Author Topic: In Praise of Shorter Walks.  (Read 1799 times)

ninthace

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In Praise of Shorter Walks.
« on: 14:37:06, 07/10/20 »
On Jan 1 this year I had a severe knee problem which curtailed my walking severely and necessitated a lot of short walks to build the knee up again.  Not long after it had recovered to a reasonable standard, we entered the Covid lockdown which again limited how far afield we could go.  As a result, we have rather got into the habit of doing walks of between 2 and 3 hours in length.  Having done over 150 such walks this year, today as we strode along, we fell to talking about the advantages such a pattern of walking has.  We came up with the following.
   
Shorter walks are easier to fit into weather windows, so you tend to get out more often.  They are also easier to fit into a schedule of other activities so again, you tend to get out more often.
   
There is a law of diminishing returns for the health benefits associated with walking.  Most benefit is gained in the first hour or so.  So more frequent, shorter walks mean more benefit.  Also, because you know the walk is of a relatively short duration, you tend to push yourself harder, again increasing the benefit.
   
In our part of the world, as in many others, a spell of bad weather means many routes become waterlogged and/or muddy, which means we are often restricted to lanes and byways while the paths dry out a bit.  A couple of hours exploring a network of back lanes is not an unpleasant experience whereas a longer walk on tarmac would be less so, and longer routes make it harder to avoid busy roads.  This means we still go out rather than stay in waiting for conditions to improve.
   
Shorter walks can be used as reconnaissance for longer walks and to complete sections of long-distance paths without the planning and logistics overhead.
   
A big plus for me, shorter walks can often be completed without a pack.  There is no real need to carry food or water, you can often be confident of the weather for a 2 to 3 our period so you do not need additional clothing.  If you get it wrong and it rains and you do not have the right waterproofs, you should not have far or long to go.  (I accept fell/mountain walking has different rules).
   
Finally, in many areas, a decent circular short walk is easier to find than a decent long walk as the enclosed area is much less.  In our case, it has led us into exploring many areas we would not have considered before and finding lots of hidden gems as a result.
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richardh1905

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Re: In Praise of Shorter Walks.
« Reply #1 on: 15:25:54, 07/10/20 »
Both short and long walks have their merit - goodness knows I do enough in the 2-5 mile range when I walk the dog!


..but having said that, it is the longer ones that give me the most satisfaction, and they are more likely to stick in my memory.
« Last Edit: 17:37:07, 07/10/20 by richardh1905 »
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BuzyG

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Re: In Praise of Shorter Walks.
« Reply #2 on: 16:47:47, 07/10/20 »
There is a lot to be said for short walks.  As one who still works they are often all that can be accomplished after a day and the coal face/office.  There is also the issue of wear and tear on your joints.  When still training for the Dartmoor 50 there was no way I could train 50miles every weekend. That would just have been a total chore and worn my not so young body to a point a failure very quickly.

So as Richard suggest a varied pattern is good.

One important thing you mention, that I did work out this year, is that doing lots of miles is less effective from a general fitness point of view, than doing far less miles more effectively. ie walk or jog 2/3 miles as hard you can on steep ground, rather than bimble 10 miles along a canal bank.  The later though is a more pleasant way to spend a Sunday with your other half. So there has to be a balance.  Little and often is great for keeping in shape.  But it's those longer little adventures that I think most folk enjoy and reminisce about when time and health allow and indeed what they/we try to stay in shape for.
« Last Edit: 16:55:34, 07/10/20 by BuzyG »

shortwalker

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Re: In Praise of Shorter Walks.
« Reply #3 on: 17:18:49, 07/10/20 »
On Jan 1 this year I had a severe knee problem which curtailed my walking severely and necessitated a lot of short walks to build the knee up again.  Not long after it had recovered to a reasonable standard, we entered the Covid lockdown which again limited how far afield we could go.  As a result, we have rather got into the habit of doing walks of between 2 and 3 hours in length.  Having done over 150 such walks this year, today as we strode along, we fell to talking about the advantages such a pattern of walking has.  We came up with the following.
   
Shorter walks are easier to fit into weather windows, so you tend to get out more often.  They are also easier to fit into a schedule of other activities so again, you tend to get out more often.
   
There is a law of diminishing returns for the health benefits associated with walking.  Most benefit is gained in the first hour or so.  So more frequent, shorter walks mean more benefit.  Also, because you know the walk is of a relatively short duration, you tend to push yourself harder, again increasing the benefit.
   
