It’s been a while since I posted about my walking habit and figured it was time to write a follow-up and talk about how that habit has changed in the interim. I don’t want to focus too much on technology, that can be saved for another post, but I will mention it in the abstract because it does play a role. When I started my walking habit, I used my phone to track my steps, but after while I purchased a wearable. The device tracked steps, monitored sleep, and woke me up in the morning. As a data nerd, I enjoyed poring over the information that the device recorded. After not quite a year, the device broke and I replaced it with a different one, which in turn broke. This happened a few times—along the way my habit changed.

When I started, the goal was an attainable 10,000 steps per day and I stuck with it, but one day last fall, I thought I’d try jogging around the neighborhood just to mix it up a bit. The run was slow; my pace, laughable. Surely, I was a sight, panting in my driveway at the end, but in that twenty minutes, I had logged nearly 3,000 steps. The efficiency of getting more steps in less time is kept me coming back, what made me persevere through the many, many annoyances running throws at you when starting out.

I did not love it at first. Aches and pains were frequently the result of my efforts, but rather than letting them get the better of me, I researched ways to mitigate. The most beneficial thing I did buying a quality pair of shoes from a shop that specialized in running. The helpful staff at Run For Your Life took their time with me, analyzed my gait, saw that my feet tended to strike from the outside in (pronated), and had me try out several shoes designed to help. The difference was astounding! Doing pre-run dynamic stretches and post-run static stretches helped too, but still, getting out there was effortful. There was no magic flipping of a switch, but slowly and surprisingly, over time I began to depend my runs.

Constantly fighting with my headphones led me to drop them entirely. The rhythmic quiet of a slow steady run affects me in ways I never anticipated. While walking ruminative, running borders on meditative. Not to say it puts me in a zen-like state, but the beehive in my brain gets decidedly less buzzy when I’m out on the road. I started logging my runs on Strava and analyzing the data after each run. I ran in several organized races and even managed to place in my age group a few times. My latest activity tracker favors general activity over steps, changing my daily goal to 650 active calories, and while walking is still an important part of hitting it, with the addition of running and now biking, it is not the only part.