Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Pause for Thought

"It's been a long road, gettin' from there to here...." 

...and what did I learn along the way?
 This book:
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was a turning point for me many years ago. It is wise, funny and hits you hard right where it counts, especially if you are a "certain age", which I proudly am.
So what have I learned so far?

1. Have goals
                 I know that I work best with something tangible I am working towards. For me, it's half marathons and hiking/trekking trips.

2. Make it a Habit or your New Job
                 I have enough bad habits; this is a good one. Making exercise and eating properly a part of your life, especially after retirement, takes "willpower" out of the equation (which is good, because I don't have much of that commodity). To paraphrase "Younger Next Year", make it your new job; show up ready to go; apply your work ethic to training.

3. Community is good
I prefer to race and train alone, except for my husband Mike, but it's also good to have the support of other like-minded people.  I found that community in the Walking Site message board (http://www.thewalkingsite.com/).  A great, supportive bunch of people who have (for the most part) never actually met each other in the flesh. They're kind of my "walking family".  Check them out!

4. Track Your Progress
          I've never been much of a journal-er; in fact, I find it kind of artificial to write something each day even if nothing happened. However, a training journal is a different matter, and helps immensely when preparing for an event as well as makes you accountable to yourself. It also gives me a kick to see how far I've come!

On June 14th, 2008, the year I turned 51, I wrote in my journal, "Did a high level walk for one hour. Walk was great - felt very invigorated. Got the nutso idea to do a half marathon in October."
And I did it, too, that October 19th. It was my first - the Detroit Free Press half marathon, and I walked the whole thing. I hurt for a few days afterwards as I didn't know anything about technique.  I didn't realize it yet, but I was hooked.

5. When Necessary, Seek Help
          Women are better at this one - sorry, guys, but it's true. There are no racewalking coaches anywhere near me, so I rely on the expert advice of a remote coach - Carmen Jackinsky. She also turned me on to getting a muscle weakness/imbalance assessment done by a Sports Physiotherapist, which has been very enlightening. I now have the tools to correct some of the physical problems impeding my progress, which is very empowering.

So here's what I am walking away with at this point: I just turned 55 last week and I feel better than I did in my 30s. I know many of my capabilities and limitations. I have done four half marathons and have two planned for this year as well as two 10km races as training walks. I started taking Iaido, a martial art the year I turned 54 having never done any martial arts before (so it really is never too late).
To be continued, I hope, for a long, long time!

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