In our part of the world, as in many others, a spell of bad weather means many routes become waterlogged and/or muddy, which means we are often restricted to lanes and byways while the paths dry out a bit.  A couple of hours exploring a network of back lanes is not an unpleasant experience whereas a longer walk on tarmac would be less so, and longer routes make it harder to avoid busy roads.  This means we still go out rather than stay in waiting for conditions to improve.
   
Shorter walks can be used as reconnaissance for longer walks and to complete sections of long-distance paths without the planning and logistics overhead.
   
A big plus for me, shorter walks can often be completed without a pack.  There is no real need to carry food or water, you can often be confident of the weather for a 2 to 3 our period so you do not need additional clothing.  If you get it wrong and it rains and you do not have the right waterproofs, you should not have far or long to go.  (I accept fell/mountain walking has different rules).
   
Finally, in many areas, a decent circular short walk is easier to find than a decent long walk as the enclosed area is much less.  In our case, it has led us into exploring many areas we would not have considered before and finding lots of hidden gems as a result.


Welcome to my world. currently all I am doing is short walks. In fact just back from a 4.8 mile walk around footpaths near me. 

Birdman

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Re: In Praise of Shorter Walks.
« Reply #4 on: 17:20:48, 07/10/20 »
Regarding health benefits, walking short distances on a very regular basis is much better than long distances that you do only occasionally. And really long walks are not good for your health at all, as your body doesn't have enough time to recover.


However, the really long (multi-day/week/months) walks is where my heart is. They enable you to visit the really wild places that cannot be done on daywalks and also because for myself the walking is only part of the enjoyment. I really enjoy camping at remote places too.


Anyway, at some point in time the body will put constraints on what you can do and fortunately there is much enjoyment in shorter walks too. Currently the very long walk options are also limited because of Covid-19.
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WhitstableDave

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Re: In Praise of Shorter Walks.
« Reply #5 on: 17:28:05, 07/10/20 »
I think I’d better begin my reply with a disclaimer… Insofar as everything you’ve written applies to you (ninthace!), there’s absolutely no reason why I should think it applies to me or to anyone else. So what follows is purely my reaction to the advantages you see in shorter walks. Oh, and I note that you define your ‘shorter walks’ by duration, not distance. I typically walk between 8 and 13 miles during your times, and I would call those distances short-to-medium.

So, to each of your points in turn:

I enjoy walking whatever the conditions and I’ve never cut a walk short or not gone out at all because of the weather. I especially enjoy walking in the rain for several reasons: I get to wear some gear I rarely use (such as my waterproof trousers), there’s usually hardly anyone around, and I like splashing through puddles. In fact, during the lockdown period, the only outdoor walks I did were when it rained – just twice, as I recall!

I walk for both health and fitness benefits and the fitness benefit I find most beneficial is endurance. If I limited all my walks to a couple of hours, then I doubt very much that I’d find an occasional 50km particularly straightforward. In my experience, fitness trainers say that the real gains are made when you go beyond your comfort zone. I don’t tend to push myself any harder on shorter walks than on long ones. If anything, my shorter walks are more likely to be done with family members while I often do solo long walks against the clock.

A walk of pretty much any length can serve as reconnaissance. I find that the longer the walk and the further from home I am, the more likely I am to spot promising paths to explore another day.

My backpack and its contents aren’t really an issue for me. I always carry drink and snacks, appropriate clothing (I hope!), and all those little extras such as compass, first aid kit… and now sanitiser and facemask as well. In fact, if I do a short walk of any kind without a backpack, it feels strange.

I really can’t relate to the final point. I believe I’ve walked almost every footpath, bridleway, byway and road within a 10 mile radius of where I live, so there’s nowhere local left to discover. While in my (slightly postponed) quest to completely cover Kent, I drive ever further to explore new areas and so I usually plan walks of between about 15 and 20 miles to make the drive worthwhile.

ninthace

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Re: In Praise of Shorter Walks.
« Reply #6 on: 17:39:57, 07/10/20 »
Your response does not surprise me Whistabledave but I did not have you remotely in mnd.  As I said it was a discussion between me and Mrs N and she has no interest in this forum whatsoever.  FYI I defined short walks by time rather than distance quite deliberately as each person walks at their own pace.

