Are You Up for the Long Haul?
At the completion of walking a long event or long hike many people say, “I feel like I can do ANYTHING!!” What a great feeling, when you know that challenges can be overcome and that you are capable of great things.
When you focus on walking well, consistently, over the span of months or years, you not only build aerobic, cardiovascular and core muscle strength, you build the strong fiber of an intangible inner strength, an emotional/psychological core strength that carries into how you approach your whole life.
The long walk is your longest weekly walk – a crucial element in any fitness program.
It just so happens that the weekly long walk helps you build the substance, the wherewithal, to help you build the life you want to live.
If you’re just getting started with a walking fitness program, your weekly long walk might be anything from two miles to a 5K. If you’re a more seasoned walker, your long walk might be 1-3 hours or more. It’s different for everyone.
Physically, the long walk develops aerobic capacity by building more extensive capillary beds in your lungs and muscles, giving you better oxygen uptake. Yes, it does that, but the intangible benefits from walking longer distances can be even more important. The weekly long walk is where you build duration, the ability to sustain mental attention by practicing mind/body focusing consistently over an extended period of time
Duration, in ChiWalking® terms, means being in the present, moment-by-moment, listening to and responding to your body; a skill we could all use in our everyday lives. When I think of duration, worlds like patience, persistence and consistency come up…intangible attributes that improve the quality of your life.
With ChiWalking, the long walk is not just about walking for longer and longer periods of time. It’s about learning to focus, to relax, to feel the joy of moving. The weekly long walk is where you can surprise yourself with how enjoyable 3 or 5 or 12 miles can be.
Katherine and I went out for a longer hike the other day. We knew we had a couple of hours to enjoy being outside. We walked quietly together and I worked on nose-breathing, being light on my feet, keeping my perceived rate of exertion steady and my relaxation level high, regardless of whether I was going uphill, downhill or on level ground. It felt like we had all the time in the world leaving me with a nice sense of relaxed anticipation.
Duration, holding an intention and focus over a long period of time, creates an inner substance that cannot be created in any other way. Short, quick learning does not necessarily engender depth or wisdom. When you add in the factor of time the results are on a completely different level. The longer you practice something, the deeper it affects you and the more you begin to learn it, experiencing it from the inside out.
Feel the difference practice over time makes. When done mindfully and well, it can expand your concept and understanding of self. It builds inner strength, decisiveness, will power; skills that can take you wherever you want to go.