On Sunday, May 14, I finally achieved a fitness goal that I’ve been working on since summer 2015; 100,000 FitBit steps in one day. I’ve attempted this incredible goal several times last year and was unable to pull it off. But in that, I’ve learned what worked and what didn’t. The big key was having a good plan.
I stopped going for it in September 2015 due to less daylight (I wouldn’t try the goal at night). So I had the fall and winter to plan how I would accomplish the goal of Olympian Sandal (the FitBit badge name for 100,000 steps). So here’s the plan.
Time: You will pretty much need a whole day to do this. I got up very early (4:55 a.m.) and started walking at about 5:28 a.m. (a little bit before sunrise). I finished up at 100,000 steps at approximately 8:28 p.m., an exhausting 15 hours later, and the sun didn’t exactly set yet (but was quite close to it).
Route: I did some rough calculations (which were a little off). I used Google maps to map out my trail (I did deviate slightly from this). I would go from my place in Clayton Park to Point Pleasant Park, back to my place, up the Bedford Highway to Sunnyside Mall, come back to my place again, head back to Point Pleasant Park (I didn’t go all the way this time; just to the IWK Hospital), to my girlfriend’s parent’s place (for some water), back up the Bedford Highway to a restaurant off Larry Uteck, then towards Lacewood, up and down a bit, then back to my place. I walked around the building, parking lot, and surrounding areas several times until I got to about 99,000. I hit 100,000 inside my condo. I mapped it at approximately 76 kilometres (it was closer to 81 kilometres), which I thought would equal 100,000 steps.
Fuel: With my route, I was sure to stay fuelled. For breakfast I had my usual oatmeal, Greek yogurt, chia seed, cinnamon, skim milk and orange juice, and one cup of egg whites (via microwave). A bit before 11:00 a.m. in Bedford, I stopped for a six-inch sub (double the meat) with lots of vegetables, cookies, and chocolate milk. I mapped my route so that I would stop by my place to hydrate/refuel with some smoothies (prepared on Saturday night). Furthermore, I carried my credit card so that I was able to stop in some stores if I knew that I wasn’t going to be back at my place anytime soon. My massage therapist strongly encouraged me to stay hydrated, so I planned for this.
Clothes: This may sound trivial, but what I wore was very important. I wore light running shoes, light jogging pants, a long-sleeved athletic shirt, a light jacket with a hood, and I carried gloves. The weather was supposed to be cloudy with some light showers and somewhat cool. I didn’t want to walk being cold, but I knew from experience that walking in mid-July on a clear hot sunny day wouldn’t be too good either. May was a good month. I never really felt too cold (except at 5:28 a.m. when I started) nor too warm (except when I walked up a steep hill). What I wore kept me just right. I also had a running belt on. Last year, I tried carrying a backpack (with my water canister and other items) with me. This was a mistake, as the backpack started hurting my shoulders after several hours (even with the light contents).
Entertainment: Obviously with the long day ahead, I needed to stay entertained. I have a variety of music (LesMills playlists obviously, and various other songs), but I decided to try and download my first bunch of podcasts for variety. While I read various updates by BODYATTACK™ International Master Trainer and Presenter Bevan James Eyles, I never downloaded and listened to his (or any other) podcasts. So I took a few from 2011 and 2012 on inspiration and rest. It turned out to be a great listen (and source of motivation), and it made the first two and a half hours pass so fast that I wish that I had downloaded more for the rest of the day.
While on the topic of entertainment, I also knew that I had to stay mentally stimulated. On one of my 100,000 step attempts last year, once I went on the Chain of Lake Trails (which goes down to Yarmouth, a good 300 or so kilometers from Halifax). The trail is pretty much all forest with occasional houses/small communities along the way, and no guarantee of water or restrooms. What I found most frustrating about the trail was the lack of mental stimulation. With the exception of some people here and there, the trail was virtually empty. The silence (albeit having my music) and seemingly emptiness actually annoyed me after several hours. Once I was done at about 60,000 steps at around 6:00 p.m., I knew that if I was going to hit 100,000, I shouldn’t do it on this trail.
Emergencies: Going for 100,000 can take a toll on your health, and I wouldn’t recommend trying it out right away, especially if you have not built up your endurance. While I exercise regularly, often at high intensity, I knew that, as I neared 100,000, things would become harder and more challenging (which they did). Last year, I left my car with my girlfriend so that, if I was unable to walk any more, she could pick me up and bring me home. This year, my girlfriend’s mother offered me the lift. While I didn’t need it (as I did get to 100,000 steps), I was glad that I had a driver standby ready. My massage therapist also offered, but I did tell her that I was okay.
Motivations: It goes without saying that, if you’re trying out for something demanding and exhausting, you’re going to need a lot of motivation. Obviously I was intrinsically motivated (e.g., getting the FitBit badge, proving to myself that I could do this), I had encouragement from those in my life. My girlfriend and her mother did check-in on me throughout the day with encouraging words, along with fellow instructors, and to see how I was doing.
