27 Day Walking Challenge

It’s time to do an update on the 30 Day Walking Challenge that I initiated on September 29th. Inspired by the amount of walking I did while on recent trips, the intention was to walk daily for a month, in a new location every day.

This was a great activity for me, interesting and fun because of the challenge of picking a different trail or area each day. I saw tremendous benefits, health wise. And then the unexpected happened. A problem with my left knee developed, and on Day 26, the Walking Challenge became a challenge to walk. I toughed it out that day and managed a short walk. However, recognizing I needed to focus on healing my knee, the 30 Day Walking Challenge ended on Day 27, after an extremely short, and painful, stroll.

I have to admit initial disappointment at this surprise ending to the challenge. However, I am not sorry that I created this game for myself. I thoroughly enjoyed the daily walks, and especially delighted in walking in a different place each day.

Most of my walks were outdoors. There is nothing more restorative to my soul and more centering to my body than walking through woods and along rivers. These meanderings through nature were meditative to me.

Destinations included the Joplin area, Springfield, and northwest Arkansas.

I also walked in each of Joplin’s city parks, discovering all have paved paths that loop around the perimeters. Each park offered different views, and most had some form of water on the property.

I met other walkers, joggers and cyclists at these parks, and appreciated the camaraderie that exists between people who desire to be healthier. Most simply smiled or said hello as we passed each other. One enterprising young man at Leonard Park impressed me with his energy, and the game he had created to challenge himself physically. He tossed a frisbee, and then ran to retrieve it. Over and over he threw the disc and then ran to pick it up and toss it again. We chatted about health and the necessity of challenging ourselves in playful ways.

I met my intention of walking with each of my adult children, exploring a neighborhood, a new trail and a family fun farm complete with a corn maze. I traveled to Columbia to walk across Mizzou’s beautiful campus with my grandson Dayan. Together we ventured downtown for a shared meal together.

My sister accompanied me on a walk that was impossible for me until recently. We climbed to the top of a bluff along Shoal Creek and gazed across the valley below. Greg was my walking companion on many of my treks. I appreciated each person who took the time to walk alongside, chatting quietly, and experiencing the beauty around us.

A couple of times, I resorted to cleverness, to fit the walk into a busy day. During an afternoon or running errands, I parked the car as far as possible from each stop, and once inside the store, did a lap around the perimeter. Doing this at five different stores gave me plenty of walking that day.

I only walked at the mall once, on a chilly overcast day. I combined that walk with visits to a couple of new vintage stores that had opened in the mall. Another day, when a sharp cold wind seemed to cut through me, I ended up at the new Joplin Library and walked around the perimeter several times before heading into the stacks. Funny story from there. The next day I ran into a woman who said she saw me, walking around the library, and she asked if that was one of my walking challenges.

Overall, I am very pleased with the results of the challenge. I felt energized by the daily walks. I enjoyed visiting different locations. My body responded by toning up, especially in my calves, thighs, butt and abs. I felt really good during those days of walking, and experienced an increase in stamina and flexibility.

Did the walking contribute to inflammation in the tendon and muscles around my left knee? The honest answer is, I don’t know. Intuitively, I feel this is a form of old energy working its way out. It is something for me to heal, and release. The flare up with my knee was very discouraging at first. I was walking SO well and with such ease. I felt frustrated with my leg, for bringing the walks to a halt, just days before the end of the 30 Day Walking Challenge.

This is part of my journey though. It is, after all, a healing journey, and apparently, I have more healing to do. My intention is to return to the daily walks, as soon as I am able to. After a week of focused care, that has included resting my knee, eating foods that fight inflammation, drinking daily cups of chaga tea and turmeric milk, topical application of Young Living Essential Oils, low impact stretching and brief walks, I am recovering. My knee is healing. I’ve battled impatience. I’ve run the “why’s” through my head and shrugged those off.

What matters is that I allow my knee to heal, by caring for myself in the highest possible ways. And when I can walk without pain, without a limp, with a knee that bends and flexes smoothly, I’ll be back on the trails and looping again around the parks.

30 days on the walking challenge…or 27…it’s all good. I have learned during this month of walking and not walking, and challenge ended up being the key word. I accept the not knowing and not being able to script things out. It is the journey and not the destination. It is during this time of walking in this world that I am growing and discovering new things about myself. Onward and upward.

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