How Do You Measure A Year?

December 30, 2017

My first end of the month check in on January 31, 2017.

997 miles behind me. 3 to go.

I walked my first mile in Dubuque, IA on January 1 after driving all day before the start of the start of J-Term. I walked 51 miles while was there. I would finish the month of January with about 95 miles, well on my way. I remember thinking, “Whew. I think I can do this.”

Some miles came with memorable news and milestones. I was walking when I received the news that my college best friend was pregnant. I was walking when I received the news that another friend had cancer. I walked 3 miles on my 39th birthday. I completed mile 421 on the day Jonas graduated from high school.

Miles were collected in Dubuque and Henderson, yes, but also in Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Indiana, Chicago, and Gulf Shores, Alabama. I worked out in my neighborhood, in downtown Henderson, at the YMCA, and anywhere I could count the miles or get someone else to walk with me.

Only intentional exercise counts, and I did almost all of it walking, jogging, and on an elliptical machine at the Y. The 20ish miles I got by biking, I counted at a 3:1 ratio (so that means I did about 60 miles to count the 20). The rules for counting miles are found here. My Fitbit helped keep me motivated, but I tried to not use my Fitbit to track my miles. Instead, I used the Map my Walk app on my phone and the distance tracker on whichever machine I was using. On the rare occasions I needed to use my fitbit, I used the number 2,200–as in 2,200 steps equals a mile for me.

I decided to do 1000 miles because I knew I needed some better exercise goals, and I knew that I needed to step up my exercise routines and stop phoning it in. Just because I went to the Y four times a week on average in 2016 doesn’t mean I worked out well, so going to the Y on its own is not a great goal for me. Having a total mile goal seemed like a good way to push myself to do better at this.

I also did it because Jenn challenged me to do it. She completed her 1000 mile goal on the last day of 2016…and that’s the day I decided to sign up for the challenge at This year, we chased the sun all year. Jenn chose the 1000 number because it works out to about 3 miles a day, which is close to the average distance that a woman living in Sub-Saharan Africa walks every day for water. Now, obviously, I don’t think that me walking for exercise is anything like the energy, courage, and determination shown by women in the world who take up this task out of necessity daily, but the number was chosen thoughtfully and provided a devotional and prayer opportunity along with the exercise.

To do this, I had to make up my mind to do it and dump the familiar excuses I always had for not being very diligent or purposeful in my exercising. 1000 miles doesn’t happen on accident. It has to be planned, intentional. I don’t have time to exercise, so I have to make time to exercise. That meant early mornings. That meant long days. That meant exercising when I could have been studying, writing a sermon, cleaning our house, fixing our dinner, or sleeping–and then I figured out more efficient ways to get the things done I needed to do. Did you know that it’s possible to go to bed at 9:00 at night to facilitate a 5:00 am alarm if you make up your mind to do it?  I exercised through pain (don’t worry, I checked in with both doctor and chiropractor about the particular pain I was experiencing). I exercised when I was exhausted. I exercised when I felt defeated, depressed, or frustrated.

Having a long-term goal, one that can’t be interpreted and one that I refused to cheat, was a game-changer. Having a year to meet it meant that I practiced discipline and devotion. Having a goal that had nothing to do with how many pounds or inches I was losing meant that no matter what the numbers on the scale or measuring tape were, I could feel strong and capable and proud of myself.

Today, I walk my last three miles and finish the year with 1000 miles behind me.

On Monday, I start my Journey to Jupiter, which for me means another 1000 miles. If you’re interested in taking the challenge, you can set your own mile goal.

How do you measure a year? However you count it, hopefully at the end you’re healthier, stronger, and wiser than when you started. Happy New Year, friends!

2 responses to How Do You Measure A Year?

  1. Chaplain Edward Huff December 30, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    Thanks for the most interesting post.Since I don’t currently have a car, walking and the city bus is the way of my life. I do about 20-30 miles in warmer weather, lately I have got a ride into town in the morning, so that cuts that back appreciably. Ministry seems geared to walking-I call it active meditation time. I get writing ideas and other good thoughts while passing the time that it takes to be on foot. I have a ministry interview next Tuesday, so please keep me in your prayers, as I can’t fathom any discernment blips about what I should do. It is in Columbus, IN, so it would require a radical change/move-but that is also what my ministry life has been about. We shall see. Blesings on your journey, both walking, spiritual, and whatever other you do. Chaplain Ed.

  2. So proud to call you friend. You have inspired me over and over this year. I’ve decided to set a goal of walking a marathon distance each week this year. Will be following you as you journey to Jupiter.