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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).

Driving causes me pain

September 30, 2013 Leave a comment

I think sitting and driving can cause as many pains as exercise itself. This past year I have had shoulder, chest, back and hip pain that I can only associate with driving a significant amount and sitting more than I used to. How is this pain different than that associated with exercise? Well it seemed to be relieved by exercise!

My non-exercise induced pains led me to ponder¬†how people’s perception of pain may influence their decisions to exercise. I think that people’s perception of pain from exercise being too much to bear could deter them from exercise. I know I have days when I think running will be really hard because of muscle soreness. Yet I also have the experience to know that soreness can be relieved by exercise. Even with my experience, finding motivation to run despite the soreness can be hard.

I have been an exerciser pretty much all of my memorable life; I do not find muscle soreness foreign or distressing. I would like to encourage other people to try exercising despite muscle soreness (but do not run or exercise over acute pain!) and see if you don’t feel a ton better than you expected. I want to assure you that the pain is almost never as bad as you think!

And with that, I think I need to go for a run myself. I am still in the weeds in terms of running enough miles for my November marathon.