A big year idea: Why not walk half an hour every day in 2018?

I appreciate that my geeky obsessions don’t appeal to most, but really, a Big Year is nothing more than instilling a habit. And if you’ve become alarmingly sedentary, if your balance has worsened, if age seems to be creeping up faster than you’d like, why not try a Strolling Big Year?

The idea: on January 1, 2018, set a timer and walk your streets for half an hour, then repeat this 364 times until December 31.

Based on my experience, I reckon you’d go through a process something like this:

  • The first stroll is a cinch and you feel virtuous, so you ponder making it an hour instead. Resist that temptation!
  • In January the days are long and light, so you’ve a wealth of half-hour time slots to use. But one day, busy family affairs mean you need to squeeze in your stroll, and that leaves you a bit stressed, and that’s not enjoyable. My experience? Walk the same time every day; better still, go early every day.
  • A forty degree summer’s day? You walk early and guess what, it’s not so bad.
  • Take the dog? Definitely not (unless yours is an uncommonly obedient at-your-side pooch). Walking a dog benefits the dog, not the human. Ignore his/her pleas and treat them later in the day.
  • A few weeks in, you get a niggle with a toe or an ankle. Don’t stop! If you have to, go see a physio (not a doctor, at least at first) and ask what to do in order to to keep walking. This is a good sign: at last you’re reshaping your limbs. Perhaps you should invest in some cheap hiking boots.
  • In March, you fret that you haven’t lost weight yet. My experience? Keep checking the scales but just walk. You can’t expect a stroll to use more than a few calories, so it’s no magic bullet for weight loss, but the medical/ psychological benefits of regular walking are abundantly proven.
  • Boring, you mutter in May. That’s easy: vary your routes, give them names.
  • I’m betting that one day in June, you’ll rise for your pre-breakfast constitutional and suddenly, irrationally, feel wonderful and marvel: “I’ve walked 175 times!”
  • A dose of the flu? Walk. You shouldn’t overstress your poor sick body but half an hour of slow meandering is no stress at all.
  • It’s early August and pouring icy rain? Walk. Keep adding layers until you’re toasty warm, wear a raincoat. A day in that downpour would be silly; half an hour, a cinch. Imagine the hot shower afterwards!
  • By September, your friends look at you with new eyes. “Walking is easy,” you tell them, and you’re entitled to tell them, having 300 walks to your name.
  • In October, you find you’re enjoying your strolls (hey, they’re no longer strolls but proper semi-brisk walks!) so much, that you contemplate longer hikes. If you’re going to increase your duration, go ahead now, make each one an hour, but still remain wary. The most important aspect is regularity.
  • Come December, when planning summer holidays, you search for walking tracks. Nothing too serious, mind, just enough.
  • Christmas Day is a test. So busy! Okay, up at 6:30 and get it done. You’re especially, delightfully hungry at the Christmas table.
  • For some reason, the final days of 2018 walking stress you out. You’ve invested so much emotional capital into this one act. But you’re looking at anywhere between 500 and 750 kilometers under your shoes over the year, so just keep it up those final few days.
  • You won’t want to rise on New Year’s Day, 2019, feeling empty. Just keep walking, no need to call it anything like a Big Year, just call it “my daily walk.”
  • Of course, given the uplift in your physicality over 2018, given your raised confidence, you might, just might, order a Christmas bike in preparation for a Cycling Big Year!

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