Tag Archives: Walking

Why I’ve Decided to Start Walking to Mordor

When I was a preteen, one of my uncles gave me copies of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. I read and enjoyed The Hobbit immediately.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy took longer to get into. The vocabulary in it kept making me pause to look up words I’d never heard of before, and the pacing was slower than I was used to in the other stories I discovered at that age.

Still, reading about the roughly 3109 kilometres (1932 miles) that Frodo and Sam walked during the course of this adventure did grab my attention. I was the sort of kid who liked the outdoors in small doses before I ventured inside again to cool off and have a snack.

The thought of walking – and occasionally running –  as far as they did while being hunted down by all sorts of malevolent creatures and skipping second breakfast made me shudder.

As an adult, I wonder what it would be like to walk that distance for the sheer fun of it. There have been various points in the past when I’ve run across accounts of people who made spreadsheets that tally how far the characters walked to get to each each milestone in the plot  and when they as a fan can pretend like they’ve reached the next one based on how far they’ve walked in real life.

It was only recently that I discovered a site that keeps track of this information for you. Walk to Mordor offers free cellphone apps and also has a space on their website for people who prefer to log their miles that way instead.

The best part about this game is that it gives you notifications about what is happening in the story as the distance you’ve travelled reach specific plot points. It starts in Bag End, Frodo’s home and the opening scene for this tale, and it goes all the way through what happened in the Grey Wood after the battles had all ended. I like the thought of that.

The man who created it developed it out of his love of these books, and I’m talking about it today simply because I think it’s an incredibly cool idea that I thought some of my bookish followers who also enjoy exercising might want to check out.

As always, this blog does not feature sponsored content and I am not being compensated for this post in any way.

Why Mordor, Though?

Because it’s a challenge.

Over the past five years, I’ve been keeping track of some of my fitness-related statistics. I’ve walked an average of 9.7 kilometres (6 miles) a day since I first began recording this stuff. This includes days when I didn’t move much due to illness or injury, so that number is higher when I’m feeling well.

Weight training is my other main source of exercise. I still find it challenging, and there’s nothing I’d change about my lifting routine at the moment.

As much as I enjoy walking, it doesn’t give me that same sense of accomplishment that moving up to a heavier set of weights or noticing how my body changes when I lift weights and eat a good diet.

By no means am I bored with walking…but I do like the idea of seeing all of the distance I put in on the average day add up to something tangible.

There’s also the fact that Walking to Mordor has a definite end date. If I continue at my current pace, it will wrap up at the end of winter or beginning of spring in 2020. I like the idea of starting something new while knowing that it won’t and can’t last forever.

(Relatively) Calm Entertainment

Photo Credit: Dawn Endico

This style of storytelling appealed to me, too. I’ve been looking for a fitness app that was somehow tied to science fiction, fantasy, or speculative fiction for a while now, but I was selective about what sort of adventure I was going to be signing up for.

First of all, It needed to be something that wasn’t going to track my location in the real world or sell my personal information to other companies. There is far enough of that happening in the world as is!

I also wasn’t interested in an app that tried to get me to move faster or for longer distances because of a storyline that involved anyone being chased by zombies or other dangerous creatures.

While I can see how that would be very motivating for some players, it’s not the sort of thing that I personally find appealing. Tell me a good story, but do let me move at my own pace while everything is unfolding.

Knowing how it ends for Frodo and his many companions was yet another reason why I decided to sign up for this game. I was definitely not feeling calm the first time I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but there is something to be said for returning to a world you’ve visited many times before even if it’s plot isn’t exactly what most people think of as a soothing one at first glance.

I was willing to pay for what I was looking for, by the way. The fact that I found a free app that fit my criteria was icing on the cake.

Join Me

If anyone reading this wishes to friend me on Walk to Mordor, do a search for Lydia Schoch. I kept my username there simple on purpose, and I’m happy to share my journey there if we’ve talked before and you’d like to link up.

Either way, I may be blogging about this game and others like it again in the future as I move through the various scenes. The thought of turning exercise into a non-competitive game appeals to me very much!

3 Things I Love About Spring Hikes

Signs of spring are popping up everywhere now here in Ontario. If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed the photos I’ve been sharing there of our first flowers of the year.

