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July 2021


A week ago, on something of a whim, I signed up for the Cornhusker State Games 2021 CSG Walk, which was held yesterday morning. In this volkswalk-style event, participants were given a choice of two routes and a window of time to complete their walk. (You can learn more about this type of non-competitive event at the American Volkssport Association.) I chose the longer route—pictured below—and started out just before 7:00 AM. We had good cloud cover making the morning temperature bearable. But the humidity was off the chart from my first step; even if I were in better physical shape, I’d still have been flop-sweating within the first mile.

A screenshot from an exercise tracking app, highlighting a roughly six-mile walking route through residential areas in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Cornhusker State Games 2021 CSG Walk. This was the longer route offered to participants; the other path was approximately two miles. (Screenshot from the Map My Walk mobile app provided by Under Armour.)

This part of the city is a tree-shrouded older residential area, including some of the fancier Country Club streets. Passing through the neighborhood surrounding the golf course, I encountered a fluffy black cat lounging on a garden path, a gaunt red fox carrying a breakfast catch, and a City Council member out for a (personal) morning jaunt. Other foot traffic was light, even counting the joggers and dog walkers who shared the route.

The walk was lovely, though the long route pushed me towards the edge of my endurance. Exercise walking is something I just haven’t been doing, and it shows. But with some focused stretches, good socks and shoes, and a judicious application of ibuprofen, I recovered from the exertion easily enough. (A late-morning nap with our cats also helped.)

Several years ago, I was jogging 5K routes. Since then, I’ve fallen into a routine of constantly having to re-form basic exercise habits. I can almost trick myself into believing that’s the same as actually keeping those habits—but no. Committing to yesterday’s event without overthinking it is probably what got me through it, bypassing my uneasy brain. Maybe that touch of managed recklessness is the habit to develop first, and the rest will more easily follow.