Still Walking after All These Years

It’s early Wednesday afternoon. I just sat down after crossing the 8000-step mark on my way to today’s 10,000. There’s a reason I stopped to write this. A few minutes ago, I passed the 19-million mark! That adds up to 8114 miles and 32.64% of the earth’s circumference. One step at a time. (Notice I didn’t round up to 33%. I don’t round up, not when I’m counting words, and not when I’m counting steps!)

I did inside steps today and yesterday both. When I’m outside on my “running track” front driveway, I can march off a mile in 31 minutes flat. Today, inside, the same distance took 45 minutes. What’s the difference? Outside, my route includes long straightaways as well as some gentle curves and big circles. My inside route includes lots of tight corners and small circles which will become even smaller once the Christmas decorations go up. Yesterday and today, however, with alternating flurries of snow and sleet, inside steps are the order of the day.

That’s the result of hard-won experience. Several years ago, I was outside marching away when I noticed that the front driveway was frosting up. Deciding to finish walking inside, I came in through the front door and started toward our bedroom. Unfortunately, the soles of my Skechers were still icy. Once I set floor on the slick entryway tile, I went airborne and did a close reenactment of a Wonder Woman flight. I was pretty much horizontal at eye level when my face sideswiped the door jamb. Then I tumbled to the floor. I hit hard enough that the silver chain on my necklace broke and disappeared, never to reappear, not even when we removed the carpet and installed hardwood a year or two later. And guess what? That year someone gave me a Wonder Woman tee-shirt for Christmas!

I’m not one to take selfies, but I took one the next morning. I’m not posting it for good reason. There’s not a doubt in my mind that it would instantly go viral. It would also frighten small children, but trust me, the resulting bruises were spectacular. So no, when it’s slushy outdoors, I walk inside, tight corners or not.

As I walk along in my comfortable shoes with their arch-support insoles, I often think about the people who suffered their way through the Bataan Death March. I doubt most of those poor folks had shoes at all as they trudged through the jungle. A couple I knew in Bisbee were part of that, and I know that being without shoes was probably among the least of their hardships.

I don’t know exactly how long I’ve been doing my steps—six years now or maybe seven. The doctor who first put me onto this path has long since retired. And I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep it up. When I’m out where I know the territory, I can walk at a pretty good clip, but when I’m in unfamiliar places, I’m a bit tottery—not a “little old lady” but a “tottery” one.

And now that I’ve written this down, I’ll get up and finish. By the time the day is over, I’ll have a small down payment on the next benchmark—twenty million steps here I come.

33 thoughts on “Still Walking after All These Years

  1. That is so neat. A couple months ago I took a pretty bad fall on my bike and the selfie is NOT pretty but, only broke my helmet, not my head.

  2. I am 83, and having been doing HIIT workouts since I was 35. Please find a high school track and do your walking there. Concrete surfaces are not long-term joint or arch friendly. Falls on concrete can result in severe hip damage, which is of particular concern to people in our age group.

  3. As usual, you are always an inspiration to keep moving! Makes me ashamed of the days when I was too lazy to walk through the house around each room to finish making my 10,000 steps. Glad to hear you know now to stay indoors when inclement weather is in your area. At our age, “Staying Safe” takes priority over everything.

  4. Kudos to you for your dedication to your daily steps! I’m sure that’s a large part of the reason for your writing never being the kind we fans get tired of: you keep the blood circulating through your veins and therefore the oxygen feeding your brain. The fresh air doesn’t hurt either, I’m sure, WHEN IT’S NOT SLIPPERY!

  5. Keep moving. At one point if my life I owned a small coffee shop. A 90 year old man started to come in every day. I became a regular stop on his daily routine.
    Every morning he would garden, have lunch, go see his financial advisor, coffee shop and have dinner out.
    He was a pilot in WW2, had so many stories. What I learned from him do not sit down and let life pass you by.
    I also have a 10,000 step goal, it has been 4 years.
    Good luck and I love your books

  6. I should have also mentioned that during inclement weather, we do mall walking up here in the Great White North!

  7. My BIL was an Air Force officer. In the 70s he was stationed in the Phillipines. My sister loved it. I went to visit one summer. It RAINED, 80 inches in July at Clark Air Force Base. My sister got her private pilot’s license at the aero club on the base. One of my fondest memories is the time we flew down to Manila and did a touch and go landing.on Corregidor Island. It did finally stop raining. Your mention of the terrible death march reminded me of my much more pleasant memories.

  8. Thanks for the inspiration. I needed it! Just getting over Covid and your books have been lifesavers. Now to get back to my steps!

  9. Keep it JA……kudos……my walking is in the water at the local rec center in the “walking river”…..two and a half hrs steady every day…still fighting health issue here and had finally headed from many numerous surgery’s…… was inactive for so long nobody’s fault but my own…..hope the family and critters are all fine out your way. Still reading lots…… mostly your works! So take care ….. your “Northern Arizona Stalker”…..(aka Dann)

  10. I work on steps inside and out, too! Luckily our house is quite open downstairs so it is easy to get in a lot of steps inside.