It’s still a little too muddy and chilly outside to spend much time traipsing around out in nature,  but I’m hoping the weather will become nice enough to change that soon.

In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about the joy of going on hikes or walks during this season. There are many reasons why this is the perfect time of year to do that. Today I’ll be sharing three of them with you just like I talked about my love of autumn hiking last year.

The Peace and Quiet

Toronto almost feels like an entirely different city in each of its four seasons. Things grow quieter here in the winter, especially once all of the December holidays have ended.

Summer is our busy, tourist season. There are certain parts of the city I don’t visit much at all during those months because of how crowded they are when kids are out of school and families visit Toronto. Tourists are always welcome here, but I’d rather visit familiar landmarks in the off-season than wait in long lines outdoors to see them in the never-ending heat and humidity of August.

Spring and autumn are transitional times. We don’t have as many tourists or warm weather at these parts of the year, but the weather can give us many unexpectedly beautiful days. It’s been my experience that there aren’t as many Torontonians venturing to a park or the woods in the in-between seasons for reasons I haven’t quite figured out yet.

At any rate, I like these quiet, peaceful days out in nature. Sometimes they start out cold and foggy but later turn out to have several hours of mild, comfortable weather in the afternoon. It’s always a gamble at this time of the year, but I like grabbing those few hours of decent weather when possible and using them to visit parks that haven’t yet begun to see their full stream of warm-weather visitors.

I’d also much rather go wander around outside on a day that is slightly chilly and overcast than one that may leave me sunburned or overheated by the end of it. To each their own on that topic, though.

The Outdoor Exercise

After spending the last several months exercising indoors due to a mixture of weather and health-related reasons, I can’t tell you what a relief it’s been to start doing some workouts outside.

There’s something so invigorating to me about feeling the sun and wind on my skin as I exercise. Watching all of the TV shows or exercise videos in the world can never replicate that sensation anymore than they can show what it feels like to greet a friendly neighbour you happen to run into while exercising outdoors.

Life isn’t always conducive to this, of course, especially when I had a sore foot a few months ago and needed to avoid slipping or falling while it healed.  With that being said, it’s a nice experience when possible, and I’m hoping to do it much more regularly now that I’m feeling like my old self and the sidewalks aren’t dangerously slippery for anyone who needs to be careful to avoid a fall.

The Scenery

As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, spring is my favourite season of the year. Winter is cold, snowy, drab, and long here, so it’s always a relief when the temperatures rise and I begin seeing bright splashes of colour on the landscape again after the flowers begin blooming.

I’ve already paused more than one walk with my spouse in order to snap a picture of a flower or new leaf on a tree. Every bit of colour that’s added to the landscape makes me that much happier.

It’s going to be even nicer once I’m able to visit a forest that isn’t dormant at all any more! I can’t wait to see flowers, leaves, and grasses growing no matter what direction I look.

If you’re also a fan of hiking or taking long walks, what do you like most about it at this time of the year?

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Favourite Hobby and Why

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

 I talk about my love of reading and writing all of the time this blog, so I’m going to branch out and talk about some of the other stuff in this world that makes me happy. Oh, and I’m bending the rules and talking about two different topics because it was impossible to pick between them.

Board, Video, and Role-Playing Games

If we were all sitting together in a room and didn’t have Internet access, I’d probably ask everyone if they wanted to play Clue, Scrabble, or Life. There’s something so relaxing to me about the simplicity and predictability of them. I see playing board games as a chance to bond with friends, so I’d much rather spend my time chatting between turns than trying to remember a complex set of rules.

When I was a kid, my favourite video game was Pharaoh. It was a city-building game set in various points of Egyptian history. I loved deciding where my characters should build a pyramid and planning out the designs of my cities.

These days, I spend my video game time building homes, digging mines, and fighting monsters in Minecraft. As long as no monsters sneak up on me while I’m working, it’s a very relaxing way to end a day.

A few months ago, I started playing Dungeons and Dragons occasionally, but I don’t know enough about that topic yet to go into much detail about it. It’s far more complicated than I ever would have imagined!

