I have been on a fitness journey for nearly a year yet have made little progress. I have set up a fundraiser to assist with motivation – if I have accountability, I will do something. So, my first goal ($100 tier) was to walk 10-miles. I raised $30, but I wanted to show my donors that I mean business!
Why A 10-mile Walk?
Based on my daily activities, a 10-mile walk didn’t seem too difficult. I typically cover 5 miles; thus, I reasoned that an extra 5 miles would push me but not to the extreme. It seemed like a good “reward” for meeting my first donation goal.
While achievable with my current fitness level, a 10-mile walk seemed like a valuable way of taking a physical baseline in my journey to complete a marathon – which is the top tier of my fundraiser. Presently, I do not run, and I rarely go for a walk longer than a mile. I am primarily an indoor girl! There are no time requirements; the goal was all about hitting the 10-mile target.
It might seem strange to prepare for a 10-mile walk, but I roughly calculated that it would take me a few hours to complete. With this realization, there were a few things to consider.
Staying hydrated during a long walk is as important as when on a run. It is still summer; thus, the temperature will be a significant factor in my hydration needs. I’m not a huge fan of carrying a water bottle, and I would probably need two for a walk of this length. I saught a solution and debated between a water bag and a belt to hold the water bottles. After reading many reviews and opinions, a water backpack seemed better for running, as the water bottles jiggle on the belt.
I ordered a water backpack as a solution to getting proper hydration while out on long exercises. I reasoned that the water bladder would be versatile for walking, running, and biking. I filled it up with about one and a half liters as it was a mild day in Buffalo (around 72 °F), tried it on, and practiced drinking from the spout before heading out.
Next was to consider my feet. I have some pretty old Skechers D-Lite sneakers that are my best walking shoes. I put on my most cushioned socks and figured that was the best I could do. I didn’t think it would matter much as I was only walking. I knew that I’d need better shoes in the future for running.
For food, I woke up late, so I ate 400 calories of Huel Hot and Savory sweet and sour, figuring that was enough to get me through my walk. As I was only walking, I didn’t take any snacks with me.
While hiking, you don’t need anything but the landscape to mesmerize you. Alas, walking in circles around a park doesn’t hold my attention. I reasoned that a good audiobook would distract me from the repetitiveness of walking for the sake of it.
I selected A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam Rutherford. As a biomedical engineer, this book is ideal as it covers science that I have studied but expands it into the field of paleo genealogy to understand where homo sapiens came from and what we can learn from our genetics in our contemporary settings.
I also had some music downloaded from Spotify in case the audiobook made me weary.
I set off from my house, traveling toward Delaware Park. It’s around a mile away, and I meandered in and out of neighborhoods, taking in the architecture and manicured lawns. I said hi and waved to people on porches and then to the giraffes I walked by at the zoo. Overall, the walk to the park was delightful. The weather was threatening rain, but it was clear, and I felt physically terrific getting down there.
After that, it was all about walking the Delaware Park loop – and 1.8-mile circuit that has a deceptive hill. That hill looks like nothing from the road, but the incline is challenging – especially on a bike.
During the first loop, it started to rain. It wasn’t too bad at first – a few drops before a 5-minute shower. Then, the heavens opened. I got utterly drenched between miles 2-7 before the weather finally let up. Luckily, the temperature didn’t drop much, so I didn’t get cold as my feet squelched, and I had to take my glasses off to see.
Around mile 2.5 was when it first felt like a real struggle. There just seemed to be so far to go, and I already felt exhausted. My thighs were sending signals of discomfort. At around mile 3, my left foot started to send warning signals; under the ball of my foot didn’t feel good, almost like there was something in my shoe. I knew this wasn’t the case; it was my sock rubbing with the moisture. My right foot was okay, except for the tip of my 2nd toe, which felt a lot of pressure. I was in pain, but I persevered.
The rain continued to belt down, and I took comfort that I wasn’t the only one at the park exercising. There was a young father who ran by me, pushing his child in a buggy. An old couple held hands as they walked under a large golf umbrella. A few cyclists sped past. Their presence helped break up the monotony of putting one foot in front of the other.
I tried to ignore my left foot, the burn in my thighs, and keep going. The book was helping, but the whole experience felt like a slog. By mile 5, I didn’t think I’d make it. I was wet, sore, hungry, and I wanted to go home.
Once I hit over halfway, I believed I could do this. When I got to mile 7 and knew I was on my last lap, I knew I had the determination to keep going.
I felt liberated when I walked off the Delaware Park loop and started to head home. My left foot was seriously uncomfortable, and my right hamstring wasn’t pleased that I was still making it move. When I finally got home, I had only clocked 9.5 miles. I could either walk around my neighborhood or finish my walk indoors. I urgently required food; I knew my body was desperate for calories. The decision was obvious.
I grabbed a 250-calories of Soylent from the fridge and downed it as I continued to walk and get that last half mile. It’s clear from the heart rate trace and my mile pace for the last one that it wasn’t like all the others. There were stairs, locks, doors, and then cats in the way. I added an extra quarter mile to account for my last half mile “cheat.”
My Apple Watch tracked my stats, and they are presented below. I am delighted with the exercise aspect of this walk. I got a great workout from this effort, especially when I hit those hills. My pace was consistent throughout, only dipping as I got home and negotiated obstacles to get in the door.
My feet have never hurt so much all my life once I finally released them from the sneakers. It hurt to walk on my hardwood floors and could only function on the padded carpet. I need calories stat and made some Huel hot and savory – Mexican chili flavor this time and ran a bath while it steeped. I added Epson salts to help my muscles.
The hot bath and an empty fuel tank made me feel weak and dizzy. I had eaten half of my Huel, but I couldn’t take on more. I had to lie down! I ate the rest of my Huel in bed and let myself sleep. That’s one way to recover.
When I got up a couple of hours later, my feet were far better, but my legs were as stiff as they could be. I started to walk, stretch, and work out the kinks with my percussion gun. In particular, my tightness was in my right hamstring and glute. I must walk asymmetrically!
I had dinner, and with another 650 calories in my body, I started to feel normal. I think this is how I should feel after a long run, not a long walk. It took three days for my feet and hamstring to recover.
I have a long way to go.
First and foremost: I need better shoes (and maybe socks). I’m not going to get far in my training if my feet are covered in blisters. Yes, I can work through the discomfort, but why put myself through that if I don’t need to? I wonder if my feet will adjust to the pounding of pavement and reduce the blisters? I will need to do some research on running shoes!
I didn’t prepare my body with the fuel it needed, contributing to why I struggled. On reflection, I needed to take some food with me to eat on the walk. It’s unreasonable to think I can burn three times as many calories as I ate and be okay – that’s not how the body works! Lesson learned.
I’ve got a long journey ahead if I want to run 26.2 miles when walking 10 miles in 3 hours destroyed me. You’ve got to start somewhere, though, right?
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