My 12 Hour Walk: What is the 12 hour walk, why did I do it, how did I do it, and what I learned from it.
What is the 12 Hour walk? In August I listened to a Rachel Hollis Podcast with Connor O’brady about the book he wrote, The 12 Hour Walk – Invest one day. Conquer your mind and unlock your best life. There are multiple rules to this 12 hour walk because the whole idea is to be alone with your thoughts for 12 hours. I of course had to read the book because it sounded very interesting. Here are the rules:
- There is no distance you have to walk, you can walk 1 mile or 50 miles, so stop as much as you want. Walk at whatever pace is good for you.
- You have to put your phone on airplane mode or do not disturb, you can not use your phone for anything, so no notifications, no music, no podcast, no audio books, nothing.
- You must walk alone, no friends, no pets.
- You must walk out your door to start the walk and walk back into your door to end your walk.
- No talking to anyone on your walk, people may say hi of course you can say hi but no conversations.
The goal of this walk is not physical though you will be pushing your body, it’s a mental toughness challenge, you will push your body out of its comfort zone and probably want to stop, so mentally you need push through. But more importantly you are spending a solid 12 hours alone with no distractions only your thoughts. The goal by the end of the walk is to change your mindset from your limiting beliefs to a “possible mindset” meaning you think about the things you don’t think you can do and overcome those thoughts to prove to yourself you can do things you never thought or imagined you could do.
Why did I do it? After reading the book, the challenge really excited me. It worried me a little, not walking for 12 hours but being with my own thoughts that long, what would I think about for that long? And I am not going to lie I am petrified of cats so was afraid of having a run in with a cat (FYI I only saw one cat in during my walk). Personally, I am always looking for physical challenges but for the last few years mental toughness challenges really motivate me. There were many reasons I wanted to do this challenge but the main two reasons were 1. I am on a mission to continuously grow and become my bests self and mental toughness can always be strengthened and that is what improves my life and pushes me forward. And 2. I believe, if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. I know walking for 12 hours alone would challenge me both physically and mentally.
How did I do it? I did not train for this walk, because there is no distance to walk you just walk and rest at your pace, there really isn’t any training needed. Prior to my walk I made sure to map out the general area I would be walking so my husband would know my route. I bought a backpack that held 75oz of water and had room for food. What I carried with me:
- Between my backpack water and water bottles I had a full gallon of water with me. I also had three packages of electrolysis to pour into my water bottles.
- Food- Nuts, Fruit strips, overnight oats bar, pretzels, 3 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (Great for hikes and walks due to the carbs, fats, protein, salt, and sugar… and does not need to stay cold.) I forgot my grapes in the refrigerate when I left for the walk.
- Toiletries items: Baby wipes in case I had to pee in the woods, hand sanitizer, band-aids, sunscreen, and tissues.
- Clothing- Shorts in case it got to hot, I had a pull over for the morning because it was cold, an extra pair of shoes and socks.
- Other items- Notecards and a pen to write down my thoughts, a small towel, pepper spray, phone charger, a credit card and my license.
When I was mapping out my walk I tried to think about restrooms and traffic during the hours I would be on busy roads so keep that in mind if you plan your own walk.
