Walking Commute

Sickness and Diseases

Okay, so here I am doing more to make myself fit and healthy than I have for erm, quite a long time. And as I sit here I have :-

  • a cold
  • sweat rash
  • knackered foot

All this ‘get fit’ stuff is bad for you!

The cold is one of what has seemed like a constant stream of them passed on from my daughter, Shelly this winter. Hard to remember a few days when I didn’t have a cold.

The sweat rash is from all the walking. Try and make a difference to your fitness and get landed with some other horrible disease. For a long time I thought it was just my eczema back again, so I treated it as such. Finally the penny dropped and the various sprays, ointments and general gunk I’m using right now seems to be making a difference.

The knackered foot - I can’t believe this. I was sat using the computer last night, stood up and felt something happen to my right foot. It felt like I’d pulled something, it was pretty minor so I thought nothing more of it and went to bed. This morning I awake to quite a lot of pain in my foot and find that I can just about hobble around. I feel like I should be using a walking stick right now. There’s no way I’ll be able to do my walking commute for a few days, just as last week I only managed one day due to the cold and how it affected my breathing.

So here I am, bursting to get back into my walking, lose some more pounds, stones and inches - and there’s no way I can. I’m frustrated to say the least.

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Another Sign of Shrinkage!

squonk jacket 1

Any of my mates who has known me a while will instantly recognise the jacket pictured above. I bought it when I was about 20 and a friend added the art work a little while later. All taken from Genesis’ ‘A Trick of the Tail’ album sleeve.

This jacket was a part of my identity through my 20’s. People would spot it and come over for a chat at gigs and festivals. It saw a lot of wear and tear and travelled over to the USA when I first went to meet my future parents-in-law. Humm, heaven knows what they made of me…!

And the reason I’ve dragged it out? Well, one of my targets in the whole ‘walk to work’ campaign was to be able to pop on this old leather jacket and zip it up again. Keep in mind that I bought it when I was 20 years old and to be honest, from my mid twenties onwards I wasn’t really able to wear it zipped up.

I tried it on over Christmas. It went on okay, but zip? Erm - no way, couldn’t even make the two halves of the zipper meet up in the middle.

Tried it on today and…. woah… we had zipperage!

Okay, it’s erm, still a little (!) on the tight side, but it bloody well zipped up! I’m staggered.

Only thing is, will I actually wear it? Well, only just to ’show’ a few friends who scoffed at me when I told them my plan regarding this jacket, ‘yeah, yeah, as if that’s going to happen…’. Ah… erm, if you’re reading this - you know who you are and you will soon see that when I set my mind to something I can be bloody stubborn!

All I need to do now is to find some way to get some suppleness back into parts of it (the arms seem particularly stiff) and maybe get some blacking on bits too if possible. I just want to be sure that anything I use on it to restore it doesn’t damage the art work - painted with acrylics I believe. Any recommendation? Be prepared to get shot if your recommendation strips off all the paint though!

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The Amazing Shrinking Squonky

It has been a while since I said anything here about my walking commute, so time for a quick update.

I still haven’t weighed myself. I know that at some point I’m probably going to have to, if only to look at things like Body Mass Index. But despite not having weighed myself I know that the weight is dropping off - well, the size certainly is, so the weight must be.

I had been watching my belt gradually going further on, notch by notch. By measuring the space between the notch I was on when I started the walking commute and the notch I’m on now I made a rough guess that I’d lost 4 inches from my waist.

Over all this time my clothes had all been getting steadily baggier and more sack like. Finally it had got to the point where I really had to go get a few new clothes. On Monday evening I headed out to pick up some new stuff for work and some new stuff to kick around at home in.

My rough guess of having lost 4 inches was spot on. I was chuffed, to say the least. Okay, I still have a lot more to lose, but it really is bloody well working! If ever I needed a motivating moment then Monday evening’s clothes shopping certainly gave me a boost. I know that if I can keep this up then by around June I’ll probably be about the same size as I was when I was around 18 years old. That kinda blows my mind. It was an odd feeling buying clothes and wondering how much smaller I was rather than wondering if I’d got yet bigger.

And how much more simple could it be? Just walking to and from work around 3 days a week is seeing me lose around an inch a month from my waist. I still have the goal of wanting to walk on 4 days of the week. The plan would be to walk Monday, Tuesday then give myself a rest on Wednesday and walk on Thursday and Friday. Sometimes work commitments are going to get in the way of that, and sometime I guess I just have to accept that I will not feel like walking. I think that so far I’ve only managed to walk 4 days of the week on one occasion. So yes, my target is to make that ‘the norm’.

