Milestones: Calibration and Celebration

IMG_0167Improvements from baseline can easily be measured. Strength, flexibility, endurance – these all come down to numbers.

…said I. Well, yes, and…

First, the good news: By my most conservative count, on Thursday I hit 100 miles in my quest to log 1,000 miles by my 55th birthday.

Now, the bad news: Measurement, it seems, is a slippery thing. (And, I hasten to add, this is not any mathematical shortcoming on my part. This is what you might call instrument failure.)

I began with such high hopes, confident as I was in the technology available to us all. I had no fewer than four apps counting my every step, GPS following my every move. But in a real-world twist of fate that I confess I find perversely reassuring, those apps couldn’t keep up with me. Not reliably. One day was either 11,190 steps / 5.3 miles, or 14,094 steps / 5.52 miles, depending; another credited me with 9 miles round-trip to the Zumba class I knew to be less than 2 miles away – maybe 3 since I took the long way.

What’s a girl to do?

Invest in more technology, of course!  The Jawbone Up Move (the least expensive of the fitness trackers out there, pushed into  impulse-purchase-eligibility by Amazon’s 30% off sale) looked like the answer to my prayers.  Worked right out the box, except for a preternatural preference for its default setting: male, 6′, 185 lbs., born 1987.  I was married in 1987 and only approach 6′ with the assistance of a ladderbut at least it seemed to count reliably.

And then there was the challenge of calibration. Just how long is my stride? How many steps to a mile? I used a tape measure; I compared notes with D; I reverse engineered walks, dividing distance by steps to derive stride. Finally, I paced off several quarter miles on the boardwalk and came up with what I think is a respectable constant.  Which happily aligns with what the Up has settled on, thus completely restoring my confidence in the little guy.

That number also turns out to be a lot fewer steps per mile than I had thought.  Meaning: I’ve been walking a lot more miles than I believed.  About 20 percent more. So instead of my target 5 1/2 miles per day, I’ve been logging closer to 7 — and on one memorable day that included my morning constitutional with K., circuitous midday errands in town and an afternoon stroll with I. and D., I had logged well over 11 miles before I tumbled into bed.

What’s not to love?

This has to be one of the few places where being wrong about time and distance is actually a good thing. I can feel the strength increasing in my legs and – ahem – butt. My definition of “within walking distance” (already an outlier, I understand) now stretches  to  3 miles. It’s not a bad mindset.

So: today I celebrate. I celebrate confirmation of a hard-won calibration and 100+ miles’ progress toward a long-term goal that feels increasingly real and achievable.  Milestone: check!


16 thoughts on “Milestones: Calibration and Celebration

    1. Ah! In the end, I really like Jawbone’s UP Move (a little pocket-watch like fob that you wear on your clothes), which transmits its data via Bluetooth to computer/tablet/phone/ipod. Step counts have proven to be reliable – I’ve counted and paced out distances and they match – which was a real issue with several others. Easy to use – all you have to do is put it on in the morning and go then sync it up at some point when you’ve got a moment to fire up Bluetooth (so also easy on battery use).

      I tried: Apple’s “Health” app, Accupedo, MapMyWalk, and Walkmeter. I’ve been a fan of MapMyWalk for recreating walks after the fact, but when I used it while walking it seemed to think I was jumping all over the street as I went and “credited” me with much more distance than I actually covered.

      The Up’s data charts are very readable – nice infographics – and it provides silly yet oddly motivating congratulatory messages and challenges. In my first day of use I apparently walked far enough to have climbed the Eiffel Tower eight times. Cheesy – mais, quel fromage! For someone who doesn’t really want to be tied to electronics all the time (me), it’s a great option.


  1. Thanks again Lynn,   I’ll rest easy tonight imagining you calculating your pace – walking backwards.  It seems a number of years ago you posted a photo of you doing a NAMI walk backwards!  That’s the image that came to mind as I read this post.  Thanks for that!  Enjoy your evening!


    1. I did do that! I love that you remember. I even made a video with sound track to prove I made good on my promise. Walking: it’s all good! 🙂


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