Walking Resources

Day 253

Austrian Danube image from World Walks (see below for link)

Matt Gross, the New York Times “Frugal Travel” writer, set out to walk 180 miles from Vienna to Budapest in March of this year. His plan was to follow in the footsteps of 18-year-old Englishman Patrick Leigh Fermor, who in 1933 set out from London on a German-bound ship intending to walk 1,400 miles from Rotterdam to Istanbul. Fermor wrote two apparently-classic books about his yearlong adventures — A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods — and at 95

Matt's route from Vienna to Budapest

is called, according to Gross, “Britain’s greatest living travel writer.

I’m not exactly sure how Fermor described the inevitable side-tracks and travails that make traveling and travel writing occasionally risky, often tedious, and a failsafe inspiration for great personal revelations and cultural discoveries. But I do know how Gross made out, because he wrote about his two-week adventure in the New York Times, in which he said…

My ankles were swollen but not too painful, and throughout the morning I enjoyed the scenery: the small mountains through which the Danube snaked before turning due south. But after three hours, I noticed, my ankles had become lightning rods of agony. I arrived in Visegrad in midafternoon and pitched my tent (for the first time) at a roadside campground, knowing that tomorrow, after visiting Visegrad’s mountaintop castle, where Hungary’s royal crown had once been sheltered, I’d board a bus for Budapest.

You can read the rest of his piece here. And rest assured that when I visit Prague, Vienna, and Budapest at the end of this month I’ll be seeing the cities on foot, by bike and — if my daughter has her way — on roller blades.  I might even check out a walking tour put together by World Walks. But I will not most definitively be taking a plane, train, and a hydrofoil boat on the Danube, to go from city-to-city.


Day 174

I’m absolutely certain there’s more than one sane and reasonable way to respond when your husband sends you a link to an article that says (and I quote, here) — “Look babe, women need 60-minutes a day of exercise to stave off middle-aged weight gain.”

Now the first, instinctive response to this email is certainly to lunge for a donut the treadmill (or do a backbend like I did – yes, that really is a picture of me doing a backbend over a donut!).

A second is to burst into tears. A third sane and fully justified response would be to type out  SOMETHING  REALLY $%?!#?&NG* NASTY in BIG TYPE and hit the reply button.

But if you are keeping a daily blog about your  year of daily walks then the only thing to do is read it, post it, and love it.

So here it is, girls, straight from Harvard Medical School via JAMA, my husband Frank, and the Wall Street Journal: Women at a normal weight who consume a normal diet can beat middle-age weight gain by working out intensely for 30 minutes a day, whether by running, cycling, swimming laps or working out at a gym. Weight gain can also be prevented with 60 minutes of moderate activity, such as walking, a leisurely bike ride or playing catch.

Throw the old 150 minutes a week rule out the window. If you want to keep your thighs respectable and your butt zipped into yourjeans you are going to have to exercise 420 minutes a week. Just like me.

Want to see the piece your doctor and your fitness instructor are going to be quoting to you next week? Click here and go right to the source.

Oh, and by the way, I was only kidding about the backbend. Did you really think I’d keep a giant donut in my house!?

Day 156

Do we have any OHIO WALKERS out there in MyBigWalkLand?

As I recall, chili over spaghetti topped with onions and cheddar cheese is a favorite local cuisine in Cincinnati…but that’s no reason to question some of the really good things about the city, like the winding Ohio River, the new Great American Ballpark, and a funky little downtown art district.

If we’re eating Cincinatti-style chili, we really need to keep up our walking routines! That’s why this week’s Monday Morning Motivator comes from a recent article on  the Cincinnati Enquirer’s web page.

Choosing a walking or running route


Fitness can be incredibly simple. Sometimes, the most effective workouts don’t need celebrity spokespeople or a payment plan. Walking and running are excellent ways to stay in shape year-round. These basic workouts are convenient, feasible almost anywhere, and require only a good pair of shoes- all you need is a place to go!

Depending on the time of year, as well as your fitness goals, you can map out a route to suit your needs. Some things to consider include

The Scenic Route  *  Terrain Variety  *  Ground Surface  *  Water Stops & Resting Places  *  Safety

My favorite tip from Rebecca is about terrain variety:

Keep in mind that the most effective routes for walking/running are those with varied terrain: flat levels for a brisk but steady pace; gentle hills for a challenge; and steep slopes, which are more demanding on the way up and require better balance on the way down. Walking up a hill with 15 percent slope uses about a third more energy than walking on a flat surface, while walking downhill takes about the same energy as walking on level ground– unless the hill is very steep, in which case your muscles must work harder to keep your balance.

You can read the whole article here.

Day 127

Instead of walking for an hour yesterday, I took part in a wonderful benefit for Haiti organized by Yogadesha, the yoga studio up the street from my house.

I absolutely love combining many aspects of my life and interests into a single hour of activity, and this pulled together yoga, exercise, friends, and compassion. Best of all, proceeds from the event are going to the group Partners in Health, which is affiliated with the Harvard Medical School and brings medical care to the poorest nations and people in crisis.