Why do I love games so much? Well, most of the ones I play ask you to use your imagination. There are very few things in this world that I find more interesting than needing to do that.

Fitness

I’m a weightlifter. It’s a form of exercise I first tried about four years ago, and it’s made me feel so good to grow stronger as a result of this hobby. I’m a short and petite woman, so every bit of strength I gain makes a huge difference in how I look, how I feel, and what I’m capable of doing.

Walking outdoors – preferably as close to nature as I can get to as a city person – is another fitness activity that I really enjoy. I originally tried to get into running, but I found that long, brisk walks were much more my speed. I like being able to take in my surroundings and notice that squirrel darting up a tree or a neighbour’s dog playing fetch in the distance.

Talking about this is making me very glad that spring is around the corner. I can’t wait to go to the park again.

Why do I love working out so much? Well, it makes me feel really good. I get an endorphin rush from cardiovascular exercise, and I really like the way weightlifting improves my life. There’s something thrilling about picking up a heavy laundry basket or bag of groceries and realizing that they feel a little lighter than they did the last time you needed to do that chore. It’s almost like gaining a superpower!

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question. This is the list of upcoming prompts for this blog hop.

4 Reasons Why You Should Try Walking Meditation

As anyone who has followed this blog for a while probably already knows, I’m always on the lookout for new meditation techniques. Recently, I discovered something called Walking Meditation that was so interesting I felt compelled to tell my readers about it.

 What Is Walking Meditation?

There are several different types of walking meditation out there: Theraveda, Zen (also known as Kinhin), Thich Nhat Hahn, Yoga, Daoist, and Mindfulness Walking Meditation. I’m going to focus on the last one  in today’s post because I found it the most helpful, but do feel free to click the link above if you want to explore other options.

Mindfulness Walking Meditation is quite similar to the types of meditation you’d do while sitting or lying down. You begin by doing something simple: taking a walk. Where that happens is entirely up to do. I didn’t always have a name for it, but it turns out I’ve been practicing Mindfulness Walking Meditation in many of the places I talk walks at: the mall, local parks, sidewalks, and even in front of washers and dryers on laundry day.

When you are walking, focus on nothing other than the sensations your body is feeling as you walk. Remain engaged with all of the things you can see, hear, feel, and touch as you walk. Do your best to call your attention back to the present moment every time your mind begins to wander.

Now that we’ve clarified what we’re talking about and how it’s done, let’s move onto the four reasons why I think you should give Mindfulness Walking Meditation a try as well.

Reason #1: You Can Do It Anywhere

You can walk and remain in the present moment in a noisy place or a quiet one. It can happen in a busy waiting room, a park, a corridor, or any other place where you can find a small area to pace or walk around in. You might be surrounded by thousands of other people or no one else at all.

Unlike some of the other forms of meditation, you don’t need to close your eyes or find a place to sit to do this one. I find that incredibly appealing.

Reason #2: It Gives Restless Meditators Something to Focus On

While I’ve grown more used to sedentary forms of meditation over the years, there is still a part of me that finds it challenging to stay seated for this practice.

The beautiful thing about walking meditation in general, including Mindfulness Walking Meditation specifically, is that it provides you with something to focus on that won’t distract from your goal. It’s so much easier for me to remain in the present moment if my legs are moving!

Reason #3: In Months That Don’t End in “uary,” It’s a Great Excuse to Spend Time in Nature

Yes, I’m being a little tongue-in-cheek here. Of course you could go on a long, meditative walk in January or February if you wanted to. Just because I stay indoors as much as possible during the coldest part of the winter doesn’t mean everyone must do that

There is something meditative about spending time out in nature even if you’re in a month that ends in -uary. One of the things that surprised me the most about Toronto when I first moved here was how many trees this city had, so I spend more time in nature than I thought I would when I became a city person.

There are small parkettes sprinkled throughout the general Toronto area, and we have quite a few large, well-maintained forests to explore as well. Walking through them is one of my favourite things to do in the entire world.

Reason #4: It Helps You Stay Connected to Your Body

Have you ever tried walking any distance when you have a pebble in your shoe? What is mildly annoying at first can quickly become  something that needs to be fixed as soon as possible.

