January Habits

January Habits: 10,000 steps

It’s January, so it’s time to pick some habits to follow throughout the year. Some I’ve been doing for a while, some will be new. I still have room for a couple more, so let me know me know if you have any suggestions.

First off, I chose this as I thought it would be fairly straight forward and easy to measure. Looking into it further, it turns out that 10,000 steps a day is no longer the recommended amount of exercise, instead it’s three brisk 10 minute walks per day. I could change my challenge but we’re already 5 days into January and I probably do enough walking/running to meet or exceed the health target anyway, so this is more just for fun (although I don’t see why extra steps aren’t good exercise anyway).

I’ve previously noted that my normal day is between 6000 and 8000 steps unless I go for a run, so I don’t think 10000 steps is too ridiculous. I also mentioned that my watch sets a different daily target depending on whether the previous day’s goal is met or not, however I’m ignoring that for the purpose of this habit.

The aim is to do the 10,000 steps every day, but there are of course some exclusions such as being ill, having to self-isolate or otherwise being physically incapable of doing the exercise. I could come up with a definitive list of rules but I’d be bound to miss something.

As I said, we’re five days into the year so we can have a look at how I’m doing so far:

1 Jan – 16,733 – I started the new year with a 7 mile run so this one was easy to achieve.

2 Jan – 11,429 – I was planning to do a 10km walk, but shortly after starting it began to rain and I also realised I wouldn’t finish before it got dark so cut my walk very short. Fortunately my planned takeaway choice later was shut so I had to walk further to get to the next one that was open.

3 Jan – 24,499 – A 13 mile bank holiday Monday run ensured that I easily hit the step target.

4 Jan – 10,048 – This was the first day that I almost failed. Despite going out to do some chores and adding a really long diversionary walk to get home, I was only on 9500 at bedtime so I had to walk around my flat for another 500 steps. I can see this being a common occurrence if I’m not too far off the target, but hopefully not too often.

5 Jan – 17,858 – Another 7 mile run sorted it out today.

Come back later in the year to see if I can keep it up.


So many steps

This post is really a follow-up to last weeks. If you haven’t read that one, you might want to do that first.

One of the consequences of doing a lot of running is that my step count is massive. The recommended daily step target is generally around 10,000 steps. However, my Garmin watch works slightly differently and if the step count is hit one day, the target step count is increased the next day for a greater challenge. And the greater the step count is beaten by, the larger the increase (up to a limit). Conversely, if the step count isn’t beaten, the target drops. (There’s a good explanation of how it’s calculated here.)

My normal commute to and from work normally results in about 6000 steps, and I can easily get it to 8000 with a leg stretch at lunchtime. That obviously leaves me a bit short, but I often go for a run or can deliberately do some more walking to get to the target.

However, recently I’ve been doing so much running that my target is now at some of the highest target levels that I’ve seen. For example, my watch gave me a target of 14,870 steps for today. Which sounds like it may be a problem to reach, except that I went for a 6 mile run earlier which has taken me up to 17,951 steps for today.

The graph above shows my step count over the last few weeks (blue line) and my ever increasing step goal (orange line). It’s easy to see the days that I’ve not been out for a run (or been on a long walk). These are normally Mondays and Fridays as those are the rest days in my marathon training plan, but it does sometimes vary.

Here’s how my step count and target vary for the 15 September over the last few years:

  • 2021 – Walked: 17951 – Target: 14870
  • 2020 – Walked: 11879 – Target: 10200
  • 2019 – Walked: 14279 – Target: 12060
  • 2018 – Walked: 17281 – Target: 10570

So whilst the number of steps taken is fairly similar each year (at least for 15 September – maybe a different date would have been better to compare), the target number of steps is significantly higher this year which shows a much longer spate of meeting (or exceeding) the step goal over the last few weeks than I have previously. And that’s all because I’ve been doing so much running.

For completeness, here’s a graph showing the steps over the first half of September for the last few years. It’s not really very clear, but 2021 does have a higher average step count each day.