Sitting is awesome

If you’re interested in reading more on ideas presented in the article below, I suggest reading Whole Body Barefoot: Transitioning Well to Minimal Footwear. If you’d like movement instruction via video, start with Alignment Snacks: Walk this Way, Stand this Way.

I turned 40-years old on March 4th, and so, per usual, I wanted to celebrate my birthday with some sort of marching forth. Last year I walked 39 miles the week I turned 39; this year I decided to walk 30 miles on my last day of being in my 30s, as a way to pay homage to them.

I didn’t want to drive anywhere to begin—I wanted to get up early and just walk out the door. I also didn’t want to spend a lot of time walking next to cars, and so the Huz came up with the perfect route that had me walking out my door and up to the Olympic National Forest, mostly staying on the Olympic Discovery Trail.

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One of my oldest friendships is with Karren (who is NOT my oldest friend; you’re welcome Karren). She’s my crazy-fit friend, open for any movement-related thing, like walking all day. My regular walking BFF also joined me for the morning portion before she had to work. All this to say FRIENDS ARE AWESOME. And so is coffee.

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I won’t type out the entire journey (I’ll post some pics at the end), but I will answer the most popular question asked about it: What shoes did you wear?

Here’s some background:

My feet are always weaker at the end of the winter, because I spend a lot more time in shoes and boots. I also walk less. Even though I walk a lot (5 miles a day) and wear minimal boots, it’s still much less foot work than when I’m barefoot almost all day long and hiking lots of miles almost every day. So, my feet, relative to myself, are weak right now.

For this reason, I didn’t want to log that many miles (15 miles more than I’d ever walked before) in a super minimal shoe. I didn’t want to create an injury midway through my hike that would leave me unable to finish the hike or that would be there after the hike was done.

So, I started off in my moccasins because it was cold and rainy and I don’t own any rain boots. These are what I normally wear to hike in the winter (rain or snow), and they were the only thing I had.

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I layered socks per Karren’s advice (she’s a through-hiker and used to doing weeks of  20+ mile days). Toe socks can keep the toes from rubbing which can mean fewer blisters. But around mile 8, my pairs of socks where slipping against each other and I could feel a super-early blister sensation in my heels so I wanted to get the second pair of socks and the boots off—as both were wet, and slipping.

I kept on my toe socks and paired them with an old pair of Earth sandals that I found in my garage. They had no rise, were soft, and not super flexible. A lot of the path we were on was asphalt–and I walk mostly on natural terrain—so I thought something that kept foot loads from being too extreme was most prudent for me given the high mileage.

They worked for another 15 miles, but then, I think, the negative heel started to get to me. Or was it the walking of 23 miles on flat and hard. Really, how could I tell? Either way, my left ankle started to bug me and I wanted to try a new pair of shoes just to mix up the way my ankle was being asked to work.

I borrowed Karren’s Nikes. They were light and flexible, but they did have a positive heel. That was super crazy to walk in a heeled shoe after so long, but the slight downhill (within the shoe, that is) was enough to change the loads to my ankle and I wore them for the rest of the flat stuff.

The last 8 miles we were walking was on the Olympic Discover Adventure Route—unpaved and super-gorgeous, through the forest.

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At this point, I wanted to go barefoot but doing so, I was unable to walk as fast as I could have with shoes. I couldn’t keep up with Karren and, as we were on our last few hours of daylight, I couldn’t keep the speed necessary to accomplish the mileage before dark. So I put socks on for awhile to see if that helped (barely) and finally, back into my sandals.

Now that I’ve done this walk, I think best would have been to wear a minimal athletic shoe; a non-sandal, non-boot type of shoe that’s made for walking or running. I don’t own any of those, so I made do with what I had. (This is sort of my personality type. I am not a “be prepared” kind of person in terms of gear or things; but I do keep myself is as good of a condition as I can. I’ve probably already shared the time I did a triathlon and borrowed a friend’s bike that had no gears and a flat tire. Still, I dominated the swim and run portion, so…).

But believe it or not, the most exciting part of the walk wasn’t what shoes I was wearing.