And yes, it is simple - just as long as I can get myself out of bed in time to do it. It takes an hour to walk into work, and then I need a bit of time to get a shower and get changed at the other end so if I oversleep I just can’t do it. That has been the biggest problem of recent weeks. As long as I’m out of bed in time then I’m fine. No problems with energy, no problems with my legs or my feet. Maybe I just need to get some earlier nights!

The last few weeks have presented some problems. Yes, we had a tiny little fall of snow. I managed to walk in to work through the snow okay, but walking home was bad. The snow had got compacted into ice and it was as slippery as hell. I walked the first half mile or so of the route home and then decided it just wasn’t worth the risk of slipping over and breaking something, so I swallowed my pride and caught the bus the rest of the way.

And then I came down with the ‘flu - a pretty nasty dose and that kept me down to just two days walking that week. I’m pretty well over that now thank goodness.

A quick update on kit. I’m still using the same Merrell shoes and those fantastic Thousand Mile Socks. There are some signs of wear on the soles of the shoes, only to be expected from all that trudging over tarmac and concrete. However, I’m sure there’s months of wear left in them yet, so they will have been a very good investment. I could easily have got through a couple of pairs of trainers with the punishment I’m putting these through.

So, feeling pretty positive about the walking commute right now. It is having the desired effect, I feel ‘better’, stronger and fitter. I feel more alert on days that I walk. Oh and on Tuesday morning I had another reminder of just how bad the traffic can be. I drove in to work that day and it took me no less than 1 hour 5 minutes. The night before I’d walked home in just 58 minutes. Crazy!


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Oh, it’s 2007?

weathered sandstone 2

The Christmas and New Year period passed without me posting here. Well, it was full of all the things that you normally do at that time of year. I did have a week or so off from work, but the weather was dismal and the only places I could think of to visit were closed.

So, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time reading (H.G. Wells) listening to music (Genesis, Nick Drake) and processing photos I took a while ago.

I’m into my second week back at work now though - just don’t know where the time has gone to. And speaking of work, my resolve seems to have crumbled a bit on the walking commute front. I’m blaming the Christmas break myself. After a week of comfort and staying in bed as late as I liked (within reason) it has just seemed like such hard work to get out of bed and go walk. I only did 2 days out of 4 working days last week and this morning I woke up and just couldn’t shift myself. So, got to get back into a routine starting tomorrow. One good thing, on the days I did walk last week I felt like it was easier than ever. It’s not putting the effort in which is a problem for me with this - it’s dragging myself out of bed early enough to be able to walk 4.5 miles in time for work.

We did get out to Kenilworth Castle yesterday. It was dismal weather again, and it’s somewhere I’ve visited a lot, but it’s always good to be around old stone! I did take a few photos, and whilst nothing was spectacular (very dull and flat light) then I enjoyed taking them. The photo at the top of this posting was taken during the visit. The castle has some of the most wonderfully eroded sandstone I’ve seen.


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More Thoughts of a Walking Commuter

Finally I get a chance to update my blog! It has been a busy week or two on all fronts and right now I’m just really looking forward to getting a bit of a break over Christmas. It feels like ages since I’ve done anything with my camera and as I have two more days of annual leave to take before the end of the year I’m hoping to put that right soon.

Yes, I’m keeping up with the walking commute. Heaven knows if I really am losing any weight because I still can’t face the idea of stepping onto the scales. There’s also the thought that it seems pointless now, something I should have done before I started all this.

I was wondering whether I would have the fortitude to keep it going on cold, wet, dark days - but they don’t seem to be deterring me. Sure, I’ve had a couple of mornings when I’ve just not wanted to get out of bed - but they used to happen when I was driving to work too.

Blisters are no longer a problem, and haven’t been since I invested in the new shoes and the wonderful Thousand Mile Socks which I would heartily recommend to anyone. I’m getting faster (record time now 1 hour 2 minutes) sweating a bit less and not taking as long to recover - all signs of getting fitter I guess. And yes, I have recently had to move my belt to a previously unexplored notch!

A few reflections on the state of transport, with a particular emphasis on my walking experiences follow. I doubt that this will ever come to the attention of anyone at Leicester City Council - and if it does then I’m sure nothing will come of it other than maybe a sarcastic comment. I have such faith in government!

