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Walking as valuable exercise

December 30, 2013 Leave a comment

There are a lot of articles that speak to the value of walking as exercise. I never disbelieved them, but I never would have spoken to a friend about walking as an important part of my exercise routine. I think my experience this summer has changed my mind.

Prior to July 2012, I walked or biked round trip 3 miles every work day. I recorded this in my exercise journals, but didn’t think much about it from a race training perspective except that I was happy that I was doing “more” than might be required. From July 2012 to June 2013, my walking miles per week declined but did not disappear entirely. June 2013 to now? I am embarrassed to say almost no walking.

In early August, I was fed up with how out of shape I still felt. I decided to ramp up for a week to combat the out-of-shape feeling. Over the course of 6 days I did two lifting sessions, played Ultimate, ran for multiple hours, and biked a few hours. On both day 7 and day 8 I had Ultimate games. On day 7, I felt tired but happy that I  had been putting in the effort. I was hopeful that I would overcome my out-of-shape hump and emerge triumphant and back-in-shape. I took extra time to warm up and stretch, but in the final 10 mins of the game I pulled my hamstring area. Oy! I was out of the Ultimate business for the last (and most important) games of the season.

I now see that I was over-training. In the middle of that week, I kind-of knew I was over-training, but I let my frustration at taking only small incremental steps in my fitness get in the way of reality.

Looking back at my year, I think the drop in walking miles was intimately connected with being so out of shape. And when I wanted to get fit fast, I should’ve added a lot of walking back in to get the fitness benefit without all the impacts.

So if you find yourself in my position, frustrated at lack of fitness and having only incremental steps of positive change, please take my advice and use walking to supplement the harder workouts. Fitness is not gained only in the high impact sessions; it can be maintained by walking an easy 3 miles a day (and yes, 3 miles of walking is easy in exercise terms, but it’s much harder in terms of having time).

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Re-cap of the Philadelphia Half Martahon and Other Musings

December 8, 2013 Leave a comment

I finished the Philadelphia Half Marathon in 2:35. I was amazed at how easy it was to finish the race despite my terrible training record this fall. Obviously a big part about running a race easily is the pace; I was setting an easy pace on purpose. But still, the ability to go 13.1 miles was really satisfying.

One thing about races is that they automatically make you focus on your running, and a lack of focus was my big problem this fall. It was reassuring to read in the New York Times this October that when you study hard, exercise feels harder. October was the most stressful time for me this fall, full of intense work on presentations and intense studying for my qualifying exam. No wonder I felt terrible every time I went out for a run!

Another thing about races is that there are so many people who show up with essentially no running history. So compared to them, you realize that your training could’ve been much much worse.

It’s just nice to have another race under the belt. And I love the mentality of running races in general. It’s meditative.

From this point forward I hope to be able to prioritize running and exercise. I want to go back to the gym; my muscles miss lifting! This year, multiple circumstances altered my typical race schedule (i.e. the Caesar Rodney Half, the Broad Street Run, and the Niagara Ultra). I am definitely planning to up the number of races I do in the spring/early summer. I may not make the Niagara Ultra or the Broad Street, but I am super excited to be able to run the Caesar Rodney Half again. The hills in that race are amazing!