One of the unexpected benefits of Mindfulness Walking Meditation that I’ve noticed has been how it encourages me to pay attention to what is going on with my body. For example, I recently figured out that I have a higher chance of developing a headache on days that I don’t practice good posture. This wasn’t something I was aware of before, but I’m now trying to correct it thanks to this practice. How cool is that?

If you’ve tried any form of walking meditation or are planning to in the near future, I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on this topic.

3 Things I Love About Autumn Hikes

This autumn has been an odd one so far here in Ontario as climate change continues to disrupt our normal weather patterns.

Early September is often still hot here, but the heat continued on through October this year. I was actually still wearing shorts and other summer gear as recently as a week ago!

Now the weather is jumping back and forth between unseasonably warm and cold temperatures from one day to the next.

One of the most noticeable side effects of this strange weather has been a delay in when the leaves began to change colour and fall off for the year. There are still quite a few trees with green leaves in southern Ontario even though we’re already more than halfway through October.

I’m hoping this will mean that we’ll have a delayed beginning of winter as well. There hasn’t been enough time to spend exercising while out in nature as I like to have when the weather is mild.

Hidden Details Being Revealed

Some of the trees in my neighbourhood have begun to change colour. Once the weather cools down enough for other species to join them, the landscape changes quickly as other trees follow in their footsteps. At some point, all of the non-evergreen

As much as I’ll miss the sight of green plants this winter, it’s always interesting to spot the now-abandoned nests that birds created when no one could see what they were doing up in those branches or to see how sparse a forest can look when all of the plants go dormant for the winter.

If I still wrote poetry, I’d write a poem about all of the things we might not have noticed when the year was still young. There’s so much room for inspiration when you visit a place you’ve been to many times before and notice something there that you hadn’t picked up on before.

Friendly Weather

I was originally going to call this section mild weather, but it honestly feels downright friendly to me after the long, hot summer we had. It’s so nice to go outside again without feeling like you’ve stuck your head in an oven.

Not only are the chances of suffering frostbite or a sunburn are lower than usual at this time of the year, October is a pretty pleasant month if you like spending a lot of time outdoors. Any shivering or perspiring is generally kept to a minimum, especially if you dress in layers and remove or add them as needed.

Despite my interest in fitness and nature, I’m not the sort of person who enjoys spending a lot of time outside when it is very hot or cold outside. This is something that confuses certain folks when they first get to know me, but there’s a massive quality of life difference between spending hours in the woods when it’s 15 degrees Celcius (60 Fahrenheit) versus -15 C (5 F) or 45 C (113 F).

To me, nature is something best explored during moderate seasons like spring and fall. Yes, they can both be unpredictable at times as far how quickly their temperatures can shift, but they’re generally the best times of the year to spend hours outside without suffering too many negative health consequences for that decision.

Mentally Stimulating Exercise

There’s a huge difference between exercising to a pre-recorded video indoors on a cold winter day and getting to explore the world around you when the weather is more agreeable.

I’ll get my workouts in either way, but I have to say that I find a lot more pleasure in exercising at the park where I’m surrounded by the sights, smells, and sounds of autumn.

Something as simple as hearing the crunch of leaves as I pass through them or seeing a neighbour’s dog stubbornly chase squirrels adds a little bit of joy to my normal routine. (Don’t worry – I’ve never seen a single dog catch a squirrel at my local park. The wildlife here is too smart and fast for pampered city pets to keep up with).

It doesn’t have to be anything exciting in order to catch my attention. Even subtle changes are enough to keep me interested in my surroundings as I exercise.

How does the changing of the seasons affect your workout routine? Will you be hiking or walking anywhere interesting over the next few months?

My First Outdoor Walk This Spring

My first outdoor walk this spring happened this past weekend. Since it isn’t possible to magically transport one’s readers to Toronto to experience this for themselves for half an hour, I’ll tell you exactly what it was like. The wind had a slight cold snap to it, and I shuddered a little bit every time… Read More

6 Ways to Stay Active While Travelling

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers! If any of my readers will be travelling anywhere soon, I hope you have a safe journey. One of the tricky parts of travelling is figuring out how to adapt your daily routine to all of the new experiences that come with visiting another place. Between spending… Read More