I started my walk at 5:40am, because it is dark, I wore a light vest and took a water bottle and walked around my neighborhood for the first two hours. I left my backpack by my mailbox so I could grab it before leaving the neighborhood and drop off my light vest and empty water bottle as well. Two hours without wearing the backpack was nice! Luckily there is new construction in our neighborhood, so I was able to use a porta potty before venturing out of the neighborhood. I then walked to a park which was about 6.5 miles away. Believe it or not the first 10 miles went by really fast, I realized I had not eaten anything, so I grabbed a fruit strip and planned to eat lunch once I reached the park. On my way to the park a police officer stopped me and asked, “everything okay?” I said “yes”, then she said, “nice day for a walk” and I said “yes, it is!” then she drove away. I guess seeing someone just walking with a backpack in the middle of the day is weird. Once I got to the park, they had a porta potty too, so I was able to use that. Then I sat down took some notes of my thoughts and ate lunch. There is a mile loop at the park so I put my backpack in a dugout (so no one would see it) and walked the mile backpack free. I use the porta potty again before heading back. Around mile 15, a cardinal bird flew right across the street as I was walking and sat on a tree and watched me walk. This meant a lot to me because my friend Ally passed and when I see cardinals, I know she is with me. She showed up in perfect timing, as always. As I approached a busy road someone pulled over to ask me if I needed a ride, I politely said no and kept walking. At about 20 miles my feet were really hurting so I changed my shoes and realized I had a huge blister on my left foot, so I put a Band-Aid on it. Also, at this time the water pouch/straw in my backpack decided to stop working as well, I was a little worried about not having that water and I got asked again if I needed a ride somewhere or if I was just out for a walk. There was a gas station a few miles away, so I walked there, used the rest room, emptied out my backpack water and bought 2 33oz water bottles. I was very glad I thought to bring a credit card. I sat down for a little bit and ate another peanut butter and jelly sandwich and wrote down my thoughts. I was about 8.5 hours in and had walked 25 miles. At this point my blister had popped and my sock was wet, so I changed out my socks and put a new Band-Aids on both my heels. As for my body, my hip flexors were tight and behind my knees were very sore. I have never been sore there before but my calves were tight which I think had something to do with behind my knees but who knows. In my mind I was thinking “what else is there to think about for 3.5 more hours!” Having 3.5 hours left and not wanting to be on any busy roads, I walked in neighborhoods around my neighborhood and some country roads that I have never been on. I did have to pee in the woods once, so I was glad I had my baby wipes and hand sanitizer. When I had about 90 mins left, I decided to sit for 30 mins and write my final thoughts down, so I found some shade (and bugs LOL) sat on my towel to relaxed. I knew I was about 30 mins from my house. So, I spend 30 mins sitting, then 30 mins walking the neighborhood then the last 30 mins walking in my neighborhood back to my house. With about 20 mins left I looked down and there was a painted rock, goal with the word love painted on it. I picked it up and on the other side there was a sticker for childhood cancer awareness. Another sign to be grateful for my health and that my body is able to walk for 12 hours. I timed it perfectly to be at my driveway right at 12 hours which was 33.05 miles, 76,687 steps. I burned over 4,000 calories.
When I got home I was exhausted, my feet really hurt, the back of my knees hurt, I was sweaty due to it being 85 degrees but I got to hug my boys and they got to see me accomplish something I never thought I would do. I love showing them anything is possible with the right mindset. Then I showed them my blisters and they were grossed out, Braxton said “yeah remind me never to do that.”
I took a cold shower, which felt amazing, and my husband had steak waiting for me. I really needed some protein at that point, it was the best steak I have ever eaten. After that I took an Epsom salt bath to let my legs soak and fell asleep on the couch around 8pm. I slept about 10 hours!
The next day I made sure to stretch for about 30-40 mins and went for a 2 mile walk just to get the lactic acid moving. My feet, legs, and behind my knees were still very sore. My blisters are still gross but all in all I felt good.
What I learned? (I learned a lot, but this article is so long already so here are 5 things I learned)
- I want to be more present in my life. Well, being in your own thoughts for 12 hours is probably something most people have never done. I was amazed at the number of times I said to myself “Oh I will look that up” my realization was “wow Google has become my go to”. It’s so easy to have a thought and then “look it up,” not so easy if you don’t have your phone. One of my personal values is to be present and I realized throughout my walk, life is busy, and I am always multitasking. If I go for a walk I am listening to a podcast or a book. If I am talking to someone and we think about something we grab our phones to “look it up.” I find myself saying “wait a minute” to the boys because I am on my phone instead of being present with them in the moment. During my walk I thought about all the reasons I don’t want my middle schooler to get a phone (Yes, I am that mom, my kids don’t have phones LOL.) I thought about the rules I would put in place when they do get them, and then I realized, I am not sure myself or my husband could even live by those rules and that is sad. Things like, not taking your phone out in the car to “fill time”, or during family time, at a restaurant, at a sibling’s soccer game. Think about it we make these rules and expectations for kids that us as adults can’t follow. I need to do better and live into my personal value and be more present.
