Walking – the new running

I’ve been grounded from running for the last few weeks while I take a rest, allow my hammy to settle and encourage my hips level out.

It was just my luck that I needed a break as the best running weather Qatar has seen for years (cool daytime, max temperatures of around 15C) arrived. Bad planning or what? So not wanting to miss out on the inclement weather, I’ve been walking, and walking a fair bit.

Of course, walking is not that new to me as an ultra runner. Not being the next Kilian Jornet, I do a fair bit of it on any distance past 50km, rethink, I actually do a fair bit of it on any mountain ‘run’. And I’ll definitely get in a few solid weeks walking on the treadmill at incline before any uphill race.


Discovering new quiet places in the city.

Discovering new quiet places in the city.

More recently though I’ve ventured outside and clocked up some miles on the roads. I’ve been trying to break Qatar’s drive-everywhere culture by attempting to find walks with a purpose – just as I do with some of my runs. At weekends I’ve walked from home into the city and back, discovering some new routes on the way. Moving at a slower pace is much better for seeking out those hidden short-cuts and secret pathways. I’ve discovered a great little park-space linking two streets together away from the main drag.

Walking is my thinking time. And I’m not alone, according to several pieces of research which find that humans make the best decisions while on the move. I guess this is something our forefathers already knew and that’s why all of the world’s major religions include walking areas (cloisters) in their places of worship.

Walking has always featured heavily in my life. Some of my earliest memories are walking places with my parents. All throughout my infant school years, we walked to and from school. Weekends were spent hiking around the local open-access parks and moorland.

Holidays were spent at my maternal grandmother’s and walk filled. She was a firm

Stepping out.

Stepping out.

believer in the constitutional walk, and looking back I’m guessing trying to exhaust an excitable child, with a stroll around the village. We were out walking every day, across field and farm, rain or shine, whatever the season and I have fond memories of chasing butterflies, learning to identify different hedgerow flowers, and the best ways to avoid getting chased by bulls! She never learned to drive a car and walking was her only way to getting to the village shop, visiting friends, and generally living her life. Eventually a worn out hip slowed her down and she passed away at the ripe old age of 87. I suspect a lack of mobility was what finally led to her demise.

The lesson here is surely that we are built to move. We don’t need to go fast, we don’t even need to run, but we need to move and should all make the effort to get out there find the best in our surroundings.

With that, I’m about to toddle over to the local veg shop.

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