A Fitness Snob…Walks!

To all who are kind enough to follow our blog: We regret we have been out of touch so

Go "Molly's Army!"

Go “Molly’s Army!”

long! We are preparing to walk in the Susan G. Komen 3 Day walk in the Twin Cities. Here are some of my thoughts; Chad will be posting soon.

I am an athlete. It has taken me a while to say that. First, because I’m slow (and athletes are supposed to be fast, right?). Second, I am definitely an amateur. No one sponsors me, and aside from one travel mug, I have never ‘won’ anything, neither fame nor fortune. Third, the events and activities I do I do for me; for my health and wellness and for fun. I have been realistic about my ametuer athlete status and have not taken myself too seriously, always looking at the bright side. How can you not have that attitude when you consistently finish in the 33%-tile?

That’s why I was so surprised at myself when the opportunity to walk a Susan G. Komen 3 Day event came up, and I, casual, fun-loving amateur athlete that I am, thought to myself, “Aren’t I too good for that?” “After all the progress I’ve made towards bigger and longer activities, wouldn’t this be beneath me, a step back?” [Please note: I am embarrassed and ashamed of these thoughts and am a bit mortified to admit to them.] Yes, I could have refused, but how much more would I hate myself if I had?! So after a millisecond of thought, I agreed to walk with Chad this year. I did this basically for two reasons: 1. Cancer research is one of the most important causes to me and my family, and 2. Part of my casual athlete code is that I try different events and activities. So after I got out of my own, conceited damn way, I realized it was a wonderful opportunity to fight against the ravages of cancer, and to test myself (and in more ways than one, as it turns out.)

[Another note: Cancer research for cures and treatments is the predominant reason for this event, and raising money to help those we love is why we are doing this. You only have to read our other posts and blogs to realize that. Having said that, I am about to focus on the walking and training experience only. Please don’t think the fight against cancer is not constantly on my mind. The perspective I am hoping to give here are just my own; what a fitness snob has gone through alongside all of my other experiences with the 3 Day. Again, I apologize for how snobbish some of this is about to sound.]

In order to walk 60 miles; basically all day for three days in a row, you’ve got to train for all those hours. That takes time. The training schedule basically consists of walking both weekend days, plus two other days of walking, two cross-training days and one rest day. That means less kayaking, running, biking, and more time walking…and walking…and walking. I knew that in committing to this I would be sacrificing other events, just trying to sneak them in when I can. So after months on sidewalks and trails, we are 3 weeks away from finishing our 24 week training schedule and getting to the main event. We have had to juggle the schedule around a bit to fit in holidays, vacations and other summer obligations, but we have tried to stay on course as much as possible. After finishing what will probably be our biggest weekend of walking, we start to taper slightly (though the mileage on the weekend before the event is still 18 miles!) Spending hours walking over the last months, I’ve time to think about my attitude entering this experience. I was curious at the beginning about how my training would go and what would happen to my fitness, and I have come to realizations on several different topics:

“Casual Activity:” There is more and more evidence that panting on the treadmill for 30-60 minutes before going back to your desk job or spending the rest of the weekend on the couch is not the answer. We are seeing that sitting less and moving more is better for health and longevity, and I can say for certain that the weekends I was training for races, even half marathons, involved less activity than the weekends I spent walking.

(Here’s an interesting article for you couch potatoes and marathon runners alike:http://www.runnersworld.com/health/sitting-is-the-new-smoking-even-for-runners)

Injury: While I have been fortunate enough to be basically injury-free throughout my life, I am getting more aches and pains as each race season comes and goes. In past years, I have had issues with runner’s knee and plantar fasciitis, and the reduction in running days has made these almost disappear, while still staying fit. Plus, I am (so far) spending a season not adding any new injuries, which is a bonus!

Weight: Because a healthy weight is associated with a longer life, I of course want to stay at one, and I wasn’t sure how this switch would affect my weight. However, I found that I have easily been able to stay at the same weight as when I started this training schedule. (I have confidence that if I was really wanting to lose, I could accomplish this, as I haven’t spent too much time restricting my diet or increasing the intensity of my other workouts.) There is also the fact that my muscle mass has increased, which isn’t addressed when you stand on the scale. (see below)

Strength: I often push myself on runs and leave any weights for last, and then I am too tired to really get something out of them. Admittedly, this is my own fault. However, with walking, I am able to come back not completely spent, allowing me to work on strength, which is also important for several areas of health. Plus, its pretty cool to be able to do more push-ups than I ever could before!

Enjoyment: Walking can be a bit boring, and one of the things I was dreading was walking laps around our small town for hours! However, with a bit of planning, we were able to get some added value out of our longer walks. We hiked some miles of Glacial Drumlin and The Ice Age Trails we had never been on before. We even walked around Lake Monona, which is something we do on our bikes in an hour, but because this took over four, we were able to see some things close up that we miss at 13 mph. On an even more personal note, Chad and I were able to spend many of those hours together without too much distractions, which was nice after a winter of long commutes, long work hours, and phones and technology always buzzing in the background.

Ego: As we live in the same town as Trek bicycles world headquarters, we see some pretty serious bikers, as well as the usual casual runners, walkers and bikers. I do admit that as someone would pass me as I was on a training walk, I felt embarrassed. I had urges to break into a run in order to show them that “I can run, really, I’m just CHOOSING to walk.”  In my defense, I honestly DON’T judge other walkers/runners that I see. I remember having to walk as I was building up to running, and I am always glad to see people out and being active. So the fact I had such an ego (even as slow as I run!) was a very interesting revelation.

In the end, I have found this training experience fascinating. I have seen the theories about walking and cross-training and “sedentary athletes” first hand–even things I thought I already knew were shown to me in a new way. I learned that moving forward can be done by taking a “step back.” I learned that no experience or activity is beneath me. I hope I never forget these lessons, and I hope that if a similar situation crosses your path, you’ll ignore any condescending snobbery yammering in your head, and just say “Yes!” (Or for all you secret snobs out there, you could help us in our fight by donating to www.the3day.org. This link will take you to our team page, Molly’s Army, and you can donate to any one of our 4 team members. Thanks from the bottom of our hearts for helping us in this fight.)

As a bonus for my data-geek friends, here’s a little comparison (Calories are estimated using my data from myfitness.pal):

Biggest weekend of walking: We did need to split Saturdays miles due to scheduling conflicts.

Distance

TIME

Estimated Calories

Friday

6

1 hour 43 min

387

Saturday

10

2 hours 50 min

464

Sunday

18

5 hours 12 min

1171

TOTALS

34 miles

9 hours 45 min

2022

Biggest weekend of half marathon training:

Distance

TIME

Estimated Calories

Friday

0

Rest

0

Saturday

12

2 hours 18 min

1227

Sunday

Cross training

45 min

356 (a brisk bike ride)

TOTALS

12 (+ cross-training)

3 hours 3 min

1583

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