- It’s time to live into my true passion. I have been very fortunate in my career thus far, in the last 18 years- I have been challenged, I have grown, I have good days and stressful days. But for years I have always wonder how people find their “passion” or “purpose” in life and of course with turning 40 this past year I really started digging into it for myself. That is why I started Live-Joy, LLC this past year (which is live healthy on purpose, choose joy every day). But on my walk, I really started to think about what that means and how it would bring fulfillment to my life. Don’t get me wrong I love what I do professionally, but I also want more. I really want to make a difference in people’s lives and not just help them but teach them how to live their best life, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I thought through different goals that could help me live into my passion of truly helping as many people as I can with their overall wellness. More to come on this! Find your passion and a way live into it.
- I need nature. I realized throughout my walk that I truly love being outside and in nature. I love being active and having the ability to keep up with the boys as they get older. I want to go on more hikes, more walks without my headphones, camping, canoeing, see more national parks, do more challenges like the 12 hour walk. I realized being in nature gives me energy. Throughout my walk I saw over 70 butterflies, this was special to me because when I ask for a sign, when I am searching for answers in my life, I ask to see butterflies and literally butterflies showed up throughout my walk, I took it as I was right where I needed to be, I was on the right path doing this challenge, investing in myself. For my own personal care, I need to be in nature more.
- I crave mental/physical challenges. For those of you that know me this is no surprise. I like having goals and challenges to strive for. One of my favorite programs for mental toughness is the 75Hard program (if you have never heard of it check out this podcast, then do it! #75HARD + #LIVEHARD: Winning The War Within & Unlocking Your Full (andyfrisella.com) FYI he cusses a lot.) I have completed it 3 times in a 10 months period. During my walk I thought about the challenge and how I want to do it again but make it more difficult, so in my 12 hours of “free time” I came up with a 75hard+ challenge, yes this is the type of stuff I think about. So, on top of the 75Hard daily tasks (take a progress picture, two 45 min workouts, one has to be outdoors, read 10 pages of a nonfiction book, follow a diet, no cheats no alcohol, drink a gallon of water) I am going to add more daily tasks, 1. a cold shower, 2. visualization, 3. 3-additional tasks. This will make it even more challenging for me. I can do hard things! I will do 75hard+ October 9th- December22nd (by the way figuring out days without a calendar was interesting but I had nothing but time.)
- My health, my wealth, and my future self. I did a lot of thinking about how I want to spend the next 40-50 years and what I want my life to look like, what sacrifices need to be made today for the future self I want to be. I want to be financially stable when I retire to be able to travel, spoil my kids and grandkids, and not worry about money. I want to have energy, be active, and healthy so I can travel and go on adventures with my family. My future self looks like an active, joyful, giving, present person. A few weeks ago, I read this book called Be Your Future Self Now, by Dr. Benjamin Hardy, if you are looking for a book to help you focus on your long-term goals and future version of yourself, I would recommend this book. Reading this book so recently probably sparked my thoughts during the walk, I enjoyed thinking about what changes need to be made today to be my best future self. If you have never thought about how the life you are living now is affecting your life in the future, take some time to dig into it. Sidenote- I was calculating how much I want in my retirement by how many years, months, and paychecks I have till I am 65 without a calculator because remember no phones, so I did some multiplication and long division on my note cards… and I thought I would never use the stuff I learned in 5th)
My final Thoughts.
Going back to the purpose of this walk it is to change your mindset to a possible mindset and release your limiting beliefs. I truly believe I can do hard things. I never would have imagined walking 33 miles in one day on purpose. But I did it. Yes, some people don’t get it, they may even call it stupid, but luckily, I am not some people! I am a mental tough person who will keep doing these challenges to become one of the few, one of the mentally strong people. Everyone who does this challenge will have a different experience and have different things that they learn, I would encourage everyone to do it. It’s one day, why not spend it with yourself for yourself.