting a walking today, but managed to squeeze one in at the end of the day with my buddy Manfred. Walked just under six kilometers. It would have been a better walk had we not been eaten alive by the freakin’ mosquitoes!
You don’t need much to walk. Pretty much a working pair of legs and some feet (and sometimes not even that – there are some amazing folks out there).
Even so, you may want to add a few things. Shoes are pretty important. It wasn’t until I started putting in six or more kilometers of walking each day that I realized just how important that good shoes really are. You don’t have to break the bank, but make sure they fit. No, really, make sure they fit. None of this “that’s close enough” stuff. The shoe store will have your size. Also, make sure they have proper support. Walking a bit in the mall is one thing, but walking ten kilometers can be uncomfortable when you have little to no padding between you and the pavement. I have really wide feet and have been guilty of the “fits close enough” thing when it came to shoe buying until recently. I actually had a shoe store person help me, measure my foot with that foot measuring thing (a Brannock device), and ended up with a pair of shoes that fit, had proper padding and actually designed for walking, for about $70 – not too bad.
Oh, remember when I said to get shoes that really fit? Do it! I know you’re thinking “Whatever, close enough is good enough,” but stop – I swear, shoes that fit are amazingly important.
You’re probably going to sweat. Walking can make you do that. Make sure you dress properly. Wear shorts, if the temperature allows for it, or a breathable pair of track pants. I tried walking in sweats a few times and let’s just say that they can really live up to their name. I’m talking an uncomfortable, sweaty, heavy, hot pant shaped mess, wrapped around your lower half, that you are walking in. They’re probably fine when it’s colder out or maybe if walking late in the evening, but not so good in the Summer during the day. I also like to wear a breathable shirt, as you really can get warm. I find light colours are best on sunny days – my theory being that you’ll reflect more light than absorbing, and therefore stay cooler. One problem though: light colours, when wearing a cotton (or cotton like) shirt can really show off your sweat, and that sweat can stain that shirt. Or maybe you’re not a sweaty beast like me… I also wear a hat – a baseball style hat – in order to save my balding scalp from the Sun’s merciless rays. The brim also works really well as a… um… hat brim. You know: keeping the glare of the sun out of the eyes and other important hat brim stuff. It’s also convenient if it starts to rain. Speaking of rain, I also take a light, waterproof shell (jacket) and tie it around my waist, in case it does.
Hey, remember when I said you’re going to sweat? Well you are also going to get thirsty. Take water with you. Take enough water with you. It sucks that water is heavy, but freakin’ take water with you. I bought a 24 ounce bottle (710 milliliters), that has a clip that I can hang from my a belt loop from Walmart for less than $10 that I take with me. On my longer walks, I will leave water in my car in a cooler so as to have some nice, almost ice cold water at the end of my walk. This, my friend, on a hot day and after a bunch of kilometers, is like nectar of the [fake] Gods, some days. You may get a little snacky too. To combat this I sometimes take a reasonably healthy granola bar with me that I’ll munch on about half way through my walk. You remember that cooler I have with my and of journey water? Well, Sometimes I’ll throw a banana in there for the end of the walk. A banana is an amazing snack at then of a walk. Well, I guess if you didn’t like bananas it wouldn’t be. You should like bananas…
So now that you are wearing clothes and not in danger of death from dehydration, exposure or sun stroke, what else might you need or want for your walk? How about some way to track your progress? Awesome fact is that in the era of smart phones, you probably won’t have to spend any extra money here. I’ve been using an application on my phone called Map My Walk (available for IOS and Android), that tracks my route as well as my steps and approximate calories burned. It also tells your progress as you’re walking, giving you distance, time and split time – all pretty cool things to know. If you have friends that also use the app, you can add them like a social network, and see their progress, as well as send and accept challenges – kind of making a game out of getting fit (add me: search for Catfish Kempster). I love the app and if you’ve looked through some of the photos from my walks, the maps photos as well as the stats come right from the Map My Walk website. Map My Walk is free, but they do offer a premium version with more features. I’ve been more than satisfied with the free version. I also like to listen to audio books, music or podcasts when I’m walking, so I load my phone up with books, music and shows.I find this is a fantastic way to pass the time while walking, and a great way to get a few books in per week at the same time. I used to use a corded set of ear buds, and while they worked, I found it annoying, and decided to order an inexpensive, wireless pair of earbuds I saw on gearbest.com.
Boy am I glad I did: I love not having a cord between my phone in my pocket and my ears, and the earbuds also act as a regular Bluetooth device, allowing me to receive and send phone calls without having to fish my phone out of my pocket or stop walking.
Now, I guess that you should decide whether wearing earbuds and listening to music (or whatever), is safe where you walk. I feel safe and try to be attentive – I don’t want anyone to bonk me on the head in the middle of a Black Sabbath guitar solo, but that doesn’t mean you’d be safe too. Be aware of your surroundings and don’t walk in stupid places. Simple enough, I hope.
I really think that this is about all there is, for me. Dress right, bring water and snacks, have something to listen to, and stay alert. For those that like to track their stats, get Map My Walk. Oh, and one more thing: Have fun, because there’s no sense in any of this is you’re going to just be miserable. You are out side, you are walking and you are getting healthy on the freakin’ cheap. What isn’t there to be happy about?