Sunday, January 29, 2012

Walk Don't Run

When you are a child you are often yelled at to "Walk!" "Don't Run!" by parents, teachers and other adult, guardian figures. Do we ever listen. No! We just walk by them very cooley then book to a fall and cry, to hear the four dreaded words, "I told you so!"
When the foot surgeon removed the sutures on the bottom of my foot last week and told me that I needed to wait 2 more weeks before she would give me the okay to run again, for a split second a part of me thought, "Maybe, just maybe, if I am up to it I can jog just a little tinny bit." "Not much just a quarter or half a mile." "No biggie." "No harm." "No foul." I would come back in 2 weeks and all would still be okay. Right? Ehhh...Wrong!

I remembered the times I did not listen to my doctors' recommendations and started to run sooner than later only to, 1) prolong the amount of physical therapy I needed to recover or 2) sustain another injury which lead back to #1.

I often found myself impatient and in a rush to get back in shape so I would not miss a race because I signed up for it 2 months earlier and the fee was not refundable. Yes, looking back I see how bloody silly it was of me. I am not a professional athlete, running is not putting bread and butter on my table, what was I so worried and stressing about. There is always another race.

But, we are living in an ultra competitive society, no longer just a competitive one, where we obsess about being on the top of our game in everything we do. Encouraged to go the extra mile, give 110% effort by our family, friends, colleagues and all. For our personal satisfaction, for bragging rights, for or in the memory of a loved one and other untold reasons, we all want to be Supermen and Supergirls instead of Clark Kents and Lois Lanes.

I have made peace with being a Lois Lane. She does alright for herself. Between a horrible cold, this time of year there is always some bug or two spreading viruses on their rounds across NYC, snow and rainy days and my foot surgery, it will be almost 2 months that I go without running. If I follow the Doctor's order this time I will have just one month to train for my first half, and if I can't squeeze time to run during business trips coming up even less, perhaps only 3.

What about walking? Walking. What a novel idea. Yes, we were born to run, but hello we were born to walk too! I had forgotten how much I used to love going on long walks to get out of it what I was getting from running; a time to commune with my environment, a quiet time to reflect, clear my head, a dual body and mind workout. Sometimes alone, others in good company.

So this Saturday I enjoyed a 4-mile walk with some members of a women's running team I organize J.K.O. Running, including my daughter and it was absolutely great. By the end of the power walking and my attempts at practicing proper race walking techniques (it is really much harder than it looks), I realized that I had gotten a really good workout.

Runners often talk about cross training by swimming and cycling and doing different exercises, using elliptical devices, etc. Shins do get stronger from walking and so do your feet as you are using the whole sole (heel to toes) and not just 3/4ths of it as you do when you run or sprint (especially if you are barefoot or wearing minimalist footwear- a topic for another day).

It may take time to complete a course if you walk and don't run, and, everyone is just so damn pressed for time these days, but every once in a while it is good to slow down and take a break to smell the roses. So I am going to make a point of making time to walk once a week, even when I am told to run.

The sum of the whole is this: walk and be happy; 
walk and be healthy. 
The best way to lengthen out our days is to walk steadily and with a purpose.

- Charles Dickens

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