I walked over 500 miles in the mornings this summer. Took just under 60 days and was surprisingly easy once I started. Here are 15 things I learned from the experience.

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First, I never set out to do this. I just started paying attention to my watch. My Apple Watch experience has been good. It ships with notifications, reminders, timers, all of which have been helpful for my day to day productivity.


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This animation is surprisingly motivating.

Then there are those rings. Apple suggests you merely “close your rings”. They don’t start as rings, they start as a tiny line like a clock that’s at 12:01am — over time they fill in based on walking, general movement, and standing. The watch then begins to encourage you. “You can do it”, “c’mon, just a few more minutes and you’ll hit your goal”

I never set a goal, however. Who decided there’s a goal? Well, it sort of ships with a goal. The watch suggests you go for 570 calories a day burned by walking, plus 30 minutes of exercise, plus standing for a few minutes at least once an hour for 12 hours a day.


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~9.1 miles a day for 55 days

It’s pretty easy to move for 30 minutes. And most people will stand at some point in an hour (Sundays after a night at the pub might be more challenging). Walking for the 7–10 miles a day, however, is a different story. At a relaxed pace I tend to go around 3.75 miles in an hour. My Apple Watch says I averaged 9.1 miles each day for the last 55 days.


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Largest single day of walking was 15.1 miles (in Santa Barbara)

Here are 15 things I observed over the 500 miles.

Walking doesn’t get you that sweaty. If at a comfortable pace you won’t need to shower or change clothes.It doesn’t take many homeless people to make a city block smell bad. There aren’t public toilets and all humans need to go to the bathroom. It’s easy to get angry with someone for it, but if you have nowhere to go, what would you do? That being said, the stench on certain blocks is simultaneously annoying, angering, saddening, tragic, unusually consistent and shockingly pungent. Fog really helps dampen the smell. Heat does the opposite.Chewing gum prevented me from succumbing to the smell of buttery flaky breads and pastries when I passed by bakeries most mornings.Most memorable moment in 500 miles? Sadly it was passing a covered body of a guy who had jumped from a downtown hotel only a few minutes prior. Police were just putting up the tape to secure the area. Surreal. Quiet. The man was likely by himself as no one was around other than the police.AirPods are worth every penny. Using just one ear helps with ambient noise (i.e. approaching traffic) and lengthens your battery life if you’re doing a lot of listening or talking.You’ve probably missed the tops of buildings or unusual architecture which has been in plain sight. I found the most amazing design and ornaments on buildings just by looking up.Walking regularly raises the bar for what is considered a “long” distance. I’ll routinely consider a destination 5 miles away without giving it a moment’s thought. I sometimes thought “maybe I’ll Uber back” and haven’t yet done it.There is a surprising amount of discarded inkjet printers on sidewalks.While SF is known for its numerous hills, you can walk to almost any neighborhood without a large incline. Twin Peaks was the only major climb.Certain tourists start wandering around the City very early. Most of the people between 6–8am are European. The line for Alcatraz boats starts quite early.In San Francisco, walking from Laurel Village to the ocean (taking Geary or Clement all the way) was a great sampling of various ethnicities.I thought I’d lose weight faster with all this exercise. I lost around 6 pounds. Could be that I lost fat but gained muscle. For a while there I found a Krispy Kreme on my walk which unwittingly tapped into my “I’ve earned it” gratification cycle thereby undoing much of my good work.Watching the way butchers in Chinatown prepare meat each morning is a sensory feast and may catapult you into a vegetarian lifestyle.After regular walking, sitting at a desk feels way different. When I’m sitting I feel like a complete slug. As much as standing desk and treadmill desks feel like a fad, I now get why people feel like they “need” to be moving. We’re not meant to sit. We’re engineered to walk (for long distances), kill food and then sleep. Like college if you live off campus.If you walk around 2 hours a day while listening to podcasts, you can consume 1,000 hours of podcasts or audiobooks every year. Just listen to them at 2x speed. It’s a huge amount of content that would otherwise take a long time to read (especially if you’re the ADD type or fall asleep easily)

I don’t know how much longer I’ll do the walking. I don’t feel compelled to quit, nor do I feel I need to hit any sort of larger goal. It feels good to get that little celebration animation on the watch. It feels good to move, and when you stop and actually look at a City like San Francisco without being in a “gotta get where I’m going” focus, you’ll find an entirely new and interesting experience.


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Co-founder of Mann Consulting and Clicktime. On the internet since 1979. Passionate about systematizing business, design, and radical candor.