Walking into trouble

It recently occurred to me, as I walked along briskly, about our tendency to over-complicate our lives. It’s ironic that this happened while I was engaged in that most caveman type of behaviour, i.e. walking (as opposed to mammoth hunting). Let me explain.

Once upon a time, in my dim and distant childhood, when my granny would say to her favourite grandchild (yours truly) ‘Let’s go for a walk’ it meant a stroll along a quiet country road, with the birds singing. Sure, there was an occasional rain-shower to necessitate sheltering under a tree, but that was as complicated as it got. Obviously my selective memory means that mostly it was sunny (no, it was, really) and I don’t believe we were really interested in umbrellas – there was always a tree. Except in a thunderstorm when the lightning was almost guaranteed to selectively choose the very tree we were using. Or so my granny said. But I digress.

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Fast forward. I no longer go for a walk ‘just for fun’. Once, it was ‘walking the dog’ but that’s changed now also, and I will come back to that. Mostly now, it’s for cardio exercise. Low impact, admittedly, but for a purpose. Also it’s seldom for getting from A to B. Now we walk from A to A in a big loop. And the technology? Well that’s where it’s starting to get out of hand.

Once I have my ‘walking shoes’ on me and some relatively comfortable outerwear, the rituals begin. I should say that I tend to wear raingear now, because a) it rains a lot more b)urban setting – no trees and c) I don’t dare stop, for reasons I will explain. I’m in my hall. First, I find an already downloaded podcast on my smartphone and start it to play, while shoving my in-ear headphones in. Am I the only person btw whose ears seem to be unable to ‘hold in’ earphones, no matter which model I try?

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Next I open my ‘Map my walk’ app on the smartphone and hit the ‘start’ button. A brief pause to check it’s actually running and that the battery is ok, and I race for the door, because now I’m ‘on the clock’ and every second is precious. I dither momentarily over whether to set my Garmin ‘watch’ to record this walk, and I decide not to, because I can’t figure out how to get it to tell me the actual time when I am recording an activity. Yes, I know, I should read the manual, but actually I don’t much care about recording the walk because – yes – my ‘watch’ IS recording my steps – that baseline parameter. So off I go.

The next slice of paranoia is keeping my pace – I normally manage between 10 and 10.5 minutes per KM and ‘Map my Walk’ (hereafter MMW)  bursts in breathlessly every KM to tell me how I’m doing. This has the unfortunate habit of over-riding about 30 seconds on the podcast – inevitably a particularly interesting bit. Plus I now (more or less) know how MMW calculates split times, averages and so on. But it’s a bit like being on a treadmill, so heaven forbid you actually meet a friend or have to stop for some other reason, lest it destroy what could be a personal best.

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The Dog takes a break…

As an aside, as the owner of an elderly lab-retriever cross breed dog, those ‘walks’ serve no useful exercise purpose whatsoever. Basically we shuffle the relatively short distance to a small local park, where she can get into the stream (her passion) and splash about for a while before I cajole her home. Plus she gets to smell some fresh scents and generally look around her. Once upon a time, she and our other dog (now sadly departed) were an excuse for a vigorous walk in the local park, but those days are past.

My active walking ‘loops’ tend to be about five to six kms when I am walking from home, which can mean the complication of changing a podcast while still walking and trying not to crash into a lamp-post. Immediately when I get back to my front door I press ‘hold to finish’ and then my walk is swept up into the ether. Where, to my credit, I never look at it again. I can imagine there must be people who pore over their stats, but I’m not one of them. It is kinda nice though, to have a record of the outing, if one ever chose to go and see what exercise was taken and where. And I suppose it could come in useful if I ever had to prove where I was on a night when a gory crime was committed. So then it’s a reverse process – turn off the podcast, save the workout, and yet again go online to find a pair of earphones that don’t fall out of my peculiarly formed ears.

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And finally, if you think the process of walking is complicated, you should see the technical effort required to support and record my cycles when I go out on the roads. There, I have a few people on Strava who ‘give me kudos’ when I log a cycle, so even more pressure to perform. Maybe it’s time to rip off all the connections and ‘just do it’…for its own sake. On the plus side, the images in this post are generally from walks I have done in the past while, so I guess my smartphone camera is the last piece of the jigsaw.

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