Over the past month of our walking series, we’ve cultivated awe, encouraged conversation, stepped up our workouts and looked for microadventures. I want to end on a more lighthearted note. David Sedaris, an avid walker, humorist and author of 13 books, including “Me Talk Pretty One Day” and “Happy-Go-Lucky,” is the perfect person to help me.
Sedaris, who splits his time between New York City and Sussex, England, has been walking every day since 2014, when he started tracking his steps with a Fitbit. He has walked in cities all over the world, including Tokyo and Reykjavik. He even had a garbage truck named after him in England, where he combines walking and picking up trash.
We chatted about his walking schedule and the lengths he’ll go to in order to maintain his daily goal of 21,000 steps (at least).
Conversation has been edited for clarity and length.
What are your walking plans for today?
I will walk from, I don’t know, 3 o’clock until 7 o’clock. I mean, I need to walk a minimum of 10 miles.
Every single day?
Yeah. I have calves like upside down bowling pins, and a lot of people think they’re implants.
What happens if you don’t walk? Do you not feel like yourself?
I have an Apple Watch, and you have to fill in three circles on it. But it’ll write me and say, “You’ve filled in all your circles for 1,800 days.” So I can’t break that.
It would be much more, but years ago, I flew from Los Angeles to Sydney, and I crossed the international date line, and I lost the day. It wasn’t my fault, but I lost my perfect record on my Apple Watch. So I had to start over.
I was on a plane in Australia in January, and I thought I was going to have five hours at my hotel, but it was just a fiasco with the flight. So I wound up running in place in my airplane seat for an hour and a half, maybe.
Like, soft footfalls? I’m not picturing it clearly.
My feet were on the ground, but I moved my arms like I was running.
You didn’t know your seatmate?
No. I mean, I would have hated to sit next to me. But you get the steps that way if you have to. I figure you deserve the points for humiliating yourself.
And I think you get points for ingenuity. Like one night, my flight was canceled. I get into a car for nine hours, I got to the town for my show, and I had to go straight to the theater and straight to the stage. And I wasn’t close to my watch goal.
So this young woman came to get a book signed and I said, “What are you going to do now?” So she said, “Now? I’m not doing anything.” And I took my watch off. I put it on her wrist. I gave her $20 and I said, “I’m going to need you to walk for two miles.”
Why did you transition from a Fitbit to an Apple Watch?
I had a friend who wanted to be Fitbit friends. Fitbit friends, I always just destroy them. But she destroyed me. If I walked 24 miles in a day, she would walk 24 and a quarter, because she lived in an earlier time zone. It just drove me out of my mind.
And Hugh, my boyfriend, said, “Just unfriend her.” And I said, “I can’t. That just doesn’t look right.” So instead, I just threw my Fitbit away.
What’s the longest walk you’ve taken? I read that it was 22 miles.
No, it was 91,000 steps. Forty-one miles. I can do 22 in my sleep.
Does Hugh often walk with you?
No, he never goes with me. It’s like, anything I do, I have to overdo, and ruin, you know? So he just doesn’t want to be a part of that.
For anybody who’s got an obsessive-compulsive nature, a Fitbit or an Apple Watch will do the job. Like, the idea that I have 1,680 days of a perfect record, I’m never going to break that for anything.
What could make you break that?
If I were to be crossing the street and I looked up and I saw a car speeding toward me, my first thought would be “my watch.”
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