Charlie's Blog: Plain Vanilla Walking


Plain Vanilla Walking

People don't want just vanilla. They want 31 flavors.

Walking seems like a basic activity. You put one foot in front of another. That's it. Yet, some people can't stop there. It's not enough to have the plain vanilla flavored walking. They want more. They have to go beyond and change it up.

The first thing many walkers choose is some form of weighted walking. This might be ankle weights and wrist weights which are generally considered bad for your joints. Others opt for a weighted vest or a backpack for rucking which are bad for your back. All of this weighted walking represents new avenues for injuries that you supposedly gave up when you quit running.

The second thing is hiking. Walkers like to spend time in nature, so hiking is a natural progression for many of these people. A lightweight day hike seems sane, but things get serious with thru hiking which involves more gear and sleeping on the ground overnight. You can also end up as food for bears.

A third thing is Nordic walking which is walking with those poles like you're cross country skiing. This activates your upper body and gets your arms into the game until you lose those poles. Everyone in the neighborhood will look at you like you're an idiot with those poles.

A fourth thing is power walking which is just brisk walking. Some people put more arm swing into it, but I think it comes down to taking more steps per minute. I don't see this as anything but plain vanilla walking.

A fifth thing is race walking which is where people walk as fast or faster than joggers while keeping one foot in contact with the ground. This is an effort to turn walking into a sport. The movement is unnatural and very difficult. It amounts to running without breaking into a run. It has one advantage over running. It has a low injury rate. The downside is that runners will tell you that race walking isn't a sport. On this, I agree with the runners.

This brings me back to plain vanilla walking. Why do people feel the need to add to or change their walking program? Is it boredom? Is it a lack of self-confidence?

There is a famous saying that pigs get fed while hogs get slaughtered. The gist of that statement is that greed will undo the good. For some reason, the fitness space is prone to hogs getting slaughtered. CrossFit is the most extreme example of this. The Gentle Reader can probably recall all sorts of other fitness fads. These fads come and go which is why I prefer the tried and true over novelties.

I like plain vanilla walking. One day, I'd like to put a water bottle and a sandwich in my backpack and spend the day at a state park. I am not there at the moment, but it appeals to me. I don't see this as being outside plain vanilla walking.

I prefer plain vanilla walking. I don't care for extra equipment or to turn it into a sport. I keep it simple and boring. It works for me.