When we got to Mile 31 (there were only 2 roads intersecting our part of the Adventure Route; one put us slightly under 30 and one slightly over at 31.6 miles, so were meeting our ride at the latter), we got the text: the roads leading to the trail are all closed.

I won’t bore you with the details, but essentially, all the ways to get the car up to us had been blocked with gates and as the sun started going down, we had to hike back out, somewhere between 5 and 7 miles, to where we could get picked up. My ankle had been bothering me the last few (ten?) of the 31 miles, and yet here I was, in the woods, with no other way out but on my own two feet.

I won’t lie, I threw a mental hissy fit, mostly because I was overwhelmed at the thought of walking two more hours. Oh, also, both our phone batteries were about to die, the sun was going down (did I mention we were in the forest at this point), and we didn’t know exactly where we needed to hike to in order to get picked up.

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find, you get what you need.” -Rolling Stones

Then I realized, this is the entire reason I do what I do. Sometimes, the only person to help you is YOU. In this case, my life actually depended on my ability to push myself physically. I was able to hike that long and far because I’ve made it my upmost priority. On March third, I found the edge–of my thirties and of my body. Both have been a gift.

I also wanted to add that sitting is awesome. At least after walking somewhere between 36 and 38 miles.

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30 thoughts on “Sitting is awesome

  1. Awesome Katy! Love hearing the details of your epic walk. I wonder what you’ll do next year…

  2. Absolutely love this Katy! What an entirely epically brilliant way to celebrate your 40th. Happy, Happy Birthday and thank you for sharing your walking and inspiration as ever x

  3. ps there’s a distinct possibility I made up a word there. I’m going to confidently say its ‘proper english’ and see if anyone disputes that (highly likely). You don’t have to publish this bit btw…

  4. Thank you for sharing your adventure and Happy Birthday! You have inspired me to walk 45 miles the week I turn 45 in May.

  5. Wow, just…wow. Thank you for those details, especially the changes you went through with the footwear, and letting us know you had some aches and pains! I was SO impressed (yeah jealous) that you were able to accomplish this trek, and yes I pictured you going trippingly through the woods, full of boundless energy, no issues at all. So it is kind of cool to know that you went to your edge, acknowledged it, rode it and embraced it! Thanks for sharing:)

  6. You’ve inspired me once again! I turn 37 at the end of this month and have been pondering something like doing 37 in a week. I’m supposed to walk a half marathon in May and do two relay walking races in the summer, so it’s set to be a great year already! Thanks for all the work you do! And for giving ME someone to look up to!

  7. Happy Birthday Katy! you have been inspiring me since i discovered your blog and snacks and now I’m smitten with all of it! great post from our leader who is human and awesome!

  8. Because of you and my wise friend Nikki Naab-Levy who recommended you, I switched to Vivo barefoot shoes or Teva sandals for all my walks regardless of weather. I live in Tacoma and walk my dog several miles a day on wet city sidewalks. This is not an advertisement for Vivo as I have returned as many shoes as I’ve purchased from them but when their shoes fit, I wear them. You might try their outdoor shoes or boots—no support whatsoever. Highly recommend. I do not generally wear socks with their shoes but for treks over five miles, it is worth it to to use one of their shoes with a “sock liner” on the inside so the texture of the sole doesn’t bother you. What is nuts about these shoes is how sloppy they fit and yet I have never gotten a blister. The indoor training shoe has a waffle texture on the inside of the sole which made my skin a bit sore after a five-miler. But it is not intended for walking so I switched to a different shoe the next day and was fine.

    BTW, I went barefoot much to the chagrin of my podiatrists who have had me in metal and leather orthotics since age 15. I toe walked until age 11, have equinus and morton’s toe AND morton’s neuralgia. Since going barefoot, all the foot pain I’ve had all my life is gone. G.O.N.E. Lately I’ve been working with Kevin Moore at Reembody.me to learn better movement patterns and am thrilled about resolving other nagging pain in knees, back, shoulders and neck.

    Happy trails and happy birthday! The forth decade is the best. I’m heading toward my sixth one step at a time.

  9. That’s awesome Katy! You’ll never forget it. When I was 24 I did 24 hours of labor giving birth to you! I remember it vividly 40 years later…..

