10 Reasons to Walk Alone

Woman Walking Solo
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At graduation ceremonies around the world, graduates will hear the tune, "You'll Never Walk Alone," from Carousel.
Is that a promise or a curse?

What's so bad about walking alone? Here are reasons I sometimes enjoy walking alone.

1. Pace: It's impossible to really go your own pace when walking with somebody else. Larry Longlegs or Suzy Shortlegs can be a pain to try to match pace with.

2. Getting together: It is hard to find a partner who is ready to walk when you are.

Maybe I prefer mornings or after work or lunchtime, but any willing partner has an opposite preference. It gets expensive posting classified ads looking not for love but for a walking partner.

3. Early, late, or never: So you make a date to walk with a partner -- and he shows up late, or doesn't show up. Your schedule gets blown and you don't get in the walking you planned to do. Sally Stressedout always arrives 15 minutes late with some heartbreaking excuse, expecting sympathy, while you've been getting in your walking pacing the floor.

4. The need for speed: I want to build speed, but my walking partners don't want to racewalk. Or it may be a downer day and my walking partners have turned into racehorses. Ruthie Roadrunner or Sam Slug leave you in the dust or hold you back.

5. Tough enough: I want to do some hills but my walking partner whines the whole way up or down, dreads the next hill, etc.

Or maybe it's me doing the whining because my planned easy walk has turned into an Everest expedition. Wind, rain, sun, bugs, hills, dust, gravel, traffic are part of the walking experience -- get over it.

6. Going the distance: I want to build distance to prepare for a long event, but my partners never want to do more than 10K.

Not a problem -- unless you've carpooled to where you plan to walk. Or the look they give you when you say you need to go another 5K and will do it alone.

7. Event choices: I want to enter a charity walk but my partner thinks it is too expensive or too crowded. There is a great walking event held an hour away, but my walking partner has chores to do and just wants to walk the neighborhood....again.

8. Chatter: Maybe I don't feel like talking, or like listening. It gets embarrassing if you "zone out" and then realize they are asking you for an opinion or advice on the tale you weren't really listening to. When doing a faster walk or hills, I usually don't feel like talking, I feel like breathing.

9. Misery doesn't always love company: On long distance events or speed events, I don't want company, I am concentrating on my own form, my own endurance, my own needs. I don't need anybody else's misery intruding on my own.

10. Eat, drink, and restroom: With a partner, deciding when and where to take a restroom break, drink, eat a snack or stop for a celebration meal on the way home becomes a matter of negotiation.

When to Walk Alone

To get into a good walking habit, you need to keep to a walking schedule. Finding a partner with the same goals who is also able to keep a schedule is difficult. The result is that you will need to walk alone some days as your walking partner is busy, sick or vacationing.

Stick to Your Walking Schedule: It is important to accept that you will be walking solo sometimes, and keep to your walking schedule anyway if you wish to meet your goals -- fitness, weight control, speed, endurance.

A partner can keep you on track by showing up to walk, rain or shine, in sickness and in health. They can be a great motivator. But you only get the full benefit if you commit to yourself to walk alone on the days your partner is not available.

The Benefits of Solo Walking

  • Meet new people: I walked for years with my husband on volkssport walks and never met anybody. When he got busy and I went alone, suddenly I began to make dozens of walking friends.
  • Explore your limits: Change your route on a whim. Go further and faster.
  • Listen to your own music: If you simply must have some entertainment, plug in your favorite music player and enjoy music, podcasts or audiobooks. Or sing, play a flute or kazoo and be the entertainment.
  • Stop and shop, eat, drink, see a movie or a play along the route: I have spent 5 hours doing a 10K walk in Las Vegas, and made money along the way as I gambled! I've shopped at garage sales, stores, farmers markets. I've ducked into a cute little restaurant to enjoy on a whim. These can be difficult to negotiate when walking with a partner.

    Solo Safety When Walking Alone

    Safety is a big reason for people to avoid walking alone. It is a very good reason -- your risk of stranger attack is greatly reduced by walking with a partner.

    It is also important to avoid walking alone on forest trails where help may not be readily available in case of a health emergency. Falls, broken bones, bee attack, heart attack, stroke and heat sickness are all real dangers.

    To reduce the risks:

    • Let Others Know: Always leave notice of where you are going and when you are expected to return with a household member. If you live alone, leave a note.
    • Cell Phone: Carry a cell phone to have handy for 911 and other minor emergencies. But don't be a distracted walker by making and taking calls while walking.
    • First Aid Kit: Carry a small first aid kit.
    • Bee Sting Kit: If you are allergic to bees, carry your bee kit.
    • Dog: Walk with a dog. The bad people would rather victimize somebody who doesn't have a dog likely to make noise or attack them.
    • Walking Stick or Walking Poles: Carry a walking stick or walk with walking poles and know how to use them to ward off an attack. Simply having a stick may make you a less-appetizing target.
    • Weapons: If you choose to carry a weapon (including pepper spray), get training and adhere strictly to the laws of the area in which you are walking.
    • When to Call 911: Know the symptoms of health emergencies such as heart attack and heat sickness and seek assistance immediately.

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