On 10 March 2021, my friend Helmut1 and I attempted walking 100,000 steps in a day — and we failed.
We were on an island in Norway called Smøla. The route we chose was a 10 km long road along the sea connecting two towns. That was pretty much the only plan we had. We had only decided to do it a few days earlier, and apart from buying a few snacks, there was no preparation. We thought we’d be fine since we could stock up on supplies on either end of the route.
What I have learned on that day is that the two most important things for such an undertaking are:
- Ensuring Hydration and Food
- Mental Strength
Hydration and Food
Apart from choosing a good route, I think it is of utmost importance to plan your hydration and food intake for the day. Not drinking enough might have been our biggest mistake that day. I’m pretty sure I drank less during our walk than what I’d usually drink working at my desk. One reason, I think, was that I was cold and the water was cold as well. I just didn’t feel like drinking because I didn’t want to get even colder. It would have been better to have some warm water or tea which wasn’t available to buy at the stores we could go to.2
We also didn’t eat enough. I’m not sure if I even got to 2000 calories worth of food despite walking for so. many. hours. But I didn’t really feel hungry either, so I’m not sure what the plan would be for the next attempt. Maybe it would be good to plan out the calories ahead of time and schedule the food so that there’s no decision-making involved.
I had expected this, but I only found out what this really meant after reaching my limits. I would speculate that any reasonably fit person is physically able to walk 100,000 steps in a day. However, having the mental strength to actually push through the challenge is a different thing. I would say that the first 50,000 steps are pretty easy. After that, it gets progressively harder, although I could imagine that once you’ve reached about 90,000 steps, it might become easier to actually finish the challenge.
Why I Think We Actually Failed
I believe that, under normal circumstances, we would have succeeded the challenge. However, it wasn’t a good time of the year, and it wasn’t a good day either. While it wasn’t raining that day, temperatures in Norway are still pretty low in March (I think it was between 0 °C and 5 °C). On top of that, there were strong winds for a significant part of the day which both required more energy to move and made it even colder (which, in turn, required even more energy). Combine that with the lack of hydration and calories, and you have the recipe for failure.
Yes, my legs felt really bad after walking roughly 60 km, but if it hadn’t been as cold and windy, and if I had been properly fed and hydrated, I’m pretty sure I could have pushed through it to the end. Helmut felt similarly, but I do think that he could have made it even under these circumstances, and that my decision to quit affected his mentality.
So, How Many Steps Did You Actually Do?
We started our walk at 4:15 a.m. while it was still dark outside. We only took short breaks until around 1 p.m. where we had a slightly longer lunch break. I made my decision to quit around 5:30 p.m., but still walked back home.3 We got back around 6:45 p.m. At the end of the day (so including all steps I’ve taken after being back home, which weren’t many to be honest), I was at 86,292 steps. You would think, “wow, that’s so close to the finish line, why did you stop?”, but finishing it would have been another two hours of walking at least (our pace was super slow in the end), and I was freezing, dehydrated, dizzy, and felt a bit sick. I’m glad I tried, and I think it was the right decision to quit at that point. I don’t regret it.
Will You Try Again?
If you’d have asked me on the evening that day, I would have said No. But after reflecting on the experience (and after noticing that I felt pretty good the next day except for the dehydration), I think I might actually try it again. It sounds crazy, but failing once and trying it again sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
Have you ever done anything like this? Would you try walking 100,000 steps in one day? Please let me know in the comments below!
PS: Expect more Norway videos on my YouTube channel soon!
In Japan, there would have been countless vending machines providing us with warm drinks. 😅 ↩
The walk home was another 8000 steps, so I was pretty proud that I made it without having someone pick us up in a car. ↩