Days Before: In leading up to the big day, I was experiencing a lot of excitement and anxiety. I found myself staying up later than usual, imagining how I was going to do on Sunday, what I would be experiencing by the end, and immediately afterwards. While Saturday is usually a leg day at the gym, I focused on my arms and shoulders to give my lower body as much rest as I could (even though I still taught my classes). When I went for the pre-walk massage and told my therapist what I was going for, she suggested doing a different treatment, as my regular one wouldn’t have been wise for my Sunday walk. I did an Epsom salt bath when I got back for only about 30 minutes (normally I can do an hour or even more provided I have a good book). That evening, I prepared some smoothies and my Sunday night dinner. I didn’t want to spend any time on Sunday preparing smoothies and I knew I wanted a massive dinner that night.
The Walk: Things started out well, but I knew what I was in for. In the morning, I noticed that I was averaging about 7,500 steps an hour, and I thought that I had calculated things properly. Just before 1:00 p.m., I got to 50,000; halfway there, and getting more excited. I knew that I’d get 100,000 by the end of the day as I had a lot of daylight left. But I noticed that as the day went on, my steps per hour were becoming less and less. I still wouldn’t run, as I knew I needed my energy. I knew that I was going to go over my time. By mid-afternoon, I started feeling my mental health was becoming a bit affected with everything. I was talking aloud to myself, repeating to keep moving no matter what, to never stop, and to not rest at all, that I’ve been aiming for this for virtually a year, and that today was the day. By 5:00 p.m. I made it up to Larry Uteck to a restaurant to say farewell to a fellow instructor who was moving away, but I wouldn’t stay for the social. I made my way back down to the Bedford Highway and got to 75,000 steps by 5:30 p.m. This is when I told my girlfriend that I was going to run until 100,000. I switched my playlist to one I named “Running,” containing various songs/themes from Rocky, Rambo, the opening to Chrono Trigger, and other movies/video games for that rush of adrenaline. Then I was off, thinking/calculating that, if I clock in 10,000 steps an hour doing this, I could finish by 8:00 p.m. I got up to Lacewood and rehydrated at a grocery store, and continued to run up the street. I turned around at Parkland Drive and went back down, running up and around little paths and sidewalks along the way to add up the steps. But then after the Dunbrack Lacewood intersection, it finally happened; I was unable to run. I had to go back to walking. When I got to Clayton Park Plaza, I went into the GoodLife to walk for a little bit on the treadmill. Then I went back out. The sun was still up, and I knew when it set, I could still walk some more for a little bit. But getting from 95,000 (when I walked out) to about 99,000 was the most exhausting part of the walk. Unable to run anymore, I went on pure motivation to just walk. The badge, the glory, and seeing 100,000 steps on my daily stats, is what pushed me at the end to keep on going. I reflected back throughout the last 14 plus hours, how others believed in me, that today was the day, and I wasn’t going to let them or myself down. I was beat, but knew that I had just enough energy and time to keep on going.
At 99,000 steps, I began to make my way back to my condo unit. I’d gather the last 1000 steps from the walk there and then from various errands. It was the homestretch for me and there would be no need for a victory lap. Then finally, after practically a year of mental preparation and planning, and 15 hours after 5:28 a.m., I earned 100,000 steps in one day; I did it.
I immediately sat down, staring at my FitBit and the app, letting my legs finally get their first true rest all day, and trying to come to terms with what I just did. I couldn’t believe it. Nearly what were almost two full marathons, I moved pretty much non-stop since I woke up that morning. It didn’t settle in. I wanted it to.
I text my girlfriend with the incredible news, and then others. Then I activated the Bluetooth, and synced my stats. I stared into the screen with a smirk; excited to see the steps hit 100,000. I stayed seated, appreciating that I can thoroughly sit for a bit. I felt like a child knowing what the exciting gift was under the tree on a Christmas morning; it wouldn’t be a surprise, but rather, what I asked for, what I wanted. Once synced, I looked at my Weekend Challenges, and saw the Olympian badge. I screen-shot my stats and the email notification from FitBit congratulating me, uploaded them to social media, and put my smart phone and FitBit away. I needed an Epsom salt bath (the first time that I would ever take two one day after another). As I took off my shoes and socks (one that developed a hole which I thought was a busted blister but wasn’t), a further feeling of relaxation and comfort overcame my feet. It felt great to just to not move. But I still needed some strength to even take a bath and then start my victory meal; a box of macaroni and cheese, 500 grams of extra-lean ground turkey, and a lot of protein bread.
After the Epsom salt bath (only 30 minutes, as I was desperate to eat), I started to prepare dinner and took a look at my social media and the Weekend Challenge progress room. Many were blown away that I pulled off 100,000 steps, and so was I. Deeply impressed, they congratulated on accomplishing what I set out to do last year.
While taxing and draining, I must say that I think that my initial BODYATTACK™ training was actually tougher. But I’m thinking that maybe it’s because I have better endurance now than in 2011.
Aftermath: the next day I was surprisingly able to decently walk, although I was not 100% even several days later. I took the day off from work to recover at home (after a good brunch with a fellow instructor friend up the road). I kept thinking about the day before, and was a bit sad that the goal that I worked on for so long was now over. A 200,000 FitBit badge doesn’t even exist, and I doubt that it could truly be pulled off. So what’s next? There is a badge for 700 floors in one day (which I’ll go for), and the lifetime badges are there too. Walking 80 plus kilometres a day does motivate me to try a marathon someday (given I essentially did nearly two in one day) along with other things…