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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).

Focus on hip stretches

October 26, 2013 3 comments

A few years ago, I went to a physical therapist briefly. She said that knee pain can often be caused by the hip. Your whole leg is connected, so pain anywhere might actually be caused by weakness in a different joint or muscle.  Physical therapy moves are designed to be done every day to combat the imbalances that are causing pains.

I have not been the best at keeping on top of stretches and lifting, but recently I have been focusing on yoga moves to stretch the hip area, and especially the hip flexors. I do 15 minutes of yoga right after I get up. Three poses that I make sure to do are warrior I, pigeon pose and bridge pose. Sometimes I add a traditional hip flexor stretch (like a lunge with your back knee on the ground).

The particular knee that I am worried about has not shown improvement yet after about a month of almost daily yoga, but the rest of me feels better! I have more flexibility in my hips, and some minor shoulder pain has improved. People like to say that you only need to do a few minutes of exercise a day to get a benefit, and they are right. There’s a reason that line has been repeated often.