What Would It Be Like To Walk EVERYWHERE For One Week?
On many afternoons, when the walls of the office start closing in on my body and my creativity, I’ll find other locations to work. Coffee shops, bookstores, bus stations, any place with free WiFi is a suitable office space. Most of the time I’ll end up at this sweet public library not far from home.
I frequent the joint enough that not only do I know all the regulars but I’m starting to become one. I’ll laugh at the black guy who takes study breaks by holding a one-man Tai Chi class in the open field behind the building or the old lady pocketing forty sugar packets a day from the café and give them “known only to me nicknames like “Don Chi-Dle” and “the lady who steals sugar packets all the time.” I never claimed to be good at giving nicknames.
There’s one guy, let’s call him Skipper, who power walks all over the building. Long, commanding strides through the fiction section and across to the community AV room and back, handfuls of books in each hand, not a stride lost. Skipper just walks. Walks.
So I’m blinking at a blank monitor for what felt like hours but might have only been moments and my brain is just misfiring. I needed caffeine, fresh air, and even a couple Tai Chi arm swings to get the blood flowing back to the brain. A (hot) coffee from the café would make a good kick to the brain but after realizing they were out of sugar packets I dipped out of the building and hoofed it up to the next block.
The balmy afternoon air blew suddenly cold, not with wind from the sky, but with a gush of forced air off the frame of a man moving with a purpose. The Skipper. The old man blew right by as if I were fixing a flat at Talladega. I caught a glimpse of his calves, rock hard from years of steps and struts, and notice for the first time he’s in phenomenal shape. In what felt like a blink, before I even pulled the coffee shop door completely open, Skipper trampled through the half-open entry, coffee and scone in hand.
On the surface, walking doesn’t appear to be the most strenuous of physical activity. I’ve been walking since the age of 2 –minus the initial few months when my key means of transportation was a walk/stumble hybrid ending with a fall plant into a soft piece of furniture – and I’m not exactly a whippet. Walking does, however, have its benefits. Especially in a world dominated by a “THERE! NOW!” mentality.
Data on pedestrians in America in recent years proves the country is collectively using their feet to get to school and the office. I’m not sure if this uptick in walking is because it’s so absurdly expensive to get around these days, or because we’re all moving way too close to work, but anything that will get this country up and moving is a good thing.
Research shows the benefits of walking for at least 30 minutes a day will reduce the risk of heart disease, aids in keeping weight down, helps with digestion and has countless other benefits. The only downside is it takes three times as long to get places. So people choose to be on time instead of living longer, healthier lives and man the world sounds so stupid when things are put in print.
I wonder what life is like for Skipper. Not his private life, I’m sure that will all come out one day in a newspaper article when he either dies and leaves a billion dollars to a cat named Penelapuss or finally gets caught for years of running a sugar packet smuggling ring with old what’s her name. I wonder what it like to get around using nothing but my feet.
For health, and possibly cheapness reasons, I walked everywhere for a week. Everywhere I could. Everywhere possible. I strapped on my new ASICS GEL-Quantum 360, popped on an app to track my miles and calories, and hoofed it everywhere it was physically possible. I even took a couple videos and photos. Here’s a running diary of my seven days on the street.
Every morning, usually between 5:15 and 5:30 depending on my accuracy with hitting the snooze button, I go to the gym. It’s the only time I can work out because of commuting, family and the absolute meathead parade marching through the gym between 5-1opm. Imagine the worst club you’ve ever been to and then imagine they also provided weights. That’s the gym after work.
No car allowed, I walk to the gym. It’s less than a half mile and it really serves a nice wake-up for the pending workout. It’s also a chance to peep neighbors doing shady things in the early hours of the morning that I usually miss when I’m zipping by in a car. Don’t think I didn’t see you leave that massive dog turd on a yard not yours, Ms. Too Early To Carry A Bag For Dog Dumps.
The walk back home was a little brisker. I remembered halfway through a chest workout that “oh crap I’ve got to walk to the train station.” On the walk to the train station – an uncomfortable 1.9 miles — I remembered that I failed to do abs and would dropping down on this person’s lawn right now for some crunches be odd? Yeah, that’s a dog dump, I’ll hit them tomorrow.
To cap off the day, and a 1.9 mile walk each way from Penn Station to the office, was another walk back from the train station to home. My mind wandered back to the time in my life when my only option of getting around (besides getting a ride from my parents or riding a bike) was to walk. Back then it didn’t seem so awful. Walking now just seems so…DAMN IT! I just stepped in dog crap.
Total miles: 4.1
Total calories: About 300-400
Total piles of dog feces: numerous
Another casual stroll through NYC to keep life in perspective and the blood pressure at a boiling point.
Walking through Manhattan during peak tourist season (and every season feels like peak tourist season) is really quite a user experience. During the holiday season and in the summer it’s an absolute hell on earth to walk around midtown, uptown and parts of downtown but on like 3-4 random days, it’s not so bad.
If you haven’t done it, I highly recommend it, especially if you love not getting anywhere fast, random crowds of crazy people and the feeling of wanting to scream your eyeballs out in frustration. Here’s a small sampling of just a minute of my walk. Please forgive me for holding the phone upright, I was in a daze from the constant stop and go.
That was a few minutes sped up into a digestible :18 seconds. Now imagine that for about two miles. If I’m not at least in the discussion for Time’s Man Of The Year the whole contest is fixed.
