20,000 Steps a Day: My 30-Day Challenge

Screenshot of 20,000 steps on the Sweatcoin app
20,000 Steps a Day: My 30-Day Challenge

Disclaimer: My 20,000 step challenge ended up lasting 31 days, the full month of July.

Since I started Tenacious Travel, I have spent crazy amounts of time sitting and staring at a computer screen. Yes, I truly enjoy working on my website, but damn, I need to get off my ass more often.

I’ve become a bit… round. My belly has been expanding and my energy levels have been sinking. I’m like a loyal husband that has put on sympathy weight for his child-bearing wife (but nobody is pregnant).

So, I decided to challenge myself to step away from the computer and start walking.

…and walking.

10,000 steps, about eight kilometers (five miles), is widely seen as the ‘magic number’ to shoot for when trying to maintain an active lifestyle. So why not double it? We want this to be a challenge, right?

If I hit my goals, I should be spending over three hours a day walking and travel about 10 miles (16 kilometers).

To count my steps, I’ll use my Mi Fit Band that my generous girlfriend gave to me. Her motives are unknown, but I suspect she wants to track my every move.

This challenge is about shaking off the rust and restoring balance to my life. It’s about getting my blood pumping and forming healthier habits. I’m going to explore the world on foot and challenge myself to do better.

So, follow along with me. It’ll be fun. I’m bound to push this challenge down to the very last hour of the very last day. That’s just how it’s going to end up. I know myself.

20,000 steps a day… here goes nothing.

The 20,000 Step Challenge Journal

The fine print: My objective is to average 20,000 steps a day for the entire month of July. Sometimes I won’t hit my daily goal, but that’s okay. I’ll just have to walk a little more the next day.

Starting weight: 80.4 kilograms (177.2 pounds) Starting Body Mass Index: 24.7 (on the verge of officially ‘overweight’)

No More Procrastinating

July 2nd, 12:20 a.m.

So, I had been planning all week to push my 20,000 step challenge back to August. My reasoning: this blog isn’t public yet and this challenge will likely get lost behind others once I finally launch this website of mine.

A close up of blue Tesla running shoes standing on a wooden porch
My ridiculously affordable (and comfortable) Tesla running shoes

Steps Taken

July 1st: 19,947
July 2nd: 21,158
July 3rd: 17,357
July 4th: 9,915
July 5th: 29,263
July 6th: 12,885
July 7th: 23,348
July 8th: 5,311
July 9th: 25,850
July 10th: 20,662
July 11th: 20,750
July 12th: 15,751
July 13th: 16,769
July 14th: 20,665
July 15th: 18,952
July 16th: 23,225
July 17th: 21,232
July 18th: 11,574
July 19th: 20,596
July 20th: 10,054
July 21st: 8,639
July 22nd: 23,506
July 23rd: 14,037
July 24th: 20,168
July 25th: 27,148
July 26th: 23,103
July 27th:
19,580
July 28th: 35,793
July 29th: 18,675
July 30th: 37,093
July 31st: 27,627
Average:
20,021


That would be a cop-out, plain and simple. Why should I care if nobody’s watching? If I make excuses for myself not to follow through on my goals, I’m setting a dangerous precedent.

So, I decided to go for it. What do I have to lose?

That being said, I got off to a bit of a slow start. 10:45 p.m. rolled around and I had still only reached 11,000 steps. Damnit, I couldn’t dig myself into a hole on my very first day. I put on my Tesla brand running shoes (yes, Tesla makes running shoes) and started moving.

My first big race against time was a mixture of jogging, wheezing, pitch black sidewalks, staggering with my hands on my hips, coughing up god knows what, and generally feeling really out of shape.

11:50 struck and I was still short of my goal. I sprinted as fast as I could but fell short by 53 steps – or 19 more seconds of running. I am sore and achy but full of hope. 20,000 steps are never going to be a walk in the park.

Digging Myself Into an Early Hole

July 5th, 1:46 a.m.

Fine, I’ll admit it: I didn’t give it my best effort yesterday.

I finished 10,000 steps short of my goal. Oops. It might have something to do with me staying out crazy late and drinking beer with an old friend the night before. Who knows? There’s no way to measure these things.

I was starting to panic when 11:00 p.m. rolled around and I had taken less than 5,000 steps. So, I did what any other exhausted, dehydrated, and hungover person would do: I got off the couch and ran across town on the 4th of July. Fireworks crackled overhead as my dog panicked and I moved slightly slower than usual.