  • Pedestrian Crossings. These are pretty well useless. They have a button that I think is only there for the pedestrian to take out his / her frustration upon. I generally find that I press the button and then the light doesn’t change until after all the traffic has gone by anyway. Also they just seem to wait for a whole cycle of the traffic lights before they do anything. The amount of time they give you to cross the road is fine for me, but I would imagine that it’s nowhere near enough time for those who are little slower, have small children with them etc. Useful thing seen during my trip to Colorado earlier this year - pedestrian crossings that count down how much time you have left to cross the road in seconds. Good idea - why can’t we have those? Oh and make the lights give a bit more favour to the pedestrians please. Give us a chance to cross the road more often. Worst junction to cross : University Road and Regent Road. I have to wait for ages every time I cross this. Streams of cars and busses pass in all directions, great herds of pedestrians build up and wait for minute, after minute, after minute until a mad scramble to cross the road in the incredibly short time given to us. Leicester City Council, hint : this is University Road. There are a lot of students and students walk a lot.
  • Fumes. Humm, Leicester was declared Britain’s ‘First Environment City’ more years ago than I can remember (I’ve only just discovered this web site - I will be off to read it shortly). If this is the case then how come we have such an abysmal public transport system? How come that all the buses are puthering out such choking clouds of diesel? Why is it that I feel a need for a face mask to keep the pollution out of my lungs? (not wearing one yet - but it seems a sensible idea). It’s disgusting. We need more public transport and we need cleaner public transport. Where are the electric buses? Where are the trams? The Leicester Mercury has featured proposal after proposal for ‘new transport systems’ over the years (yes, I remember the diagrams showing just how the monorail would look when it was installed - that must be 20 years ago now). How come not one of them has ever actually happened?
  • Buses. When I first started this whole walking to work initiative I discovered that I could walk all the way into work in the same time it took to get the bus from door to door. That is frankly a terrible service. And for this service the bus company charges £1.50 each way. £3 a day when I can walk it in the same time? It’s a no brainer as far as I’m concerned.
  • Motorists. And yes, I am still one of these, though not as often as previously. Motorists please remember to use your indicators - they’re those little orange flashing lights that tell people you’re intending to make a turn. I know it’s a lot of effort, I mean you have to move your fingers all of an inch or two to activate them - but your sacrifice really will be appreciated not only by other vehicles, but by people trying to cross side roads. Pedestrian crossings - these are those areas where people (children, your grandma and yes, even fat middle aged IT professionals) are trying to move to the other side of the road. They tend to be designated by traffic lights, stripes on the road - that kind of thing. People are both soft on the outside and crunchy on the inside and yes, they are real people with lives of their own and families and people who love them even though they are walking. Please do not move your car onto a pedestrian crossing if there is no space to move fully over it. Believe me, doing this does not make you look smart, it does not make you look clever - it makes you look a total tosser who doesn’t know how to drive. If you can’t see the pedestrian crossing then you really shouldn’t get into a car again until you’ve had your eyes checked. Same goes for if you can’t see to the other side of the pedestrian crossing for detection of enough free space for your car. Ok? I recently saw a news article on the BBC web site about some bollards that had been installed in Manchester that sink into the road to let busses pass and then rise up again after they’ve gone by (really, really well worth watching the video, so much so I’m going to repeat the link here though I had to change the link to YouTube as I couldn’t get the Beeb webby to play for some reason). We could do with those installing at pedestrian crossings. Maybe that would get the message over to drivers? We have those little square metal stud things in the road either side of the crossings (what do they actually do by the way?) - how about swapping those for some of these bollards? Please?


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You know it’s going to be a bad day when…

…You’ve walked to work, worked up a good sweat, go have a shower… and then the fire alarm goes off *rolls eyes*. I’m going to catch my death…

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These Feet Are Made For Walking - Part 2

It’s over a week since my last post on this subject and after receiving quite a bit of encouragement both online and in ‘The Real World’ I thought I’d post an update.

Earlier today I noticed that a fellow member of the Tips From The Top Floor forums, Mandy, had obviously traced my blog (not hard, it’s in my sig on every post there) and left me some very encouraging words. Although weight loss wasn’t a primary initiative for starting to walk into work, thinking about it - it ain’t a bad bonus! I had no idea how many calories I would burn up doing the walk and finding out (roughly) has rather surprised me!

