Running vs Walking

or A Runner vs a Walker in Me

I’m a runner. I’m a walker too. Does this make me an inefficient person? Someone who cannot decide on a label? It’s just the way life is, I guess. Call me ambiguous, I’ll explain.

Photos in this post taken during an intentional walk not so long ago at the Croatian coast.

I’ve pointed up before I wasn’t always keen on running. It actually grew on me out of its simplicity and practicality when, as a grown-up, I started realizing I needed to exercise because it was good for me. These days running as a form of exercise is simply part of my life albeit it does get difficult sometimes to get going.

The skies of the day of my 15 km walk where mostly cloudy which was perfect as it was not too hot.

Walker on the other hand I’ve always been. Well, from my first year of life that is. (My mother tells me I’ve learned to walk when 9 months old so I believe it’s fair to say I was in a real hurry to get life under way.) I choose to walk when doing errands if applicable. I choose to explore new places by walking around as much as possible. Isn’t it just the best to go around on foot? One feels grounded, alert, present. The thought sharpens somehow (you need to discipline it at first) and taking it slow, as compared to using any kind of vehicle, although walking needn’t be reduced to slow-paced movement only, is a change per se.

Mediterranean scenery is a lovely setting to take a walk in but it needn’t be the only one.
Not only natural beauty along the way, the man made objects are lovely too.

I always run outdoors no matter what the weather (only heavy rain might stop me), or temperature (a few degrees below zero are doable for a seasoned runner I consider myself to be) or location (foreign city running requires a bit of advance planning but it’s very rewarding). I always run by myself. I never found chatting during a run appealing. In running I discovered an introvert paradise, simply put.

Somewhere around kilometre 4: deterioration is sad and beautiful at the same time.
Where to next?

It’s different for a walker in me. I can do it alone, of course, but I love good company too. I can chat excessively, or not, I can listen actively, or, depending on the company, have a debate, an argument, pour my heart out or contemplate the state of the world. Walking with a friend or a spouse can spark a passionate discussion or just a reflective talk over a sensitive or political or work related issue. If I want (or need) to focus I choose walking by myself. This is when the discipline of thought is instigated.

My feet were made for walking.

Paying attention to your surroundings when walking is dramatically different than paying attention while, say, driving. Or running for that matter. During a run you do open yourself to countryside more, in contrast, again, to using any means of transport, so imagine walking in the same countryside. I compare walking to visiting an art gallery (which one always does on foot, right?): you move from one artwork to the next, attentive and alert, and your mind is kept very busy being perceptive and agile. When you’re done you’re kind of exhausted physically (my back always hurts) and mentally (usually I’m in a need of a drink or at least a cup of coffee).

Walking is also fun. Who knew trees grow from lowest to tallest in a neat row?
‘Cause I’m a wanderer

This sum of physical and mental tiredness after a walk I find compelling; in a way it wakes me up and empowers me bodily. I take that time, I make it as much an exercise as everything else (an errand done, a stress walked off, mission accomplished) and while I’m at it I find my mind playing along (a line of thought, or idea planning, drawn to a close or a developing continuation). Often during a walk, I make a stop, take my smart phone out and type down something that has just occurred to me and needs to be explored further. Walking, I’ve learned, is a useful and fruitful affair.

The sun did come through a few times. Here, approximately half way into my 15 km walk, it did feel a lot like summer.
At the farthest point of my walk I turned inland for a change in scenery (not that I grew tired of the sea though).
I did bring water with me. And some money. At the 12th kilometre I treated myself to a bag of grapes from a roadside vendor.

Most people walk one way or the other. Many not intentionally. There are situations when an act of walking can come in handy specifically: after a good lunch, or a bad one for that matter; exploring a new destination while travelling; as a pastime on a beautiful sunny day. For a healthy person it’s an insignificant task to walk but it isn’t regularly employed. Finding joy in walking is cheap and easy. It’s not tricky to master at all. Nowadays the western civilisation is more times than not all about rapid transformation, efficiency at any cost, change for the sake of change. On the other hand though, the planet is rotating at the same speed still. With the same result. I mean, at the end of a day it is still 24 hours long. Shall we walk?

Nearing the end of my 15 km loop walk I was tired but happy to have taken the time and done it.

Related:

Let’s not allow this to happen via BBC.com

Walking Helps Us Think via Newyorker.com

Benefits of walking via Harvard.edu

Daily walk benefits via Mercola.com

A British article and an Australian one on the subject (via standard.co.uk and betterhealth.vic.gov.au respectfully)