Did I mention that walking 20,000 steps in a day is not easy?

I’ve dug myself a bit of a hole early on, but I’m excited to see how I dig myself out. There will be more days that I fall well short of goals, but there will also be 30,000 step days. They’re coming, I promise.

20,000 Steps at 14,000 Feet

July 8th, 1:03 p.m.

I got some quality steps in yesterday, and almost all of them happened before 9:00 a.m. On the night of the 6th, I drove up to Kite Lake Trailhead (outside of Alma, Colorado) parked my campervan, and slept.

I awoke at 3:30 in the morning, ate a cold piece of pizza, fed my dog, and gathered my gear. I groggily poured myself out of my van and was met with a quiet moonlight. My friends, Matt and Antonio, were waiting for me by the trailhead. We yawned and stretched together and began our hike.

A silhouette of hikers summiting Mount Lincoln in Colorado at sunrise
Summiting Mount Lincoln at sunrise

Now, these were hard-earned steps that we were taking. We huffed and puffed to the top of three different mountains over 14,000 feet in elevation: Mt. Bross, Mt. Lincoln, and Mt. Cameron. My friends completed a fourth, Mt. Democrat, but I ducked out because Bubba’s paws were starting to get tender.

The first week is in the books!

I’m slightly behind pace but have more big hikes planned later in this month. My 20,000 step challenge has already shown positive results. I feel lighter on my feet and full of energy at all times. Bubba and I are exploring the world together and enjoying every moment, 20,000 steps at a time.

Enduring the Brutal Heat of Summer

July 9th, 2:53 p.m.

The relentless Colorado sun doesn’t care if I have goals to reach (highs of 38 degrees Celsius)

I picked the wrong week to start sleeping in.

After slacking off yesterday and putting off today’s steps until 2:00 p.m., I was forced to take a run in Colorado’s triple-digit Summer heat. I still have 13,969 steps to reach my daily goal. Needless to say, today has been a bit of a learning experience.

Did I mention my house has no air conditioning?

TIP: Start Your Steps Early!

If you’re trying to hit a 20,000 steps a day goal, do yourself a favor and try to complete at least 10,000 steps before noon, especially in the summer. Procrastinating will force you to exert yourself during the hottest part of the day or rush yourself late into the night. I’ve made a bad habit of doing both.

Now, excuse me while I stand near my wide-open refrigerator.

Half Inspiration, Half Desperation

July 10th, 12:30 a.m.

I just finished power-walking, jogging, and sprinting around town for 15,000 steps in the final two hours of the day. That’s how my night went.

I feel great though.

My 20,000 steps a day motto: ‘Half Inspiration, Half Desperation’

Trimming Up: My Midway Update

July 16th, 12:00 p.m.

Ah, the halfway point. It’s been an absolute grind, to say the least. The 20,000 steps a day don’t care if you’re tired, burnt out, hungover, have shit to do, or its a 100 degrees (38° Celsius) out.

The steps are always waiting, screaming to be taken.

The last few days my legs have felt heavy and taxed, especially when I’m running. My body has hit a wall. In spite of this, I have made some very noticeable progress.

Here are some of the physical differences that I have seen:

Midway weight: 172.6 pounds Midway BMI: 24.1

I’m slimming up and it feels good. I’ve shed almost five pounds so far. My legs, although often fatigued, feel stronger and more stable. My energy levels are up and my stamina is climbing. The blisters on my feet have turned to callouses and I feel like I’m getting back towards ‘trail shape’ again.

Mentally, I feel sharper and more focused. I am able to organize my normally jumbled and erratic thoughts when I’m walking or running. Many future ideas for this website have come to me while I was racking up my 20,000 steps for the day.

A curious yellow lab sniffs a from being held in front of his nose at night
Keri introduces Bubba to a late night frog while we get our 20,000 steps in

Bubba is thoroughly satisfied and exhausted on a normal basis. This is something I never thought possible from a yellow lab. Instead of anxiously following me around the house waiting to be exercised, he is constantly recharging for our next set of 20,000 steps.

It’s safe to say that this challenge was a great idea. Here’s to the second half, where I must now average 21,437 steps a day.

Gear I Used: 20,000 Steps a Day

Footwear

Clothing

Accessories, Etc.

A Furious Finish Ahead

July 25th, 1:20 p.m.

So, I have some good news and I have some bad news.