Okay, here’s the truth. I have no idea how much I weigh. Well, I’ll revise that a bit, I do have some idea, but that idea is a very nasty one and I don’t want to step on a pair of scales to find out. So, in looking at charts to find out how many calories I’m burning I’m making a rough guess, a very rough guess. But it is going to be over 1000 calories a day, pretty well over I think. Of course, the law of diminishing returns is going to apply here - as I start to lose weight it’ll take less effort to walk so I’ll use fewer calories - bummer!

I keep looking down to see if there’s any signs of my feet poking out from beneath my belly, but they remain distant strangers. Which is probably just as well considering what I’ve put them through recently! A few people have said that I look as if I’ve lost some weight, but I’ve not noticed any change myself and I think they are just being ‘encouraging’ - and thanks to them for that!

The blisters I gave myself a couple of weeks ago are still healing really but they’re not a problem. No, the problems seem to be working up from my feet. At the moment it’s my ankles and shins which seem to be feeling the punishment most. I guess it might be the impact of walking on concrete and tarmac all the time, but there really isn’t an alternative on my route into work.

I am working my way up gradually, that’s something I’d not pointed out before. So I started at a couple of days a week, I’m up to three days now. As Mandy pointed out in her comment, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to go from nothing to 45 miles a week. I’m at 27 miles a week now, and that’s 27 miles more than I did before. Today I had a ‘rest day’ and used the car. The only side of driving into work that I like is that I can get out of bed later. I really would rather be walking it now.

Why do I prefer walking? Well, as I said in my first posting on this subject it gives me time to think about things and it means I get to work less stressed. Okay, I do get to work hotter and sweatier - but there are showers so that’s not a problem. Walking also helps me to actually see some of the world around. Sure, it’s all through suburbia so nothing stunning to look at, but I notice things more when I’m walking - the leaves on the trees, the smells in the air (bleugh - exhaust fumes) - there’s a baker about half way in that I didn’t even know was there before and now I get a wonderful blast of fresh baked bread as I walk by. You get to see the same people every day too - others walking back from work or University or whatever. The same faces - you get to recognise people and give them a nod and a smile as you walk by.

I have at least endured a couple of wet morning walks into work now. I was wondering if that would put me off, but it hasn’t. It has shown me that my coat is total pants however! It’s supposed to be waterproof and breathable and it’s neither. It probably started out that way, but I’ve had it for years and I guess it has just given up now. I could really do with a new one anyway. The old one is bright yellow as well as being poor at the job it’s designed for. I bought it with hill walking in mind, thinking that Mountain Rescue would see me more easily in something bright yellow. I’ll have to wait for a bit to get a replacement though given current financial circumstances.

This has been long and rambling, so I’ll finish for now by saying that I do feel so much better since starting the walk. Okay, my legs have ached, my feet have been sore, I’ve got wet, I’ve got cold but the payback is that I’m already feeling much more able to do physical activity of all kinds. Can only be a good thing!

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These Feet Are Made For Walking

Over the last few weeks I’ve been experimenting with walking to and from work each day. It’s 4.5 miles each way and takes me just over an hour to walk. Now, crazy as it might sound - it can take me very nearly that long to drive to work sometimes. And taking the bus takes about the same as walking from door to door. Weighing things up I decided that it might be worth giving it a bash.

I used to pay money to go to a gym and I remember thinking at the time that if I just walked to the gym rather than driving, well - I wouldn’t need to go to the gym and I could save myself some money!

I’ve learned a lot from my experiments over the last few weeks. Good shoes are essential, as are good socks. I gave myself awful blisters from wearing poor shoes and socks that let my feet slip around too much. So this weekend I invested in some good Merrell shoes and a pair of Thousand Mile walking socks. These have two ’skins’ to prevent your foot from rubbing. Great investment!

The new regime is going pretty well now that I’m over the blister problems. Every time I walk I’m feeling less knackered and I’m sweating less even on a relatively mild day like today. Energy and stamina haven’t been a problem at any point, although I do notice that I’m ‘recovering’ more quickly already.

Walking gives me time to think about things and is one hell of a lot less stressful than driving to work. The traffic is so bad where I live that I would usually arrive at work stressed out before I even began work. Walking gives me time to think about the day ahead and I get to work feeling energised, alert, awake and alive.

I’ll just have to see if I can convince myself to keep up with it during the wet, dark, icy months that are ahead now!


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