  10. Thanks Katy. So happy that you were born 40 years ago, and for all the knowledge, experience and inspiration that you share with us. It really is the most helpful health resource I’ve found. And your honesty and humour make it fun to read too! 🙂

  11. Thanks for such a wonderful post! I also turn forty next week & I loved your idea of walking 40 miles when you mentioned it on your podcast recently. You are a great inspiration to all! Happy birthday to a fellow Pisces!

  12. An awesome and challenging way to ring in your forties! 40 miles at 50? With minimal trainers of course!

  13. Well done Katy.MMMM-bet it feels good now its finished!The most I have ever walked is a marathon in 6hrs and that wasTOUGH!!!!!! happy birthday- hope you had a party too. I am planning to cycle Mt Ventoux for my 60th next year-already training…….maybe I should revise……..

  14. Happy Birthday Katy and Congratulations! I really love all you’ve done to help us over the years and appreciate you dearly!

  15. Happy Birthday! A couple other things: 1) I love your duck face selfie. 2) When I backpacked for 3 days in the Shenandoah Valley, I wore minimalist running shoes and they worked very well! (I borrowed them from a friend, so they were a tiny bit too big, but other than that I thought they were great.) Of course, I go barefoot a lot, (I run barefoot actually…sorry: but I do it with good alignment 😉 so my ankles were ready for the trek; I’m not sure I’d recommend it if someone didn’t have the ankle stability from going barefoot and was more liable to twist an ankle.

  16. What a great story and epic adventure. I love reading all of the responses and appreciate so much how you inspire so many of us. Thank you for all of your heartfelt work… and for being so fun to read.

  17. Thank you, Katy, for sharing more of the details of your adventure! It is an inspiration for me to keep going with my own efforts too. Cheers!

  18. Katy, CONGRATULATIONS. What an epic tale! What an epic journey! Like Frodo Baggins, the hardest part of the journey was the end. You and your tissues rose to the occasion. May the memory of these 39 miles sustain you all the days of your life.

  19. First~ happy birthday! What an awesome way to enter your next exciting decade!! You’ve probably inspired many 🙂
    From one PT lady to another, I thoroughly appreciated your biomechanical chat on various shoe drops, the adventurous spirit and scenery, and your admission of your mentalent hissy fit and positive resolve~ RIGHT ON!!

    1. PS~ i had Merrell’s “barefoot” / zero drop shoes recommended to me 2 years ago and now they’re all I wear for activities &adventures when not barefoot. They make great waterproof boots too for the colder, wetter times of year

      Eric (Foundation Training) & I are traveling northward this month and next…perhaps we can link up for a hike!

  20. Well done, Katy! I had a similar experience on my 60th birthday when I set out to walk 60 km, a bit more than 37 miles. A friend had given me his slightly used Earth Glide K’s which I thought would be a better choice than my Vibram 5 Fingers. They were a 1/2 size too small but fit when I removed the foot bed liners. Like you, I walked out my front door, semi-prepared. I hadn’t walked more than 10 or 11 miles ever and I hadn’t done that with any regularity or recently. I did however, have 7 years of regular RE (now NM) under my belt. The first 18.5 miles went well. By mile 25 the soles of my feet had become uncomfortably familiar with every thread on the inside of those shoes. The metatarsals of my right foot were not happy either. I struggled on for another 3 miles, then stepped onto the nearby road and stuck my thumb out. It took about 10 minutes until a kind soul picked me up. I got a 5 mile respite! This gave me the fortitude to finish the final 4+ miles. Both of my feet gave me some mild to moderate trouble for a couple of weeks; fortunately, nothing permanent.

  21. Happy birthday!! I love that you did this, and that you did it from your door. My husband and I are turning 40 later this year and we spent a little time this morning looking at routes from our door. I’m not sure I could do that much in one day, but my husband is pretty interested. Thanks for writing about your adventure!

  22. I appreciated this entry a lot. Love these types of goals and love your down-to-earth and fun approach about the experience. Thanks for sharing.

  23. I appreciated every word of this entry. These are my favorite kinds of goals and you wrote up this experience with so much down-to-earth goodies + FUN + realness. Thanks for sharing and happy belated birthday!

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