Total miles: 5.2
Total calories: About 400-500 calories
Total strangers to strangle: BEYOND COUNT
Day three was spent working from home because I’m not walking to that damn train station again. Fortunately, I have the option. Anyone who doesn’t have the work from home option, I’m sorry, but at least you can drive. I was starting to hallucinate being the fifth friend in Stand By Me and wanted to search for a dead body instead of taking the train into work.
The day wasn’t without it’s walking since I needed to run both to the grocery store and the drug store and they’re a couple miles apart. And don’t think I didn’t consider old ladying the errands by taking a shopping cart from one shopping center to the other. I admire those women. They don’t play by the rules. “This shopping cart is the only thing holding up my lifeless body and I need to get new stockings! Rules be damned!”
I’m also starting to notice odd things, stuff I usually blow past in a car. Like this tree in my neighborhood.
Harmless tree or Davy Jones from Pirates Of The Caribbean? I’ve never seen the branches of a tree so close to the ground. It’s as if the branches said “wait until the tree gets tall enough to start growing? AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!” and just sprouted some arms. Trees branches are jerks.
On my venture from center to center, I walked upstream while middle school and high school kids on an early dismissal walked downstream. Deep down, in the part of me still in school, I felt a tiny fire of embarrassment. Then I started doing all these wheelie tricks with my shopping cart to show off. It worked. Are you going to Rachel’s party this weekend? Her parents are out of town. It’s going to be EEPPIICCC! I just wish they didn’t all vote me in charge of beer AND HEY WAIT A MINUTE!
Total miles: 3.8
Total calories: Eh, whatever, enough.
Total number of sweet shopping cart tricks: hundreds!
I chose not to go into the office just because one more brisk walk through the city would turn into a jog, then a nice pace, then a dead sprint in front of a sight-seeing bus.
I also decided to stay home because I didn’t feel like doing much walking. Feet felt fine, Asics GEL-Quantum 360s on point, but my legs were slightly sore. Also, walking is boring as hell. There are only so many podcasts to listen to and so many times I can hit shuffle on my music selection. I started to hate half the music in my library. The Wild Yaks and I are about to come to blows.
If I’m not listening to music or podcasts, I’m left alone with my own thoughts. That’s a dangerous place to be. The last time I was left alone with my thoughts I took a deep dive into the life of Aquaman. Far too many questions emerged like
• I want to commit an ocean crime, I should do it right after Aquaman finishes a meal?
• Does Aquaman vacation at a beach? That doesn’t seem relaxing. He can’t like “turn off” the ocean as if its a cell phone. He’s probably a skier.
• How does Aquaman keep his hair so perfect in water? My hair is all in my face and eyes the minute I’m out of the water. Does he use a fiber, pomade or straight squid poop?
• How hard did HS swim coach push Aquaman to join team? He was all “I just wanna hang w/ friends” & coach goes “your friends are eels! Literally eels!”
I did end up walking to the pharmacy because I was out of toothpaste. It’s a little over a mile from my house. While there, I browsed hair products for any that might include squid turds.
Total miles: 2.4
Total calories: About 300-400
Total time spent thinking about super heroes: too much.
Friday! Friday! Gotta walk around on Friday!
I’m walking to work but I’m taking my time. I’m touristing this walk up. I’m randomly stopping for asinine photos of uninteresting buildings, consulting maps and yelling out random sightseeing spots in a nondescript accent. “EMPIRE. STATE! STATE OF THE EMPIRE. THURTEE ROWK!”
No lie, people carry street maps. Where does one buy a map these days? I wouldn’t know where the hell to buy a physical map. I’d need to download an app to find a store to sell me a map.
Total miles: 5.9
Total calories: About 400-500
Total times I can’t wait for this experiment to end: Once every quarter mile
It’s Saturday and while I’d love nothing more than to veg on my couch all day I’ve got things to do. But first, a morning run.
Weekends are usually devoted to one long run because I’ve got the time. I started with a brisk walk that continued into a brisk walk until I realized “what am I doing? I’m allowed to run. This is running. I’m not walking anywhere with a purpose, I’m running for physical exercise.”
Then I got sick to my stomach from moving faster than a brisk pace.
Total miles: 6 miles (running) and 1 mile (walking out of habit)
Total calories: About 700-800
Total people bumped into: zero and it was fudging awesome.
A Sunday without family around means I’m permitted to do whatever the hell I want with the day. After finishing all the yard work, chores and personal stuff I was allowed about 37 minutes to myself. WHAT TO DO WITH ALL THE TIME! ?! Whatever it is, it will have to be close enough to walk…or…
You know, every diet and exercise program preaches about the importance of the cheat day. I’m going to make this cheat day involve transportation and not washing down bags of pork rinds with every flavor milkshake suitable for chugging. I’m going to use my bike because the driving range is too damn far from my house to walk. It’s an eight-mile walk holding on to a couple clubs so it’s time for a little two-wheel transporting.
I hit the range early enough so it was only me and a couple old bros who probably spent the whole weekend golfing and this was their down time. Silence. No sounds but club against ball.
With the small bucket empty, I eyeballed the time on my phone and realized there were only about twelves hours left to my week spent walking around for no other reason and did I just see Skipper hop into a brand new Tesla in the parking lot?
I’m calling for a ride home.
Chris Illuminati is a senior editor with BroBible. Follow him on Instagram in case he walks anywhere again soon.