In July of last year, I spent a week at the beach in Carpinteria with the family. There were lots of walks on the beach and around town, and I came home with a resolution to walk every day.
Obviously, the dogs were one hundred percent supportive of that resolution. They have a doggy door and a big back yard, but going for walks where they can smell new things is their absolute favorite thing in the world. Well, except for eating. And tummy rubs. And sleeping. Okay, they have a lot of favorite things, but walks are right up there at the top of the list.
So far, we’ve gone walking every single day with just a handful of exceptions. I was sick for a few days in November, and I’ve been out of town without the dogs a few times. Otherwise, rain or shine, we walk. When it’s hot like it is now, we walk as soon as I wake up in the morning. In cooler weather, we can go out whenever we feel like it, but we still usually go in the morning. Lucky (the white dog) tells me to get moving if I wait too long.
Walking is never going to make me thin, but it’s still good for me. The way the dogs & I walk, with lots of stopping to smell stuff, it’s not much of a cardio workout. It’s still weight-bearing exercise, though, so good for staving off osteoporosis. It makes me more aware of how my body is working, too. Earlier this year, something went awry in my right foot, and it was painful to walk even a quarter of a mile. Frustration at being unable to keep up my daily walks gave me the impetus to try acupuncture, which somehow magically did the trick for me.
The best thing about walking is seeing what’s going on out there in the world. We usually walk around the Cubs spring training stadium and practice fields, so sometimes we get to see baseball practice, and the grass is always green and there are beautiful trees and shrubs. We see people walking or playing with their dogs, bicycling, running, playing soccer, and doing complicated outdoor routines involving orange cones and pushups. When it’s cooler, we walk over by Tempe Town Lake or at Papago Park, where sometimes we can see the desert bighorn sheep at the zoo and we can visit Governor Hunt’s pyramid tomb that overlooks the zoo’s savannah exhibit with its giraffes. And then there’s the weather, and the sun, and sometimes clouds or wind or even rain.
Sometimes I use my walking time to think about the plot of the novel I’m writing, or do music theory memory drills, or plan my day. Other times I listen to a podcast or NPR or an audiobook on my phone. Usually, though, I don’t think about much at all. I have my eye out for loose dogs, because my dogs are small and they aren’t good with other dogs; and I’m constantly adjusting how I hold the leashes as Lucky wraps himself around my legs.Otherwise, I’m just in the moment – thinking about whatever I’m looking at, registering the warmth or cold on my skin, feeling my feet hitting the ground. I guess it’s more like meditation than anything.