The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Monday, 2 June 2014

Anatomy of a 26.3-mile Day

One of the fun things about the Fitbit (which is essentially a pedometer with bells and whistles) is that it provides a graph showing how many steps have been taken in each 15-minute segment of the day. I thought that the graph that resulted from yesterday’s 26-miler was moderately interesting, so I’ve annotated it with seven numbered boxes which relate to the seven observations below:


1) I didn’t leap out of bed and immediately start walking as this suggests. The Fitbit isn’t good at capturing bursts of movement comprising fewer than five steps, and Colin’s size (particularly with the bed still in situ) is such that it’s not possible to take five steps in one go. However, you can clearly see where I set out just a few moments before 6.30 (the red bar, denoting 65 steps is the segment 0615-0630).

2) Look at all those green bars between 0630 and 1130! I clearly didn’t take any significant breaks during that period, I just kept striding along. As a result, I covered 15.7 miles before 1130 (which was A Good Thing – I find it demotivating if I have too many miles left to walk after lunch).

3) The only break I took during the morning was between 0845 and 0900, and must have only been a few minutes, as I still managed 1000 steps in this segment. I stopped at a bench, gave my socks a shake to de-sand them, and shoved a banana in my mouth. I did pause on another bench some time  later to inhale some fig rolls, but that was such a short break that it doesn’t stand out.

4) A good long (early) lunch break, feet up, doing nothing!

5) It looks like I wasn’t feeling as energised as I had been in the morning, as the less active segments are coming far more frequently. In the morning I had managed 2 hours or more between less active segments. In the afternoon the most I managed was 45 minutes.

6) Afternoon tea! A much longer break than I would usually take in the afternoon, and one I wouldn’t have taken to such an extent if Mick and Colin hadn’t been there.

7) The two amber lines are me slogging up the final hill of the (hot) day, at a visibly slower pace than I’d achieve on earlier hills. Then, apparently, at 1645 I sat down and didn’t stand up again. That’s not quite a true representation of reality - see point 1 above.


  1. Which model of the Fitbit thing do you have and do you recommend it? There are some awful reviews when you read about these gadgets, but I reckon they are probably from people who don't properly understand how they would be expected to work.

    1. I have the Zip and have no complaints about it. It doesn't do ascent or sleep (I don't see the latter as being any benefit to one who sleeps as well as I do!), but it has the advantage of having a replaceable battery, so I can use it on long walks, whereas the other models need to be recharged regularly.

      I have a friend who has a Fitbit One, which also does ascent, but she says the ascent figure can be a bit random.

      The model about which I've read the most complaints is the Flex, which seems to suffer from inaccuracy and low durability.

      Personally, I find it to be a good motivational tool (I've set myself a modest target of 5000 steps per day, and keep an 'unbroken chain' calendar, which means I sometimes find myself going out for a walk around the block late in the evening, whereas, in the pre-Fitbit days, I would have just resigned myself to having had a lazy day). I also find it fun to have the motivation of 'competing' again friends and within league tables. I can see that people who don't find such things motivational would soon lose interest in it.

    2. Just for clarity, my 5000 steps isn't really a target, but a minimum. My current average is over 20000 steps per day, but I don't use that as a reason not to hit at least 5000 every day.

  2. a review of such things on '' says it all - beware of obsession, indeed! but it would be easy to become both entranced and motivated , I suspect.