    My daily goal right now is 7000 daily steps. It used to be 10,000, but 3 years ago the breast cancer I had in 2010 metastasized to my bone marrow. It affected my enegy level first, and then the meds I had to take hit it drastically. I was doing excellent to get 3000 in a day!
    Now I’m on a new med thst doesnt affect my energy level as much, but it can cause hand/foot syndrome, making the palms and soles burn and peel. Even when this doesn’t happen, my soles and palms feel slightly swollen and irritable, which makes walking more difficult.

    However, I march on, doing what I can! I find my best step days are when I go to the grocery store! ?

  11. Wish I had your habit of walking. Today is my birthday, and at 78, I have probably walked a lot since I didn’t drive until I was 30 and living in New York City, I walked everywhere. Now, due to some physical limitations, I concentrate on the little steps each day – to and from the mail box, etc.
    Bless your heart, Judy! And keep walking!

  12. Just thought of this. My mom had Alzheimers. When she first started going down hill, she moved in with us. I decided that I was going to walk with her. At first she couldn’t get to the end of our not very long driveway. Got longer until she was doing 2-3 miles a day. One of my sisters and my brother came to visit one day and we went for a walk. There was a very steep hill that my brother and sister could barely get up and mom went like she was on the flat land. She just loved it until she reached the point that she was no longer mentally functional and she had to go to a memory care unit

  13. I might add: as you grow older, your sense of space–proprioception–diminishes. In other words, you collide with objects you would have missed twenty years ago. That’s why exercise should be in a safe environment, such as a high school track, and should not be up and down your stairs or around your kitchen island.

    • Thank you for your concern about my knees. The problem is, caregiving and being away from home for the amount of time it takes to do my steps don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

  14. I’ve always been a fast walker, in a hurry to get where I want to go. A few weeks ago as I was leaving Fred Meyer’s a gentleman remarked I sure walk fast. I told him I’m an older model, I only have one speed. Lately I’ve had pain in my right knee, probably arthritis, and it’s has slowed me down. Now I keep hearing my dad’s voice in my head, “Etta, I keep telling you, it’s all those birthdays you keep having.” Moral to the story? Keep walking as long as you can and have a wonderful day.

  15. tottery? try those walking poles–they improve stability and also give an upper body workout.

  16. Dearest Judy,
    Awesome determination and accomplishment…. Among your many admirable qualities, this has to be #1…keeping you going, keeping you healthy and continuing gifting us w/your unique talents.
    At 85, I’m doing well…but, only wish I had started the daily walking habit earlier.
    Still working at getting this “growing up” thing together. You are truly an amazing person.
    Suzanne Owens

    • The walking poles are a great help. I use mine all over and carry some in the car for use too. They are a great conversation starter too. Kids love them.

  17. I am the worst person about physical exercise. I didn’t get credit for my phys ed class in college because I cut class too much.

    I agree with other folks that as we age we have trouble with balance. I watch where I walk and stay inside when the weather is snowy. Luckily, we haven’t any here in CT this year.

    I’m slowly decorating for Christmas. Have a lot of things I have made from pine cones that I sprayed gold. Nothing fancy.

  18. You seem to be doing fine in your driveway, provided it is not icy- It’s hard to argue with 19 million steps!
    I have always loved to walk, which works well in New York City- However, a few years ago I had a torn meniscus in my right knee- The M.D. gave me a seried of lubricating injections in the knee, and I can walk as well as before- The main problem I have is that stairs have been a big challenge for me since then- Both up and down, and I really need a bannister to hold onto- I also “graduated” to running shoes and arch supports- When I did so I wondered how on earth I was able to walk with 2″ heels all those years! It was a great relief to trade fashion for comfort-

  19. You are such an inspiration to me! I believe I read in an earlier post that you were doing 15000 steps a day, so that became my goal. I was meeting that consistently until this summer, when a bad step caused some pain, so I eased off. Then the smoke kept me in most of October and into November, now the cold and snow. I’ve gotten lazy. You’ve given me another goal to work towards. I listen to books while I walk, and am anxiously awaiting your next release.

  20. You are inspirational with your steadfast walking. Your commitment often comes to mind as I head off to the gym.

  21. I’ve been walking for years getting at least 10,000 steps every day. I loved the experience and and missing it right now because I’ve injured both of my feet in the last month. I haven’t been for a walk in such a long time and I’m feeling just like a slug. I just hope and pray I get my feet back soon. And my poor sore ribs. Bad fall.

  22. Thanks for the encouragement! I easily make 10,000 when its nice outside but not as motivated to do the indoors ones. Going to get back on track for the winter thanks to your post! I started in January 2021 after reading your new years post and bought an improved fit bit this summer so I might as well use it well!

  23. This weekend it was Beau on a cruise to Alaska. “Birds of Prey”. My favorite Beau book. I’ve never wanted to go on a cruise, but it is interesting to read how they operate. Several sub plots which come out ok at the end.

    I’m recommending all of Jance’s books as Christmas presents. It’s hard to choose, but all are enjoyable.

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