Day or Night, I Love Walking This City

29 Aug

I have a confession to make.

Remember earlier this year when I said I was going to use part of my newfound free time to work out?

And remember how I was true to my word on that first day and went to the gym to use the equipment?

Well … I haven’t gone back to the gym since then. Not even once.

Oh well.

I’m sure you’re surprised to learn this.

But here’s the thing: Even though I haven’t been using the gym, I have been staying active.

During the Day

I’ve been true to my word about running and walking around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, and for most of the summer, I’ve actually been doing it two or three times a week, sometimes more.

That’s right … I’ve been running AND walking. I still walk more than I run, but the balance has definitely shifted from earlier this summer.

The reservoir is about 1.6 miles around, which means if I do two counter-clockwise loops at a time, and I add in the distance from my apartment to the reservoir, then I run/walk almost 4.5 miles each time.

That’s not bad.

Actually, it’s pretty awesome.

Yes, the exercise allows me to offset the crap I’ve been eating (less than when I was in the office, but still more of it than I should be eating), get in better shape, and stay active. But there are other benefits too.

Like, for example, I’m able to clear my head when I’m making loops. I brainstorm blog post ideas. I catch up on my Matty in the Morning podcasts. I practice my air-guitar and air-drumming skills. I catch some rays. I ingest plenty of fresh air. And as a bonus, I check out the wildlife and the flora and fauna that’s all over my neighborhood. (The ducks and plants, too.)

All kidding aside, though, I’m serious about the exercise I’m getting. I even bought myself an armband for my iPhone and keys so I don’t have to keep them in my pocket. This morning I’m finally going to download the MapMyRun app. And I’ve created a workout playlist filled with all the Kanye, Jay-Z, Springsteen, Killers, Foo Fighters, and Moby that I can stand. (When I need a change, I just go back to my mix du jour.)

Earlier in the summer, I would make my loops around the reservoir in the morning. These days, I tend to reward myself with a couple loops after a productive day. Either way, it’s just good to get out and walk. And run. And sweat.

But that’s not the only exercise I’ve been getting this summer.

And at Night

I’ve also developed a new hobby: Walking the city at night.

As you know, I see a lot of movies. Many of them are at night at the AMC Boston Common theater. I like to drive in a part of the way, park my car around the St. Mary’s T stop on Beacon St., and take the T in to the theater.

But after the movie is over, there’s really no rush to get home. So I’ve been wandering through the Common, around the Public Garden, down Boylston St., cutting over to Newbury St., then down Mass Ave., turning onto Comm Ave., through Kenmore Square (often at the same time that a Red Sox game is getting out), and up Beacon St. to where my car is.

At around 9 or 9:30 p.m. on a weeknight, the streets are quieter, there’s usually a nice breeze, the city is gorgeous, and it’s just an awesome time to wander aimlessly.

I go at my own pace, taking the time to soak up the sights and sounds of the city at that hour. I stop to window shop here and there, or to grab some ice cream or yogurt, or to check out the Sox score, or to snap a picture, or to listen to a street performer or band (Midnight Snack was a nice diversion a couple weeks ago) … and whenever I get to my car, I get to my car. It’s relaxing, invigorating, and healthy (ice cream aside, of course).

I’d say I was just like Patsy Cline, but I have yet to go out walking after midnight.

I’m not sure I would do this if I lived in a city like New York, and I probably couldn’t do it if I lived in another part of Boston. So walking the city at night, in the direction and at the pace I do, has the added benefit of making me feel really lucky that I live where I do.

Urban Times recently wrote about the magical quality of exploring a city at night:

If you can, go and walk at night in your city. Do it now, during summer. Observe the day/night contrast, discover new details about your neighbourhood, find things you like and don’t like. Use all of this as a set of tools for becoming more aware of, not only your city, but yourself, and as a catalyst to induce change for the aspects of your city that you would like to see improve. At the end of the day, this place you live in is your home. Embrace it, engage with it and change it for the better.

After doing the nighttime walk a few times this summer, I’m not sure I’d change anything about Boston.

But I’ve learned at least one thing about myself from walking during the day and at night, in Chestnut Hill and through the downtown area … I really like doing it.

So I’m going to keep walking, and running, outside. And when the weather turns cooler, then I’ll stay inside and use the gym again. Either way, I’m actually doing what I said I would.

Good for me.

How often do you get out and walk, or run, in your city? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

15 Responses to “Day or Night, I Love Walking This City”

  1. Katharine Farrell August 29, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    That’s awesome, Martin! In order to walk in the city, I have to drive in and park too. There’s a great spot in between Park and Beacon on Mountfort. No meters!

  2. Justine Jordan August 29, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    I’ve actually seen some of your 4Sq checkins from these excursions and wondered what you’ve been up to! Pretty cool 🙂


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