I walk a lot. A couple of days ago I was thinking about how I'd been a walking a lot even when I was young. Since I now have Google Maps, I can check the distances of the routes I used to walk!
Google Maps tells me my high school is around 3.7km away from where we lived back then. I am sure I walked that whole distance at least once, but not often. What I did do fairly regularly was walk down Agham Road and BIR road to my favorite spot on East Avenue, which should be around half that distance, so probably a 15-20 minute walk. The commute home from that spot was easier - 1 jeepney ride vs at least a jeepney and a bus ride + maybe a 1km walk. The downside being walking that route takes me past some shady squatters' areas, so I'd prefer not to do it after dark.
College was a slightly closer to home. The Palma Hall Annex at the University (where I hung out a lot during the first couple of years) was roughly 3.3km from our house. I walked that entire distance at least once - and it was because there was a tropical storm going on and I didn't have any other easy way to get transportation. I would often walk that route at least partway through though, especially in the later years.
(I had the option of taking a tricycle through the same route to get to and from the University, but I seldom availed that route because it was a lot more expensive than the regular 2 jeepney rides from Philcoa. Well, at least until the later years when I got lazier, as the tricycle route was much more convenient.)
It was also a regular occurrence during the college years that I'd have a class at the College of Engineering followed by a class at the Math Building, roughly a 10-15 minute walk, which was more or less the window you got between periods. Most people would instead take an Ikot/Toki jeep, but between waiting for the jeep and the roundabout route, it takes around the same time, so I often preferred just walking.
Another distance I regularly walked during those years would be the length of University Ave down to Philcoa. This was roughly a 1.8km walk from the College of Engineering. Often I would be walking an additional 0.5km or so into Teachers' Village to hang out at a friend's house in that area. (And later take a tricycle home).
Students from the University are so used to walking, it's not uncommon to joke that the term "walking distance" means something else coming from us.
Many years after college I still enjoy walking around the University, though I seldom get to do it.
While digging through some old files looking for something relevant to this post (see below), I found an old essay I had written about going out on late night walks. I believe I haven't posted in anywhere online before, so I'm putting it up on this site, backdated to a rough guess of when I wrote it. I think that these days, going out for a walk at the hour described in that post is not so remarkable for me anymore.
After graduation, my first job was at a company in Ortigas. When I started out, I would often be walking from the Ortigas MRT station to our office building, back and forth, roughly a 1.3km distance.
I didn't have a pedometer then (this was before smartphones or smart watches), but I do remember manually counting the steps as I walked at some point! In fact, I found an old file that had some notes, probably from 2005:
- Shaw MRT Station to Tektite: ~1500 steps
- Pacific bldg to Tektite: ~400 steps
- Tektite to Megamall (Superbowl at Megastrip): ~800 steps
- My seat to CR, and back: ~200steps
(Tektite is our office building)
As the years went on, Metro Manila's traffic situation became worse and worse, and the commute becamse much worse as well. Every so often, this resulted in me having to walk longer distances such as from Cubao to Robinson's Galleria, a roughly 4.7km distance.
The total walking distance from the office to our house was roughly 14km. It would be an insane idea to try to walk that entire distance, which I estimate would have taken me somewhere between 2.5 to 3hrs. I did attempt it a few times but I almost always gave up less than a third of the way through.
After quitting my Ortigas job and going freelance, I had more time for walking longer distances regularly. I tried tracking my step counts using smartphone apps like a Samsung app (forget the name) and Google Fit, but those seemed horribly inaccurate. For a while, I also carried around a 3DS all the time, which also tracks my steps, but the problem with the 3DS is that AFAIK the data there is not exportable. I hope to someday export my data from these past sources and make a stats page somewhere.
These days I use a Fitbit Charge 2, which I've had since 2017! It has lasted a surprisingly long while, although it's pretty close to dying. The display stopped working late last year, but I still use it (it still syncs my step counts to the app).
(My Fitbit goal is currently set to 8k steps per day. I used to have the apocryphal 10k daily target, but I find it a bit too stressful to try to hit that target everyday, it takes so much time, so I set it to the slightly lower target. Whenever I hit that target while I'm out walking, I throw my fists in the air in a silent celebration; it feels great.)
I stopped the daily walks for a while when the pandemic hit. Tried resuming in 2021, but then we got hit by Covid in late 2021 and I was told to take it easy for a while after, so I kept my step counts low for a few months after. Been trying to ramp back up my daily walking since then, and by the end of 2022, I'm back up to a bit more than 8k steps per day, roughly 6-7km total per day. I'm hoping to gradually push that average higher this year, perhaps up to 10k steps per day.