Saturday 7 January 2017


I can't cycle,and I can't run. I can just about still walk though so that is what I am going to do remain vaguely active. Four to five miles a day is the plan, which should hopefully prevent me from becoming hugely lardy during these dark winter months. More hugely lardy I mean. I don't have one of these fitness band things - they make you look like you're on day release - instead I can just use a little gizmo on my phone that somehow tracks the steps I have taken. I've measured the length of my average step, and so now this thing can tell me exactly how far I have toddled under my own steam. And of course part of the fun is that you can set targets, and everyone likes a goal. Think of it as a type of list....

Now ideally I wanted to set a daily target so that I could always feel progress, so I thought about a nice round number of 10,000 steps, which for me is the equivalent of about 4.6 miles. The trouble is that there are days where I simply won't be able to do that. The sun doesn't rise until 8am at the moment which is the time I need to be going to work, so birding in the morning is a non-starter. This leaves the commute and then Canary Wharf at lunch time, but I can say with near certainty that the nice block of time I have reserved in my calendar every day will instead be taken up by a very dull but no doubt highly critical meeting that I simply have to be in or the world will end. I have to be doing something whilst walking (like birding), I am not going to walk around in the dark at the end of the day for the sake of it, so instead I am setting a weekly target whereby I can make up any shortfall on other days. 4.6 miles a day adds up to 32.2 miles. That's a silly number, so I've increased it to 35 miles a week, or about 76,000 steps. This adds up over a year to 1,750 miles, which is another nice round number. I mean, wow, that's a seriously long way isn't it? London to Lanzarote. 67 marathons! Like all good intentions, I started on the first of January. A Sunday, so my walking week is Sunday to Sunday - leaving me Saturday to catch up if I've been rubbish during the week. 

Here's a synopsis of the first week:

24,636 - Jan 1st year-listing on the patch, 57 species seen.
11,252 - Jan 2nd year-listing on the patch, 1 new species (a Linnet - there you go, birding content right there) added!!
9,609 - Jan 3rd - not too bad all things considered, going to Greenwich helped.
7,917 - Jan 4th - first day back at work, managed a lunchtime stroll and saw eight birds.
10,399 - Jan 5th - second day back at work, this is easy!
3,255 - Jan 6th - worked from home. This is almost entirely going up and down the stairs for cups of tea.
6,014 - Jan 7th, today so far (7pm)

All of this with a severed something-or-other ligament too, and four nearly-severed other ones, I am surprised my foot is still attached. Yes, I am a hero. Anyway, despite all the charging around Wanstead that first weekend I was still looking at a shortfall of around 9,000 steps that I needed to make up today. Luckily I am on the move - travelling again - so I expect I'll manage it. 3,000 to go as I type this and I still need to go and find a highly calorific dinner. Easy. But imagine if I had had two poor days like Jan 6th? I would really be struggling, probably needing to walk up and down a plane aisle about a hundred times. On holiday I walk loads, so I am expecting that I will start this new week very positively. Can I keep it going though, like I sustained my cycling to work regime hem hem?

Of course the real disappointment is that walking burns off practically no calories, only marginally more than breathing, or at least that is what I am led to understand. My average distance uses up around 500 calories. I can eat that many in about half a minute if I try really hard. One normal size double-decker (460 kcal) and half a biscuit. On a birding day out I reckon I must get through several thousand calories made up entirely from junk. But it is better than nothing, and it gets me moving and outside.

Rereading this I think I sound like an octagenerian.... Also I have never been able to run so my first sentence should be read with a pinch of salt. 


  1. Take it from me Jono, your walking distance aim is way way too much.
    I'm a runner and able to knock out ten milers, but only average around 30 miles per week total. Usually, not even that. It's time on one hand and physical limitations on the other.
    Better to start on a manageable distance and simply aim to beat that.

    1. I'll see how it goes. At the moment I'm easily surpassing 5 miles a day but that's cos I'm on holiday (took your advice).

  2. I agree with Ric - I'd suggest 1,000 steps a day or less even. I mean, what if it rains on the catch-up saturday? Or you have to go, dare I say, twitching? All those hours in the car to Cornwall, jiggling your leg surreptitiously, trying to fool your phone app into counting more steps!

    There should be a sweepstake on this really!

    And why can't you cycle anymore? Waaaaaaay more fun than walking!

  3. Quick question - did you take that image specifically for this post? Or was it one of those "library images" you can get on the internet? You should approach both the binocular & choc bar manufacturers to see if they'd be interested in shelling out for some product placement on your blog!