I have taken up walking – for exercise, I mean, not just for moving from one place to another. This is not normally noteworthy, I understand, but what you don’t know about me is that I absolutely hate walking. My feet always hurt, I get bored, and occasionally I even sweat. And I hate sweating more than I hate walking. It’s just so, um, gross. Nonetheless, I have determined that walking on a regular basis would give me more endurance, and heaven knows I could use a dose or two of endurance.

I’ve tried walking regularly in the past, but to be honest I’ve been unable to find anything that would distract me from the pain – and yes, I’m talking about real, physical pain. It appears that my feet don’t enjoy the process any more than I do. My hope is that eventually they’ll just get used to it and stop their whining.

Thus, my first challenge was to find something that could shout louder than my feet. I figured out that podcasts required concentration and would give me something to focus on, kind of like Lamaze breathing during labor. My first day out I turned on my podcast, walked 15 minutes in one direction and then turned back towards home. I took my phone along in case I needed to call 911 somewhere along the way. Later that night, I was trying to figure out how far I’d walked, so I asked my husband for his guess based on the route I’d taken. When he said about a mile and a half I was shocked! So shocked that I actually got up out of bed at 11:00 p.m., put my coat on over my pajamas, and drove the route to see if he was right. Turns out, it was only 1.2 miles, but hey, this was just my first day!

True to their natural bent, my feet have indeed been complaining – some days more than others. Determined to have the upper hand in this battle of the wills with my feet, I walk anyway. After one particularly painful day a friend told me that she’d seen me walking. I asked her, “Did I look like I was about to cry?” (Because I was.) She told me that she couldn’t tell because I was looking down at the ground. Note to self: When you stare at the ground, it puts your whole body alignment out of whack – look up! I’m not sure when I started the practice of walking with my head down, but I’m going to guess it was during the 1980s when there were Lego pieces scattered all around our house. Those babies HURT when you step on them!

After my crying day I decided to take a day off and find other footwear, which I did. I actually found a pair of shoes that are pretty much an answer to prayer. But even perfectly fitting shoes have a break-in period, and apparently I forgot to pay attention to that fact. Before too long my feet were back to shouting in protest, but I didn’t want to quit. So I took a few Advil and persisted in my walking regimen. Apparently another friend spotted me out walking that day (you gotta love a small town) and told me, “Nancy, you know I love you, but when I saw you walking you had the worst look on your face.”

“You mean, like I was in intense pain?” I asked.

“Exactly like that.”

Who knew so many people would be watching me while I walk? And who knew that they’d expect me to look happy? That seems like a lot to expect if you ask me. Clearly walking isn’t for wimps.

I will persist. I’m convinced that once my feet understand my determination they will stop protesting so loudly. In the meantime, I recommend you buy stock in Advil. I hear it’s flying off the shelf.