5 Lessons From My 1000-Mile Year

Hiking at Clear Lake in Oregon
Hiking at Clear Lake in Oregon

On January 7th, 2012 I set a personal goal to walk, hike, run, and bike 1000 miles during 2012. Yes, I was going to do “A Thousand-Mile Year”. The miles had to be deliberate, intentional. They had to be for distance and cardio workouts – not just steps counted by everyday traipsing from the house to the mailbox or from the car to the grocery store. This goal was about staying active, being healthy, and wearing out some shoes! I had to average just about three miles per day to meet my goal. I set up my RunKeeper app to track my miles.

And so it began…

  • I went to the gym and walked and ran on the treadmill.
  • I hiked a bunch of trails – including the CREW Trails, Conservation 20/20 properties, FL state parks and preserves, and lava beds & river trails in Oregon.
  • I slogged through swamps and marshes.
  • I biked on islands, in cities, on narrow, winding, off-road dirt paths, and on long, cool Rails-to-Trails bikeways.
  • I trained for and walked/ran a 10K.
  • I discovered every house with a dog within 10 miles of my home – and can tell you which ones bark, which ones chase, and which ones are tethered to a chain.
  • I saw beautiful scenery and had some amazing encounters with wildlife.
  • I spent some fabulous quality time with the love of my life, who did many of those miles with me. (Thank you, Keith)

And on November 24th, 2012 (the 328th day of the year, but who was counting?) I reached my goal of 1000 miles. Hooray for me!

But, the interesting thing is that all along the way, something remarkable was happening. Even though my goal was simple – to get the miles done – I discovered that this experience really taught me a lot. Here are five lessons learned from my 1000-Mile Year:

  1. You make time for what’s important to you. Once I set my goal, there was no stopping me. I always made time to do my miles. If I missed a day, I’d make up the miles the next. My wise husband once told me “you make time for what’s important to you”, and I didn’t like it because I was too busy working and ignoring my family and feeling like a victim of my circumstances at the time. But he’s right. We choose to spend our time on what’s important to us, and the people around us take notice. How we choose to spend our time tells a great deal about what we value in our lives. Doing my 1000-Mile Year was important to me, and I’m happy that my husband chose to be my partner all through  it!
  2. Sometimes you need a rabbit. If you’ve ever seen a greyhound dog race, you know they chase a “rabbit” around the track. Some days when I needed to run or walk some miles and just didn’t feel quite up to par, it helped to have a partner be my rabbit – setting the pace and keeping me focused on the road ahead. It was especially true on those days when I was trying to run instead of walk. I’ve never been a good runner, so having my rabbit helped a lot! Thanks, Keith. Life isn’t so different. Sometimes you need a friend to help you along the way.
  3. Nature is the best medicine. I guess I’ve known this deep down all along, but this year I haven’t been sick at all (and I usually have a least one doozy of a cold each year). I attribute it to staying active and spending most of my days outdoors, hiking, biking, and walking on trails in some amazingly beautiful places.  Fresh air, soft ground, green plants, rain and sunshine are good medicine for body, mind, and spirit.
  4. You gotta roll with the flow. I started out my year by trying to do 3 miles each day. It quickly became clear that I wasn’t going to be able to accomplish that. Some days I had to work, had an injury, or had other obligations that kept me from hitting the road or trail. No worries. It just meant that the next day or the next weekend, I’d do a 10 or 15 or 25 miles bike ride or a few days in  a row of longer walks or hikes to make up for the lost mileage. I even got to where I’d look forward to the longer rides or hikes and we’d choose special places to go to do them. Things just don’t always work out the way we think or want, so you gotta roll with it!
  5. The journey is the goal. As Keith and other friends will tell you, I’m a little stubborn. When I set my sights on a goal, I don’t let anything deter me. I had to make that 1000-mile goal! And while having that goal kept me active all year and obliterated any excuses I had to be lazy, I actually started to enjoy each walk, each run, each hike, and each bike ride. Not a weekend went by when we didn’t have a nice outing to some place special. It became a special part of our lives to explore new places and enjoy favorite old trails and spaces. The journey became the goal. To live each day fully and share the experiences. And it made each day richer and full of joy.

So here I am on December 19th – having averaged 25 days and 90 miles per month of activity in 2012 for a total (so far) of 1080 miles. In spite of a bum foot from an old injury (or maybe it’s just due to getting old), I continue to walk, run, hike, and bike almost every day and am setting my sights on some kind of new goal for 2013 (I’m open to suggestions). I’m not sure what that goal will be yet, but I am already training for the Key West 5K  in January.

It’s not just about reaching the goal. It’s about staying active, strong, and healthy and sharing a life well-lived with the love of my life for a lot of years to come…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


  1. That is amazing! Congratulations! It feels great to be able to accomplish that and enjoy it! Many find it ridiculous that there are people out there who set these goals for themselves but they don’t understand how much fun it can actually be. Sure, like you said sometimes you had to kind of push yourself to do it or make up for it another day, but you had the days when Keith joined you not just for the workout but for the adventure. Once again, congratulations!

    • Thank you, Mariajose! I’ve never been much of an athlete, so setting a goal like this and publicly declaring it was good incentive to keep moving. Now, I can’t imagine life without being outdoors and active always! It’s just part of who I am now.

Leave a Reply to Deb Hanson Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.