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Friday, September 18, 2009

So You Wanna Walk, eh?

Ah, yes,

Mia and Her Opinions. Like one's backside, everybody has one. Especially me.

I read a post on about a person (I think it was a woman) who wanted advice for getting ready to do the Cancer 3 Day.

Trying to find Walking advice is like trying to find an honest politician. Almost impossible.

Here is what I wrote:

First of all, you CAN do this. I'm a 55year old girl and I am here to tell you...yes, you can!

I wanted to do the 3 day for years but it's the fund raising part. I think they should pay US to walk 3 days!

Here's my take on Walking.
And, (disclosure here), I am NOT a health professional or a Health Nut!

I had been diagnosed with fibro in December 2005 and totally oinked out, feeling sorry for myself. A health crisis led me to rethink the extra weight. "This is stupid, I've never been overweight! I'm going to kill myself here!"

I started walking slowly in August 2006 and really began in January 2007. I had set as a goal for myself --- a 10K race (May 2007 Cleveland Marathon). I was 50 pounds overweight. I conned my brother into doing it with me. I figured if I crashed, he'd be there to help me! I started walking around our block (1/2 mile) then kept going. I did that race (as a walker) in a really respectable time too. By race time, I had lost 40 pounds. (I've since lost 60).

What worked for me was "hard" days then off days. I think you have to get out there EVERY DAY, even if it's for a half an hour stroll. On the hard days, I pushed hard or went for distance. You'll know if it's hard -- you can't talk. I also was encouraged to cross-train by biking and yeah, they (my brother and husband, the b*****ds --- my add-ons here) are right about that. So I have Walking Days and Biking days. When i was starting (or when I have to restart), I add a mile every week.

So you start with say, one mile every other day, then next week, 2 miles and so on. In 3 months, you are basically doing a half-marathon! I do that big distance once a week; the rest I do between 3 and 8 miles every other day. If you are ONLY walking and not cross-training, on your "off" days, you'll do half of your "on" day distance and walk it easy. You get one day off for rest but I don't really recommend even that. You have to move, even a bit.

Remember to breath!! I like breathing in through my nose where I can feel my nostrils flaring and out through my mouth.

Don't forget to do your leg stretches afterwards, especially on your Hard days!!

Make sure you're getting enough potassium and magnesium; this keeps you from getting leg cramps. If I have a small glass of real orange juice with a bit of wate in the morning, it really helps. So do bananas (which is why they have them for you after races!)

I also think yoga and/or Pilates or Core Training is very helpful. It helps with your breathing and core strength, which actually improved my times!

If you are a female over 40, you really have to get out there at least 5 days week, where you are pushing more. I know, it isn't fair but I have noticed when I slack off, I feel worse and I start that tubby thing around my middle and my fibro will act up.

I also highly recommend keeping a daily food and exercise journal. I use a piece of paper that i keep in my kitchen. It has date, time, what I ate (even snacks) and what exerciese I did. And yes, I track (with a pedometer) hard housework! (Up and down stairs). I did watch what I ate by eating smaller meals, eating slower and more often. I cut back severely on simple carbs and upped my protein.

You do have to listen to your body, but don't let it say, "I caaaan't do that! Waaah!" So much of this is truly mental. I sometimes chant to myself (like The Little Engine That Could): "I know I can! I know I can!"I have days when I do not want to go out but I know if I do, I'll feel better in my soul. My body may curse me but I actually feel better there too!

Pedometers can be helpful but for "real" distance, drive it in a car and get exact distances. A pedometer is accurate to within 2/10-4/10s of a mile. Don't try to set your stride on the silly things; it's a waste of your time. Figure out several courses and go!

I would also suggest that you get your feet checked by a foot doc to make sure you don't have some weirdness with your feet. Good shoes, fitted correctly are a must and learning how to tape your own toes/feet is really helpful. Do NOT get "walking" shoes, believe it or not. The support is not there for distance walking. And go to a store that caters to runners; not one of the big chains. They do not have the expertise to fit you correctly. If you walk daily a lot, replace your shoes every 6 months or buy two pairs that work and rotate them every other day. Definitely pitch them after a year. Mine go after 6 months. I use them for biking but they still go for after a year.

I truly hate treadmills but will go on them if necessary. However, if you do do a treadmill, do not read on it --- you are not working --- trust me. I like roadwork and hiking, although I do take it easier on a hike as I am more conscious of my footing. I do recommend that you do outside walking or even on a track. I walk in the winter as long as the roads are clear (I live in a city). If you are walking briskly, you don't need to dress up like Nanook of the North.

Make sure you can sweat, especially getting air on your upper chest. For some reason, that's where I over-heat! If you stop sweating, you need ot be hydrated immediately! I can't stress the hydration thing enough. I've had it happen once and it was awful. If you live in a really hot area (like AZ) go at night when it's cool.

I also strongly recommend getting a Road ID; they have a website. That way, you have ID on you. Also make sure you carry water or Gatorade if you are going out more than say a mile or if it's hot or dry where you live. You have to stay hydrated. It's a pain, I know. They make little hand-held bottles that strap onto your hand and those are spiffy!

Wear reflective gear; think like a cyclist.

Blisters: When you feel one coming on, soak your feet for 30-60 minutes with Epsom salts and put really good moisturizer or conditioning oil on your feet, Rub it in and put cotton sox on for the night. Repeat daily and you should be able to walk again (if they are bad) in a day. Start gently.

I also (as has been mentioned) listen to music. I find it very motivating and you can get into a rhythm easier, IMO. Keep the volume pretty low so you can hear cars. I love my Clip; it's small!

I set a goal to do a half-marathon as a walker and did the Cleveland 2008 Half and the Octocber 2008 Towpath Half. I just kept going and felt so exilherated when I (barely) crossed the finish line the first time. This year (2009), I've done 5Ks, 10Ks, a 10 mile benefit hike with my dog (not walker friendly, BTW), and the Cleveland Half....all as a Walker.

If you plan to enter a race and I truly encourage you to do so, pick ones that are Walker friendly, especially the big distances (10Ks, Halfs and Fulls). Many SAY Walk/Run but they aren't really. There is still a lot of prejudice and snobbery regarding Walking and I've had runners during races yell at me to get out of the way.

Talk to a race official if you can on the phone. Find out what the time limit is! Longer races that I know of that are really Walking friendly are: Cleveland, Columbus (OH), Dallas White Rock, that one in Alaska (Midnight Sun, I think) and the Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The Mouse (Disney) is supposed to be really nice as well.

Professional Walkers and really active Marathon Walkers says that Columbus Ohio is THE BEST first marathon to be in. To get a medal for finishing is so cool! I felt like an Olympian!
Do a local 1 mile, 3K or 5K. There are tons all year round and you can find them on this website. You will feel such a sense of accomplishment! I know of Marathon Walkers who are over 65 and some that are disabled AND over 65 who still compete. So, yes, this is doable.

As for the 3 Day
Take Your Time. It is, by all accounts, very, very well-supported and you can take all day to do that 20 miles. I know of people who have not walked beyond a few miles who have done it and survived!

Good luck! Keep us posted. Walkers Rock!
(who WILL do a marathon!)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mima,

    I'm enjoying your blog--see you tomorrow!