It is not odd that Loren Spice walks to school every day — many students and professors do. What is unique is the length of his daily walk.
Spice, an assistant professor of mathematics, said he walks from his apartment, located near Highway 20 and Hulen Street, to the university. The distance between the two points is about 3.5 miles, meaning Spice walks a total of seven miles a day. The walk to campus takes about 45 minutes one-way, he said.
Each school week, Spice walks about 35 miles, which is approximately the same distance as a trip from the university to Cowboys Stadium and back.
Spice said he chose his walking route based on the criteria of staying off major roads. He said he sticks with roads that have an area on the shoulder of the road as much as possible. He tried several different routes before he settled on the one he currently uses, he said.
Rain, snow or shine he walks to school, Spice said. Because he does not have a car with him in Fort Worth, his options are limited.
Spice eliminated the public bus option because he can actually walk to the university faster, he said. Biking, he said, would be more difficult because of the lack of sidewalks and the number of times he would have to hop the curb to ride on the grass.
During his time working at the university, Spice said he has been caught in some torrential rain storms. To deal with the problem, he has a system of plastic bags that he uses to cover his valuables, such as his computer and even homework, so they stay dry.
“I have had the embarrassing situation of having to hand homework back to students and say, ‘Sorry this is dripping, sorry this is dripping,'” Spice said.
In 2001, Spice said he broke his leg when he was hit by a car while walking. After that, walking had more meaning to him, he said.
“It got me interested in walking as sort of an intentional action,” Spice said. “…Now I was planning ahead. ‘How can I walk [there]? What distances [of walking] can I handle?'”
When Spice and his wife moved to Fort Worth from the North, the ability for Spice to walk to school was not something they considered much when looking for apartments, he said. After they picked the apartment and settled down, Spice said he began to think about walking to school.
However, he was unsure because the distance was farther than anything he had walked before on a regular basis.
“Once we settled on this place, I remember having this discussion with [my wife],” Spice said. “‘Am I going to give it up? I can’t give up walking. It is the only exercise I have. And if I stop, I’m going to go right back and gain weight again…'”
Spice first tried the walk during the summer, but said the heat was a problem.
“Once I learned to bring a change of clothes and that you can shower over at the gym, it stopped being an issue that I was stinky and smelly when I got there,” Spice said. “I found that I enjoyed the walk.”
However, even though Spice said he enjoys the walk, it is not always easy. Spice said he believed Fort Worth should be more pedestrian friendly.
“When I say it is not pedestrian friendly, I mean literally that,” Spice said. “That it is hard to walk. That it takes advance planning. If I have a new destination, I can’t just say ‘Well I am going to walk there.’ I have to know. If I can get there by driving, it does not imply I can get there by walking.”
Spice said he believed one solution to the problem would be more sidewalks.
“I find it almost comical how few sidewalks there are here,” Spice said.
Gloria Solomon, a professor of sports psychology, said there are both good short– and long-term effects to exercise like walking.
“Even if it is leisurely walking, the exercise process, both physically and psychologically, has the capacity to uplift your mood,” Solomon said.
The more chronic the exercise, the more long-term the effects, Solomon said.
“So this gentleman, if he is [exercising] regularly, is certainly going to benefit from those long-term effects, which include, among other things, self-concept enhancing, so feeling better about yourself,” Solomon said. “We know that people who exercise and get those concept enhancements actually will approach more diverse situations.”
Solomon said the idea of exercising too much, even walking, does exist. However, she said, it is about the individual’s mentality, not the number of miles walked.
“You can do too much exercise, and it all really comes down to your psychological attachment to the exercising experience,” Solomon said. “Most exercise is a good addiction, though.”
View Loren Spice’s Route to School in a larger map