Let’s start with the good news: my girlfriend recently got back in town from China. She’s visiting for three weeks, and we’ve been having a great time! We even went to Las Vegas and ate at our favorite restaurant in the world.

Now, for the bad: Since, Las Vegas, I’ve put my steps on the back-burner. They haven’t been a priority and my averages have dipped severely. I’ve dropped down to an average of 17,894, which doesn’t sound bad (but really is bad this late in the game).

This means my last week of steps I will have to average 26,912 steps a day, which I have only surpassed once this month. I anticipate lots of late night sprinting and early morning jogs. My sleep will suffer, but I will reach my goal. Maybe.

Complete and Utter Exhaustion

July 29th, 12:08 p.m.

My calves are shot and my legs are jelly. Pain is shooting up my IT band. My dog thinks I’m crazy. We’re exhausted.

I reached 30,000 steps for the first time this month (just as I promised I would). A few days ago I’d felt utterly pessimistic. I thought I had dug myself into a hole too deep, but yesterday’s total gives me new hope.

A yellow lab laying on his side with an exhausted look on his face
Today Bubba got excited and took twice the steps I did. Now he is tired.

I feel like a different person than when I started this 20,000 steps a day challenge, but I guess that’s the point, isn’t it? In years past I’ve gone months without ever running. Now, my days feel incomplete without it. The late nights exercising alone in the darkness are soothing and therapeutic, and I’m beginning to see how people get addicted.

Three days left. Time to finish strong.

Never. Stop. Walking.

July 30th, 2:43 p.m.

This morning I paced back and forth around the light rail station as I awaited my train. I followed that up with more aggressive marching around Union Station as I stacked up steps waiting for my bus. I looked like a madman with a million things racing through his head, furiously storming around and trying to make sense of it all.

And who’s to say that I’m not?

I have 51.5 kilometers (32 miles) left these final two days to reach my goal of 20,000 steps a day. Sometimes I’m just going to have to act like a lunatic along the way.

A man facing the camera standing on top of Mount Lincoln in Colorado
20,000 Steps a Day: Mission Accomplished

It’s Over

August 1st, 12:23 a.m.

That’s it. Thank God it’s over.

My 20,000 steps a day challenge is finished.

This last week my existence was consumed with reaching my goal. if I wasn’t working, I was walking. If I wasn’t walking, I was running. Steps, steps, steps — all day long.

The grind is over, what a relief. My legs are spent and I’m exhausted. I’m going to bed.

Bring on a new challenge.

What I’ve Learned from Taking 20,000 Steps a Day

Without question, I took more steps this month than I ever have in my life. This challenge forced me to break out of my sedentary routine and get out in the world. I now feel lighter on my feet and healthier. My mind slows down and my creativity blossoms while I’m on my feet. I didn’t lose a drastic amount of weight, but I trimmed up noticeably and changed my habits.

My future goal will be 12,000 steps a day. 20,000 steps a day is a bit much for now. I want to be active, but I don’t want my life to revolve around steps. Balance: that’s what I’m looking for.

Noel Before the Challenge

Noel After the Challenge

Roundish figure, sluggish, constantly staring at computerActive, energetic, and physically fit
Ran sparingly and inconsistently for short burstsDaily runner with best stamina in life
Bored, unfulfilled, and under-exercised dog (Bubba)Bubba constantly experiencing the best day of his life
Had a hard time focusing, jumbled and disorganized thoughtsClear mind, natural and flowing creativity, focused
Unsure about achieving goal, lingering self-doubtConfident, motivated, and goal-oriented

Stats

Total Steps Taken/Average Per Day620,637/20,021
Kilometers/Miles Traveled480.89/298.81
Most/Least Steps Taken in a Day37,093 (July 29th)/5,311 (July 8th)
Time Challenge was Completed11:17 p.m. on July 31st
Weight Lost2.3 kilograms (5 pounds)
Calories Burned19,880
Sweatcoins Earned385.78 ($19.28)
Total MiFit Battery RechargesTwo

Try Your Own 20,000 Steps a Day Challenge

I recommend the 20,000 steps a day challenge to anyone who wants to become more active. Steps are effortlessly countable, easy to achieve, and take you places you may never have gone otherwise.

You will notice changes both mental and physical and will find yourself out in the world thinking clearly and moving freely.

Some days the challenge will feel more like a chore. You may doubt yourself and struggle at times, but you will come out on the other end a stronger and more determined person.

Even if you look like a lunatic as you pace around the occasional bus station.


Next Challenge →

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