“You’re doing the Camino?” he asked. “Did you start practicing yet?”
“No,” I replied sheepishly. “But it’s not until May, so I’ve got time.”
He looked at me with wide eyes. “You should be out there – at least an hour every day.”
It was August, 2011. I was not planning on starting my preparations until January, 2012, but this guy scared me a little. Gerald Murphy had hiked most of the Appalachian trail. He’d biked coast to coast. He was here at the Folk School leading paying students on ten mile hikes every day that week. He knew what he was talking about. But I knew that people can only do so much at one time, and my focus for the next four months was on two things: my job at the Folk School and my classes at the Folk School.
I listened to his advice, thanked him, and stuck to my plan.
On January 10th, it was time to take action. I finally bought a new battery for my pedometer. I put it in only to discover that my pedometer didn’t need a new battery – it just didn’t work at all. I lamented to Glenda, my hostess, and she said, “Oh – I have one that you could use.” It will never cease to amaze me how things turn up when I need them to.
Since that day, I’ve had my Step Into Health pedometer on my hip every waking moment.
The first week I just wanted to get a baseline reading. I was disappointed to learn that my morning walk around Chatuge Lane only garnered me 2100 steps, so I started exploring new roads to increase my numbers. Out onto Highway 64, left onto Ledford Chapel Road, right onto…is this a road? Hmm…I don’t think so. Turn around.
My inability to sit still for too long (thanks, Dad) earned me about 4000 steps each day just “puttering” around the house, cooking, and running errands. I jotted down each days count: 6471, 8972,8935, 13172. That last one is what happens when you spend two and a half hours at a Saturday night Contra Dance at the Folk School🙂
So what does any of this mean? How many steps in a mile? My pedometer only records steps, so I had no idea how far I was really walking. A Google search tells me 2000 steps is about one mile. Some time ago the popular view was that 10,000 steps per day was ideal. Most people can’t get to 10,000 steps without adding in a half-hour walk, so it makes sense that this recommendation might get people out exercising.
Ten thousand steps is about five miles. I must admit, I was pretty proud of myself. I wasn’t too far from that number. And if I could do five miles per day, it wouldn’t be long before I could feel confident that I could do twelve miles per day for forty days on the Camino.
On Monday I decided to set my sights for 10,000 steps. I realized this would require not just a morning walk, but an evening walk as well. (Or a longer morning walk, but I get bored easily, so didn’t know if that would work.) Thankfully, I was in Florida on Monday. And it was 70 degrees. I met my friend Sarah for a walk around Sawgrass Lake Park in the morning, had gelato at Mazarro’s Italian Market with Stephanie, sat out by the pool in the afternoon, and then called a friend as I started on my evening walk. I like the quiet of my morning walks, but the evening one might require a phone call for distraction. It worked: 10,928 steps.
Tuesday we left St. Petersburg. Six trips between the condo and the car (with three flights of stairs in between) helped rack up some steps in the morning. After lunch, I walked a few times around the restaurant before we got back on the road. A couple rounds around Dairy Queen while eating a chocolate cone with rainbow sprinkles helped, too. That night, I headed to the treadmill at the hotel. (Jessica, my marathon-runner sister would be proud, and stunned.) But treadmills are boring. And the TV in the gym wasn’t offering any good viewing options. So I left with a couple thousand steps left to take, only to go back after dinner and have Jon Stewart on the TV to help me get through those last steps: 10,525 read my pedometer.
Today we drove back to North Carolina. I walked a few laps around the Olive Garden in Canton, Georgia where we stopped for lunch. The sign on the back door said they didn’t take deliveries between 11 and 2. Their dumpsters are hidden behind some very nice looking gates. After two laps, I joined my travel partners and we got back on the road.
We arrived home at 4:30. As soon as I unpacked the car, I took off for a walk before the sun went down. It was a balmy 60 degrees and I wanted to take advantage. I opened my pedometer. I was at 2400 steps. Chatuge Lane, across Highway 64 to the lake shore, left on Ledford Chapel, up the hill, Willow Pond Lane – let’s see where that goes. Some of these houses are obviously only used seasonally. No one’s home – shades drawn, boats and jet skis covered. There was no sign indicating this was a dead end, but it was. I’m at 5000 steps when I turn around. 8700 by the time I get home.
“Were you walking all this time?” Glenda asks when I arrive home. “Yup – three miles,” I say. Only 1300 steps to go to reach 10,000 today. I’m on my way. A little later than Gerald would have recommended, but according to my timeline, I’m right on time:)