Global Corporate Challenge

Of walking (or not) and dodgy pedometers

Once upon a time I walked 100km. In just under 36 hours. I did this as part of the Oxfam Trailwalker fundraising event back in 2010. The challenge was to walk 100km as a team of four in less than 48 hours. It was an amazing experience — and very very tough. (If you’re interested, our Trailwalker team blog is here.)

The reason I bring this up now is because all I can think about is how much I wish I was wearing a pedometer back then. Not only during the event, but during all the months leading up to it. I hate to think how many kilometres I walked from October 2009 and April 2010 as we trained and trained and trained.

I mentioned a couple of months ago that I’m participating in the Global Corporate Challenge — a 16-week event aimed at getting desk-bound workers moving. I’ve been wearing a pedometer for nine weeks now, trying to average 10,000 steps a day. I was managing it for a few weeks, but recently I’ve been struggling (partly, I recently discovered, due to a dodgy pedometer) and my average has slipped.

This is really difficult for me to handle! Just as I set out to walk 100km within 48 hours two years ago and succeeded, I embarked upon this Global Corporate Challenge with every intention of blitzing it. Surely it couldn’t be that hard to average 10,000 steps a day? Even when I determined it was around an hour a day’s dedicated walking, I thought it would be achievable.

Moreover, this weekend, there’s an added challenge to coincide with the start of the Olympic Games… Over four days (starting yesterday) we’re supposed to target a marathon distance. That’s 42km — approximately 65,000 steps — in four days. Or 16,500 steps a day. Show me such a challenge and all I want to do is achieve it.

After all, it’s less than HALF the Trailwalker distance, and I did that in under two days…

It all comes down to time. One of the reasons I probably won’t ever do Trailwalker again is because of the time investment. For seven months the training consumed me — every weekend and most weeknights. I certainly didn’t make any progress on my WIP. But I considered it a worthwhile endeavour.

With the Global Corporate Challenge, it’s been a challenge to squeeze in the exercise required to average 10,000 steps. Despite my fully functioning elliptical trainer — which I love. But invariably, it’s eating into my evenings — which is my writing time. My time. While I believe the Global Corporate Challenge is also a worthwhile endeavour, this time I’m not willing to make the same sacrifice.

It doesn’t seem possible to succeed at everything, all at once. Alas.

So this is why, when I consider the Global Corporate Challenge and my sub-par average of 9,400 steps, I can’t help but think wistfully back to when I did put walking before writing for a brief period of time… Man, I would have nailed this weekend’s marathon challenge back then!

10K a day

Sir Walkalot – team mascot

The challenge is 10K a day — but for once it’s not words that are the target, but steps. I’m currently participating in the Global Corporate Challenge as part of a work initiative. It aims to get slothful desk workers out of their chairs and moving  towards improved health and productivity.

The challenge has been going for about a week and half now, and it’s been quite an eye-opener. I acknowledge my habits are largely sedentary, but in between sitting at a computer all day for both work and pleasure, I’ve always walked a fair bit. I considered 10,000 steps a day achievable enough, and thought to set an example for my team-mates.

Hmm. Turns out I completely overestimated my standard level of activity.

On a standard weekday at home and work without any conscious exercise, it seems I do about 2000 steps. That’s all. Throw in a half-hour walk in the morning before work, and that gets me another 4000 steps. I can squeeze out another 2000 steps at lunchtime… if I have time.

Bottom line: getting to 10,000 steps requires at least an hour’s dedicated walking (or some other form of equivalent exercise) every day.

Needless to say, I’ve been floundering. My average number of steps for the past nine days or so is about 8,500 — which is about 3,000 less than my team average. (The team — Sir Walkalot — I was going to lead to glory… we’re sitting in the middle of the pack.) I’m determined to get my average over 10,000 for the 16-week duration of this challenge — by which time regular exercise should be a habit, apparently.

I guess it’s a good thing I’ve bought myself a new crosstraining machine. I’d been pondering the merits of a treadmill for a while, but I don’t really have the space for one. My new elliptical crosstrainer is more compact, plus more portable, should I need to wheel it out of the way.

To my irritation, it arrived in time for the challenge to commence, but with a few parts missing so I’ve had to wait over a week to be able to use it. All week (as I gazed forlornly at my dismal scores plastered all over the whiteboard in my office) I’ve been telling myself next week will be better… next week, when my crosstrainer is in action… no excuse now!

Finally, the parts have arrived and it’s all put together. I lasted about 10 minutes, before my quads gave out. Those things are tough! I’ve never really used one before, so I daresay it will take a little while to build up. Meanwhile, I’d better keep scheduling in those extra walks!

Many readers of this post could be wondering by now how many steps you do in a day — I challenge you to wear a pedometer and find out. You might be surprised. How much do you think regular exercise impacts productivity?