Yesterday I went on the longest walk of my life, around Berlin. I’m no stranger to walking- my parents love walking and growing up, walking quite a lot- for leisure and getting around in general, was normal.
But I haven’t been on a walk this long before.
It ended up at being around 42km (about 26 miles) so roughly the same distance as a marathon race.
I decided to do it now because:
- I enjoy a challenge
- It was a good excuse to see some new parts of Berlin
- Berlin is pretty flat and some of the roads are very big so you can travel decent distances quickly
- I am generally trying to get fitter so it’s a good time to try this
I wanted to share with you some of the key lessons my trip made me think about:
- Preparation matters- the week before I had walked around 20km, nearly a half-marathon. That gave me confidence I could do a full marathon of walking and it opened up a new part of the city to me that was then familiar to me on the longer walk. Also, my feet took a bit of a battering (unfortunately I was wearing leather shoes not the hiking boots as pictured, for both my long walks) but at least it toughened them up for this one.
- Even the best laid plans can go wrong- I had picked a day for my long walk way in advance- and prepped by doing things like making sure I got extra sleep in the run up (I got up before 4am on the day itself). However, the day before the weather forecast seemed worse than I had feared and it was raining even as I was leaving.
- Don’t give up too quickly- A few hours in it started to rain much more heavily. I considered giving up, but instead I just sheltered for a bit and the weather got better. The same thing happened later to an even greater extent- there was torrential rain, thunder and lightning which gave way to beautiful sunshine- but both times I sat out the worst of it and the problem passed.
- Physical health matters- I’m sure I hardly need to explain this one to you but taking care of yourself is a sure-fire way to be able to grow your influence and be more effective in everything you do. As much as the walk made me aware of my own physical limitations (because I ended up so tired!) it also reminded me that I am so lucky to be healthy and well.
- When it comes down to it, only a few things are important- Normally my head is buzzing with thousands of ideas and it can be hard to focus on one thing (I am working on this). By the end of the walk I was so tired and my feet ached so much that all I wanted was to see my wife, to have some food and have a drink.
- You can’t predict everything, but you can make things easier for yourself- I only had a small bag with me, but when it rained I was grateful it contained an umbrella. When it was sunny, I was grateful I had sun cream. When I was tired, I was grateful I had chocolate.
- It is good to set yourself challenging goals- It is one thing to achieve something when you are sure that you can do it. It is entirely another to achieve something that you are not sure that you can. While I was confident that physically I could walk that distance in terms of fitness- and would be confident I could walk a lot more if I had to- I was not always confident that my feet would stand up to it or that I would be able to get the walk completed with rain breaks in the middle.
- It is good to be proud of yourself- I have written before about how we need to remember to be proud of ourselves as our influence grows over time. I was proud of myself at the end of the walk. I didn’t know if I had walked as far as I wanted, (I had, roughly, as a marathon distance was my goal)- but I knew I had put lots of effort in and walked further than I ever had before. Of course, while being proud of the distance I walked, it is nothing compared to people running marathons etc. Even so, with my own goals, I did well.
- The most important step is the first one– It is a cliché but that doesn’t make it less true. The first step I took on my journey was the one that mattered. I decided to get up early and to step out into the rain, I could have easily have turned the alarm off and gone back to sleep. I knew that every km I traveled (despite being British I have been thinking in km in Germany!) would bring me closer to my goal.
- Everyone is on different paths- As I moved around the city, I walked past all sorts of people. Some people working, some relaxing, some tourists, some locals. Some of them might be experiencing an average day. For others it might be a special day. Some were happy, some sad. Some moving confidently towards their goal, some directionless. I was lucky to have a clear goal that day. We all need to find our own path and to travel down it the best we can.
I would love to learn if anyone has had any similar adventures that have helped them bring more clarity to things they were thinking about….