Got wet; didn’t die

It is with profound regret that I announce that my regular Constitutionals have been moved from the “something I do a few times a week because I enjoy them” list to “something I do a few times a week because I’ve decided it might be kind of cool to keep my “no major health issues” streak going for another couple of decades.”

This is why I walked about four and a half miles today in the rain.

I should clarify: this was rain rain. As in “Rain, rain go away” rain. As in “No way I’m going out for a walk in this” rain. If a friend or an Uber driver had failed to pick me up somewhere as promised, and I had to walk four and a half miles to my hotel in this sort of weather, I’d be grumbling promises of dark retribution the whole way and well into the rest of the evening.

So it sickens me that I did this voluntarily. But I felt it was important.

I had some business to conduct several miles away this afternoon. It’s at one of those nexusplexes of coffeeshops and cafes and other places with free WiFi and many open tables, and thus a fab place to camp out for a day of writing. Whenever I feel like I’m truly stuck with what I’m working on, or if the store manager figures out that it was me who dumped the whole tray of Cinnamon Twirl samples into a napkin, I can move on for a change of both venue and beverage. It’s a long but non-devastating walking distance from my house; right at the border between a long walk and a short bike ride, and recently deemed “too close to drive.”

Welp, this morning’s podcast recording went on a little longer than I thought and I didn’t want to risk arriving late for my meeting. So I took an Uber out there and planned to walk back.

But! By the time I needed to go home, the atmospheric mist that had been so pleasant to look at from the dry and warm side of a Starbucks window had devolved into the aforementioned rain rain.

If my Constitutionals were still something I merely enjoyed, I would have stuck around, had dinner, and then Ubered back.

Alas, it’s now something I have to do. I walked more than three miles on Sunday and about five miles on Monday. Tuesday: nothing. Wednesday: goose egg. There are times when I need to partition my personality and use the Dad part to give the Dumb Kid part a firm, but loving, dressing down.

“Yup. It sucks that we have to walk home in the rain.”

Thank you. So: a grilled sandwich at Panera, followed by a car ride home, then?”

“Nope. We’re walking home. And it’s going to suck.”

“But…we have the phone. And the app. And we have access to well over the necessary five or six dollars necessary for the fare. I don’t understand.”

“It’s not complicated. Sure, on Tuesday, we were quite busy with podcasts and office stuff, but we could have squeezed in a couple of miles. Wednesday, we had nothing scheduled whatsoever. We even checked the weather for the rest of the week, and saw that there was rain forecast for Thursday. And yet, the only walking we did on that day was between the bedroom and the kitchen and the office.”


“So we have to walk today. If we’d walked either of those two days? Then we’d have the option of taking a pass on today due to the weather. But we didn’t, so: we’re going to walk home, after dark, in pouring rain. And we are going to do this while fully aware that it’s going to suck, because we have nobody else to blame, and even if we did, it wouldn’t change the fact that ‘I don’t wanna do this because it’ll be unpleasant’ is hardly the declaration of someone who fancies himself a mature adult and a worthy example for the youth of today.”


“I packed the folding umbrella, the headlamp, and the reflective vest. I also made sure we left the house in out waterproof hiking boots. Choose your next objection very carefully.”

And so I walked home in the rain.

He/I was right. It was important that I walk home, both to make sure I meet my Constitutionals goals for the week, and also as behavior reinforcement.

There was another dimension to the choice. Sometimes, your better nature fails you and you have to remind yourself that you shouldn’t shy away from things that are merely Deeply Unpleasant. I have now voluntarily walked four miles in the rain. It didn’t kill me. It was unpleasant…but that experience is now in the database. In the future, if I balk at taking a Constitutional in the rain, at least I can base that choice on an actual experience instead of blindly ticking the box on the cancellation form marked “it’s going to suck.” But it’s more likely that I’ll shrug and think “Well, it won’t be so bad, I guess.”

I reflect on the fact that even in dry, sunny weather, walking this distance and this route was once, in my mind, too silly to contemplate. I was always in good enough shape for a four-mile walk! But, y’see, on my way out the door I have to pass by the car in my driveway and wouldn’t that be faster and more comfortable and, generally, suck less than walking there and back?

But I sighed and forced myself to do “the thing that was going to suck” at least once. I didn’t die. If I had been killed by a truck partway along the way, I feel as though I would have been justified in not walking that route again.

With this observation in hand, I was then free to start focusing on what I liked about this Thing That Sucks: more time listening to podcasts; making all of the fitness apps on my phone happy; the free pass to not go for a walk tomorrow…and feeling slightly less guilty about having an iced scone at the bakery with the good WiFi.

Lest you think that I’m terribly committed to good health with every decision, and doing the right thing simply because I’m an adult with self-discipline: the final convincer to walk home in the rain was when Dad Self told Dumb Kid Self that we could take the seven dollars or so that we would have given to Uber and spend it instead on one of those individual fresh chicken pot pies at the market nearish my house that we really like.

It was delicious.

4 thoughts on “Got wet; didn’t die

  1. Philip Shane

    I love this and admire your determination & fortitude. It reminds me of advice I heard from General Stanley McChrystal on Tim Ferris’ podcast. He talked about the power of discomfort and how, exactly as you saw, it has so many benefits. And when you CHOOSE discomfort it’s not as bad, and gives you strength for the times when it will come upon you unbidden.

  2. David Sisson

    You and I have both evolved to a similar attitude regarding the constitutionals. One thing that I’ve found helpful is limiting my listening to audiobooks to when I’m going for a walk. Having The Martian cued up offers great incentive. By the way, thanks for plugging that book on MAC BREAK.
    I have not yet guilted myself into a walk in a heavy rain, but it’s good to know you survived. Hey, I’m 72. I’m sure hoping we both have 20+ years of good long walks.

  3. Ihnatko Post author

    Oh, that’s beautiful. One of the sketches in the new “…With Bob and David” Netflix series takes the same rational tack. Legendary downhill skiing champ is asked about his secret. “I hate skiing,” he said. “I think it’s really awful. So I really want to get it over with as quickly as possible.”

    (I feel the same way about exercise, when it’s just exercise. Which is why I try to integrate my Constitutionals into some sort of errand. That way it’s transportation and not a clumsy waste of time.)

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