On Walking

I started walking as an alternative to the Metro or the bus. I like both, but I also like getting to see DC, and public transportation sometimes blocks you off from the city. So that’s why I started walking, which I was actually doing last summer. However, I wasn’t very religious about it. Then my sister told me she was getting married, and I wanted to lose a lot of weight by the wedding (about two weeks ago), so I determined (back in March), to resume my walking, to watch my food intake, and to drop weight.

And, originally: that’s all it was. I would walk home from my part-time job every night that I could. That’s two miles. On weekends that I worked there, I’d walk to and from work. On days I didn’t, I’d walk to the Target in Columbia Heights and back. And then I started taking walks through the city. And when I say “through the city”, that’s a lie, because I usually stick to the same areas: Georgetown, Dupont, Adams Morgan, the National Mall. And usually there was nothing exciting about these. I’d walk south on Connecticut to Dupont, then over to Georgetown, then up Wisconsin, and my feet would ache and I’d be done and eat a whole bag of Ginger Snap cookies and several cold glasses of milk.

And then one day, I went for a walk. My goal was to get to Georgetown University, where I’d never been. Walked out of my apartment, over to 37th Street, then south. Hit Georgetown, they were prepping for some alumni thing, so I beat feet east into Dupont. I was going to catch a bus to Target, but I decided to walk up 18th St. instead. When I got home, I mapped out my route and realized I’d walked over eight miles, which was BY FAR the longest walk I’d done. I mean, maybe not EVER, but certainly since I’ve been in DC.

And then the following week I walked out of my apartment with no real clear plan of what to do on my walk, except that I wanted to see the Library of Congress. I’ve seen it before, I’ve been in it before, I just wanted to go see it again. So I walked down to it, and I sat, and I read, and then I got up, and I walked and I walked and I walked — I walked across the Mall, over to Georgetown, then up Wisconsin. 12.2 miles is what Google maps said, and, can I just say — holy shit?

And I love walking. Love it. Love people watching, and city watching, and finding obscure monuments I knew nothing about, things I never would’ve seen if I were in a car, on a bus, or sitting on a train. On days I don’t work my part time job, I’ll get off the train several stations before or after my destination and walk home from those points.

I didn’t even GET to the gym until last week, when it was so unbearably hot out I couldn’t walk out the front door of my building without immediately becoming a sopping damp mess. Even then, I only went for the cardio machines.

If there’s a point I’m trying to make, it’s this: I’m fortunate in that I live in DC and walking is a legitimate alternative to taking the Metro, I can walk and get to my destination! I know that’s not always the case in the Burbs: highways, no sidewalks, etc. Basically, I had to find where I could begin exercising that had a moderate impact on my life — and from there, it’s just grown. It’s like in war: you just need a beach head, and then will and determination will sustain and expand it.

7 thoughts on “On Walking

  1. Ever considered biking? It may not have the calorie-burning aspect that you’re looking for, but it certainly hits on that ability to see the whole city from a unique vantage point, often quite rapidly. It’s completely reoriented my life.

  2. Hear, hear! If only the planners of suburban areas could attach some importance to walkability, we might not have the sort of blight the suburbs are famous for.

  3. You are lucky to live in DC, especially if you love to walk. It’s so great to be able to randomly wander around and explore – there’s so much great stuff to see. You’re right that it’s not like that out here in the suburbs, so now one of my favorite things about travelling is having the opportunity to do a lot of walking and seeing everything by foot.

    Now you’ve got me feeling nostalgic for my favorite summer of all time. I sublet a tiny walkup in NYC and went for extremely long walks every single day and ended up being in the best shape of my life.

  4. I like this post. I love walking, too, & should be more inspired by your commitment to pedestrianism… but I’m still vain enough to hate sweating, which means walking only works for me if I’m walking home, where I can shower… ack.

  5. Great post! One of my favorite joys of living in the city is that I get to walk everywhere! I love walking tours. BTW, if you haven’t done the self-guided walking tours through the various neighborhoods it is never too late to start. I have done the U St., Columbia Heights. Mt Pleasant, Adams Morgan, and Dupont walks and I love getting history with my walking/sightseeing.

  6. Boo — As a matter of fact, I have a bike collecting dust in my building. However, it’s been years since I’ve done any biking, and my leg muscles just don’t have the power to get me up an incline. One of the reasons I’m spending so much time on the exercise bikes is so that I can spend time on my actual bike.

    Brando — Amen! I hate the ‘burbs. At least some suburban areas (like Arlington & downtown Bethesda) are more like cities. Well, I mean, they are cities, but they’re DC’s burbs.

    Kate — Yeah … you’d have to get over sweating. There’s a lot of that involved.

    Chuckabilly — I have a book, and those cards, but I haven’t done one of them yet. I do plan on it, though.

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