I have always been walking one way or another. My mindset and my technique has changed trough time. The basic is simple – one step at a time. When I spent 115 days cycling through Australia I tended to say that while walking you see more of less… Today, for me it’s more to it. For me walking is meditation or even a form of medication. After a day out on the trails my body is tired but my mind is clear and at ease. It’s not only transportation, it is a way of living for me. Here I share some of my thoughts.
Today I tend to walk towards the goal and not to the goal. Sure I’m going there, but the mentality is different. Be humble to the task in front of you and to yourself.
“It’s a balance between travelling far enough to finish the adventure measured against slowing down enough to savour it all.”
Don’t worry, stop hurry!
It’s easy to push the limits while telling yourself that you will be there sooner. Perhaps the rain is nearby or it’s getting late. By extending your stride you get more sore and you would feel it afterwards. By doing so most often we also tend to press the limits and instead of shortening the steps when needed, we tend to step over the object and put our foot down directly after it. I think all of us have slipped on wet rocks and roots by doing this. Save your strength, be safe. When you want to get there quicker, be smart. Like minimizing the weight in your backpack you don’t start with cutting the toothbrush in half. There is more to it. Some days you don’t get as far as you want to and you still struggle a lot doing the stretch you do. Other days the terrain, your body and the stars are aligned. Everything just works out and you catch up easily, you’re still according to your travel plan. Being too far behind every day is not bad luck either, to be honest it’s poor planning! Be kind to yourself and make room for bad weather and unexpected events. Travel according to ability is more fun and makes everything safer. Don’t rush your journey, one eye on the clock.
“It’s not about the altitude you reached or the distance you walked. It’s about connection, love and respect to the surrounding and others.“
Be kind to yourself
Stop and feel the breeze, let the water of a stream ripple through your hand and take your time to lie on the ground. Take a break every now and then.
Keep the good vibe
When I’m out walking on longer adventures I start slowly. The first day out I’m getting into the mood, having a feel of being out again, searching for the travel bug and getting used to walking with my backpack again. Perhaps you’re in a new country, being jetlagged and all. If you walk on at a slowly pace the first couple of days managing a healthy doze of stress on your body, you also keep the WOW feeling, having a good vibe. This creates a good base for the rest of the trip. I did see a lot of people walking “too far” the first couple of days while doing my first camino. People that got blisters that they lived with for the majority of the their walk towards Santiago de Compostela. Start slowly, give your body the best chance to adapt. Then, after a couple of days or a week, you increase the volume. If you finish your day still feeling that you could walk on forever, I would say you’re having a perfect beginning on your adventure.
“Everything is an experience”
Embrace the elevation
It’s true that it is a nice view from the top, but it’s also true that you don’t need to get up on all hilltops along the way. If you have the strength and want to, please do so but on a longer trip all ups and downs makes you sore. Plan your route by looking at a map, with binocular or as you go every 5 min or so. Sometimes going slightly out of route is perfect, saving you a hill every now and then. If you climb upwards zig zagging slowly, still able to talk full sentences, it is perfect. Imagine walking 50.000 steps every day or more for a week with 20kg on your back saving let’s say 1500m of elevation every day by being aware of the surroundings. This could be helpful.
Searching, the past and the present.
Why am I walking? Why am I out there tearing down my rubber soles? Am I looking for something special? I often think that’s exactly what I don’t do out there. I’m not searching, I am. I feel calmer, more satisfied, I can simply only be. In town or at home, I often feel miserable and in the wrong place. In the past when I was out hiking, I often felt that I needed to get up on the peaks that I saw. While up there looking around, I saw several new peaks and valleys. I wanted to go there too. I was not happy. My thoughts rushed. Forward forward! Today, I can see myself standing there in the valley looking up. I know it’s wonderful up there. BUT, where I stand right now gives me that feeling of satisfaction. I’m in the right place I don’t need to run any further. I usually want to sit and be in it (feeling) instead of rushing on. It is not the whole truth but more true by the day.