PIH is organizing their 10th annual Urban Walk for Haiti on March 27th in Boston. It’s a 3 hour walk and all proceeds will go directly to work on the ground in this small, beleaguered nation. If you live in the area, I hope you’ll consider walking for Haiti.

So what’s the Monday Morning Motivator?  Let your  heart & your conscience guide you. Don’t be afraid to break out of your conventional ideas about walking, giving, and living.  If today’s “walk” is a yoga class instead, do it. The sidewalk will be there tomorrow. And I’ll be on it.

Day 72

My favorite segment of what I think of as the “professional walking industry” are the complete streets advocates.

Think SHARE THE ROAD and you know what they’re trying to do: bikes, pedestrians, cars, joggers, dog walkers and more, all getting along.  Making the streets safer, the city more amenable, the streetscape more desirable, and the community more livable.

Imagine: no more crossing your fingers when you rush through a busy intersection. No more cyclists waving angry fists at joggers who veer in front of them while trying to avoid a car.

Some of this can be done with little more than painted paths and Share the Road signs. Other cities need to repave, expand, and re-design their town centers, bikepaths, and sidewalks.

The Alliance for Biking & Walking in Washington D.C. advocates and funds livable streets programs across the country, and this season awarded grants to grassroots organizations in Chicago, Boston, New Orleans, Seattle, and Central Connecticut.

“Complete streets policies require that street design consider the safety and needs of all potential users including bicyclists, pedestrians, transit and the disabled. Many Alliance organizations have undertaken complete streets campaigns and won local policies, and others are currently working to win complete streets in their communities. Find model complete streets policies, complete streets campaigns, and checklists for ensuring complete streets policies are effectively implemented.” – from the Alliance for Biking and Walking website.

As a walker, I’d like to become more involved in this simple, green movement, and I’m looking forward to 2010 when my local BikeWalkMontclair group unveils their new website and, incorporating pedestrians and pedestrian issues into their mission statement and their outreach events. Cyclists are already advocating for bike paths. Walkers should find out more, and join the movement. And yes, that pun was intended!

Day 46

roadsignsWaiting and wondering about what I’ll find around the next bend in the road just isn’t my style. My whole life’s been about stomping onward — whether I’m tired, sad, frightened, hopeful, happy, lonely, or weary.

I think that scares some people. But for me, the only thing scary is standing still and worrying. 

There are 25 parks and reservations in Essex County.  I’ve walked 8 of them since starting My Big Walk: Yantakaw, Brookdale, South Mountain Rez, Eagle Rock Rez, Mills Rez, Verona Park, Anderson,  and the Presby Iris Gardens.

In the next three weeks I’ll walk the 17 others.  Around one corner I might find a castle (Kips) around another, a soldier (South Mountain).  Who knows what I’ll find in Newark or Irvington!? If I survive When I’m done I’m going to walk the Lenape Trail that runs through Union and Essex Counties.

I’m tempted to say that Dorothy had it right — there’s no place like home. But I prefer Dr. Seuss’ take on life:book cover

But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

IMG_2562With those words in mind, I’m setting out today for Hilltop Reservation with my faithful walking companion, Sarah. And my camera.   What’s around the corner? I’ll let you know when I get there.

Day 36

So – I’m not the only walking blogger out there.  Au contraire, mon cher (I know, enough with the French already…just one more day, please). 

In Montreal there’s Dara — a college student who doesn’t own a car. danaShe says, “I walk everywhere, in all weather, and I like it….” You’ll find her at A Walking Blog. I’m hoping to meet up with Dara for a walk next time I’m up at McGill (I’m pretty sure that’s her, but I think I’ll need to see her face if I’m going to recognize her up in Canada).

On the West Coast we have Wendy Bumgardner blogging, walking, and organizing the annual Vancouver Discovery Walk Festival.  I’ve been getting daily motivational updates from Wendy’s 10-week Walk for Life mini-course at About.com.

bookColorado-based author and Nordic walker Claire Walter has already been out snow-shoeing in the Rocky Mountains this yearyear. That’s her book cover, and you can see her beautiful photographs at NordicWalkingUSA.

In Cheshire, England, David Preston’s been going on some cows on mountainreally adventurous walks and showing off sharing some pretty spectacular photographs like this one.

And there’s Vic, across the ocean, who’s preparing to walk  from his home in the French Pyrenees, to the house where he was born in Blackpool, Northern England in 70 days, arriving on his 70th birthday, in July (great minds think alike, Vic!). His walk is being supported by Columbia, the outdoor outfitter, and will raise money for  Pancreatic Cancer UK. Check him out at Vic’s Big Walk.

And that’s about it, folks.  There are millions of us walking, and only a few of us keeping a public record of it. Which is why I’m positively thrilled to let you know that soon I’ll be a regular blog circle feature on the interactive community website, Vibrant Nation. My Wall of Walkers will be growing, and our leagues will be expanding.

So stay tuned. Keep sending updates to my Wall of Walkers  (thanks, Storey!). And remember, THERE IS NO WALL OF SHAME…(not yet, anyway).

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