It was the first time I had run in three years. Literally.
I signed up to run the first leg of the Baltimore Marathon as part of a four person relay team. I did not train for the race by running. Instead, my training involved A LOT of walking.
That was one of the reasons I agreed to run almost six miles on a chilly October morning. I wanted to test my fitness level. I also wanted to be a part of something my wife, Ava, loves. She is a runner and was getting ready for another marathon about a month later. She was using the Baltimore Marathon Relay as a training run.
I used to be a runner. For about five years I ran several races a year. I have a nice collection of medals and memories from those events. When you run a 5k, half-marathon, or marathon it feels like you’re part of a community that is doing something hard.
And, you are.
On any given day the percentage of people on the planet who RUN just one mile is teeny tiny. But the percentage of people on the planet who WALK a mile is HUGE.
And, that’s probably why walking does not feel like a fitness activity. Everybody does it so it doesn’t feel special. And, don’t most of us want fitness to feel a little exclusive?
Walking may not feel like fitness, but it is. The Centers For Disease Control recommends you and I get between 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity a week. A brisk 30 minute walk every day would put you at 210 minutes…well above the recommended minimum.
But, most of us probably believe fitness should at least feel hard. And, walking doesn’t feel hard.
If that’s true, why do we drive around the Walmart parking lot searching for the CLOSEST parking space? Why do we communicate with co-workers in the same building by email instead of walking to their office one floor below? And, if walking doesn’t feel hard, WHY did all those runners take the shuttle?
If you signed up to run in the Baltimore Running Festival you had to pick up your race packet a couple days before the event at the Baltimore Convention Center. Free parking was available less than a mile away with shuttle buses between the two locations.
Ava and I went to the packet pick up together and walked to the Convention Center. The weather was nice, it was a safe area, and the shuttle actually took longer than the walk.
If walking is so much easier than running why were those buses full? These were people who would be running anywhere between three and 26 miles in a couple days. Why did feel the need to avoid a walk of less than one mile?
On that day walking felt very exclusive!
So, how did all my walking prepare me for a run of 5.7 miles? I was actually a little nervous. Most of my relay leg was uphill. I’m old enough to know that doing stupid stuff, like running almost six miles uphill with no race training, can have not so great consequences.
For almost seven years my foundational fitness activity has been walking. For most of this time I’ve averaged above 15,000 steps a day and for more than a year I’ve hit at least 20,000 every day. I also do some strength training and a high intensity workout several mornings a week that’s similar to jumping rope.
Did all of that add up to enough fitness to run 5.7 miles uphill? I had two goals that morning. Don’t die and, assuming that goal is met, don’t stop until I finished my part of the relay.
I accomplished both and got another medal.
I don’t walk for fitness so I can run the occasional race. I walk for fitness because it works. It’s also sustainable.
I wonder how many of those 21,000 people who ran a race through Baltimore on that chilly October morning were still running a week later, or even a month later? How many will still be running a year from now.
I was a runner for five years, but gradually lost interest. Part of that was the nagging injuries. I’ve been walking for fitness the past seven years. No injuries and I love it even more now than when I started.
After I completed my 5.7 miles I walked another 13 miles around Baltimore waiting for the rest of my team to finish the race. Then we walked to a nearby restaurant for an early dinner. The “extra” walking was the best part of my day and probably did more for my fitness than the running.
If you want to Win at Fitness in 2020 the best activity available is hiding in plain sight. Walking is sustainable, effective, and FUN.
TAKE THE CHALLENGE
If you want to improve your fitness in 2020 I want to encourage you to take the 30 Day Fitness Challenge. You’ll set a small step goal to reach every day for 30 days.
As you reach your daily goal you’ll create a fitness habit and with those daily wins you’ll begin to build your own fitness momentum. That momentum eventually leads to fitness transformation.
To take The 30 Day Fitness Challenge I recommend three things:
To optimize The 30 Day Fitness Challenge you’ll need a step tracker. I recommend the Fitbit Inspire HR. While it’s not cheap, it’s less than a few months at the gym. The Inspire HR also tracks your heart rate and sleep so you get an even wider picture of your fitness progress.
(By the way…if you use the link above to but a Fitbit Inspire HR this blog will receive a small commission. It won’t add anything to what you pay, but letting you know is the right thing to do)
Of course, you could walk and get the same fitness benefits without a step tracker. But, with a Fitbit you start seeing fitness as an all-day thing and not simply those 30 minutes when you’re “taking a walk.” It was a complete game changer when I got my first Fitbit.
30 DAY CHALLENGE GUIDE
Download this free guide to the 30 Day Fitness Challenge to begin your journey. It includes a worksheet to help you set your daily step goal, a contract to make with yourself (I know that sounds cheesy, but it really works), and a 30 Day Challenge Win Tracker to track your daily wins.
It’s probably no surprise to learn that most people who set a fitness goal don’t finish. The first 30 days are the most critical!
FOLLOW THIS BLOG
This blog is designed to help readers embrace walking as fitness activity. It’s sustainable, flexible, effective, and fun. Every week I post new articles with stories and helpful suggestions to Win at Fitness.
During January, there’s a new article every day to help you rock the 30 Day Fitness Challenge. If you click FOLLOW (below on your phone…to the right and above on your computer) you’ll receive an email with a link to each new blog post.
Let’s make 2020 the year fitness finally sticks!