 To you and other respondents, I did not mean to imply short walks were in some way superior to longer distances, rather that their value was perhaps not fully appreciated by the walking community.
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shortwalker

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Re: In Praise of Shorter Walks.
« Reply #7 on: 17:50:41, 07/10/20 »
The responses to this, sound a little bit like the ego thread.  ;D


"oh I have walked x and Y trail"


"You have only walked, how many miles? etc etc.


I walk short distances because that is all my knee will allow me to do, are my achievements any less than those who walk long distances?

WhitstableDave

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Re: In Praise of Shorter Walks.
« Reply #8 on: 17:55:43, 07/10/20 »
Your response does not surprise me Whistabledave but I did not have you remotely in mnd.  As I said it was a discussion between me and Mrs N and she has no interest in this forum whatsoever.  FYI I defined short walks by time rather than distance quite deliberately as each person walks at their own pace.

 To you and other respondents, I did not mean to imply short walks were in some way superior to longer distances, rather that their value was perhaps not fully appreciated by the walking community.

I hope we're not talking at cross-purposes ninthace. I simply meant to say that what applies to you, applies to you, and what applies to me, applies to me. If ever there was an example of each-to-their-own, this is it. After several hours looking after my toddler granddaughter today, I was pleased to relax and share my perspective. Nothing more!  :)

GinAndPlatonic

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Re: In Praise of Shorter Walks.
« Reply #9 on: 18:04:27, 07/10/20 »
Both short and long walks have their merit - goodness knows I do enough in the 2-5 mile range when I walk the dog!


..but having said that, it is the longer ones that give me the most satisfaction, and they are more likely to stick in my memory.
I agree. I really enjoy short walks , and I can fit them in between more important things happening that day  . I look upon them as necessary for keeping fit , but it is the feeling of achievement I get from the really long walks that I totally enjoy , and look upon them as milestones in each year .
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Dodgylegs

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Re: In Praise of Shorter Walks.
« Reply #10 on: 18:13:48, 07/10/20 »
I'm also back to short walks due to injury, building up from basically yards.


What I really enjoy, obviously a personal opinion, is walking places I have never been to or haven't visited for some time.


Saying that I'm just back from once again walking along the beautiful sandy beaches of South Shields, a lovely place to be!

barewirewalker

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Re: In Praise of Shorter Walks.
« Reply #11 on: 11:31:48, 08/10/20 »
Unfortunately Local Government, who have the responsibility for administering our footpaths and means by which we choose our routes, like to have set pieces to fashion their policies to.
The idea of a short circular walk in their view, I believe, puts Shortwalker's 4.8 miles in the category above. Also the average requirement is from a car park, making the routes that could be done from Public Transport for those without cars fall short of serious scrutiny. I spent quite a lot of time a few years ago planning linear walks between different bus routes, making a route short enough to fit into the official set piece, would of often necessitate field margins, not within the bounds of RoW, yet in areas that had not seen a livestock hoof in 20 years and yet it is possible to walk through a deteriorating hedge onto a safe lay bye to safely stop a bus.
I have had a lot of fun finding such routes, it often ridicules the notion of private land by exposing the pretentious nonsense of the rights of way network not being able to develop with modern needs.



Just an after thought;
Not in the five years I was on a LAF (Great Outdoors Liaison Do-Dah now) did I once hear mention of running as an outdoor activity, unless I mentioned it, the space needed of a short cross country run is greater that that of a short walk, so safe areas with safe road crossings become fewer. some of the courses I ran in the 1950-60's no longer exist, the safe courses have to be run twice if not 3x.
« Last Edit: 11:38:47, 08/10/20 by barewirewalker »
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BuzyG

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Re: In Praise of Shorter Walks.
« Reply #12 on: 13:30:38, 08/10/20 »
Alas you lost me just after unfortunately there.  ???

shortwalker

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Re: In Praise of Shorter Walks.
« Reply #13 on: 16:45:01, 08/10/20 »
Alas you lost me just after unfortunately there.  ???


Me too. Unfortunately Barewirewalker has an agenda that he can't help but go on (and on) about.




Toxicbunny

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Re: In Praise of Shorter Walks.
« Reply #14 on: 21:16:42, 08/10/20 »
I agree there are some nice shorter walks to be had. I've been suffering with knee problems since June. Alas due to covid getting advice and exercise to build my knee back up via email from NHS. I'm off to the lakes to to low level walks or lower level tomorrow due to my knee.