Welcome to day one of our challenge to walk a marathon. Here is the link to the post on Friday, showing you why it is important to get fitter for the health of your internal organs instead of getting into a bikini this summer (or speedos for you guys).
The aim is quite simple. To get fit and to lose weight if needed.
The reason that I chose the marathon as a measurement, is that it is a recognised gold standard for many athletes. Whilst they may complete their marathons in under three hours, with a record of 2hours 2 minutes, that is not our intention. Well not for the first marathon anyway.
I have just completed my first marathon in 10 hours spread over 14 days with most of it within the last 6 days as I began to regain my fitness. I am starting my second marathon tomorrow and I hope to knock 30 minutes off my time and bring it in over 12 days. I will then start again until I reach my target time of 6.5 hours over 7 days. At that point…not only should I be much fitter internally but weigh less and be more toned.
Walking a marathon is a challenge and so we are going to start off by making sure that our bodies are prepared as much as possible, and that it is supported with the correct clothing, fuel and fluids. Safety is also of a primary importance as are motivating tools to keep us going for 26 miles. (even if it is in small segments to begin with)
The other reason that I have chosen the marathon for the purposes of this challenge, is that it is not a sprint but a long distance race. For those of you who are not currently execising regularly, it is important to begin at a pace that is comfortable and healthy. As you get fitter you can move through the various stages completing the marathon in less time.
Stage 1 competitors – For those of you who are just starting out with exercise after a long period of inactivity.
Do you think you could walk half a mile (0.8kilometres) every other day for the next 16 days which is 8 days of walking – and then a mile every other day for the following 44 days which is 22 days of walking?
This means you would complete your first marathon in 30 walking days in two months.
Stage 2. For those of you who are moderately fit and already walk three times a week for 30 minutes.
Do you think that at your level of fitness today you could walk 1 mile a day for 5 days.. have a rest day and then repeat until you have walked 26 miles?
This means that you will complete your first marathon in 26 walking days in one month.
Stage 3. For those of you who already walk a mile a day briskly five days a week.
Do you think you can walk 1.5 miles a day for 5 days – have a rest day and then repeat until you have walked 26 miles?
This means you will complete your marathon in 18 walking days.
Other stages. If you are already walking 45 minutes briskly 6 days a week (always good to have a rest day) then set your own pace but don’t over to it. Also those of you who walk 5k and 10k charity walks can make your own plan
If you are unable to walk for any reason, there are a number of videos that guide you through a cardio workout from your chair and this is a good place to start too for anyone who just beginning to exercise for the first time.
Having decided which of the stages you are going to complete for your first marathon, you need to plan your safe route, wear the right shoes and clothes, take items in case of an emergency, listen to music or an audio book, find a buddy, measure and record your progress.
When we moved to Texas in the 1980s nobody seemed to walk for exercise outside of the gym and there were very few pavements around our complex. I use to drive to Greenspoint Mall, park the car up and walk three times around the outside and then go back the complex for a half an hour’s swim.
- My point being that you need to walk on a pavement or firm path that does not intersect with many other roads that are likely to hold you up. You might have a block that you can circuit, or a park nearby that you can walk around.
- Do not walk in isolated places at night and do not use iPods either at night in unlit areas or heavy traffic. Always be aware of your surroundings.
- Measure the distance either in the car or on google maps. As you become fitter you might look to include some of your daily routine as an opportunity to get the miles in.Could you walk to work, walk the children to school or to the shops? Use every opportunity to get your scheduled walks in.
- If like me you use a treadmill it is easier to measure time and distance so you may find that joining your local gym for three months initially will get you access to a machine and a regular schedule.
- For me weather has been the key element now we are back in Ireland. Although I am not stranger to walking in the rain I find it demotivating. Find somewhere inside that you can use as an alternative – the local shopping centre for example or an indoor athletics track that is for public use.
- If you are able to use safely, I suggest that you load up your player (ipod- smart phone etc) with music you enjoy that is fairly beat driven. Or like my husband you can load up on audio books.
- Before you head out for your walk, especially when you have picked up speed I do suggest that you do some stretches. Waldo County YMCA Fitness Director, Tamera Blades, shows how to warm up before and stretch after walking.
- Make sure you are wearing comfortable and supportive footwear – middle-aged trainers are the best as they are worn in but not too soggy to provide support for your arches and your ankles.
- Wear socks that let your feet breathe and wash your feet afterwards in warm salty water and moisturise.
- Do not wear tight clothing that is going to chafe – it can cause skin irritation that leads to infections. This is why exercise pants have elasticated waistbands.
- It is better to wear layers that you can remove during your walk, and I usually have a lightweight jersey jacket over a t-shirt or a tank top when I walk outside. You can tie the arms of the jacket around your waist.
- Take a phone with you, tissues and a couple of plasters and a £5 note or 10 dollars. (emergency calls, runny nose, blister and a taxi if you need it)
- Get used to carrying water with you in a small bottle and you can buy them with a handle.
- When you return keep a diary or electronic record of the distance and time taken.
- Put your walking schedule for the next week into your diary or electronic calendar and stick to it unless it is totally unavoidable. This is your health and fitness and this is serious business that needs to be treated in a committed fashion.
- TAKE A REST DAY – you will find that your body will react better to having a regular rest day than exercising every day.
- Get your sleep especially if you are upping your exercise considerably you will find your body will be tired.
- I got David to take a photo before I began my first marathon challenge and I wore my workout gear and stood against the blank wall in the hall. He will take another next week and then every two weeks after than in the same place. For me it is more effective that getting on and off the scales and I can clearly see the difference in my shape. You might think about doing that too.
- Or you can weigh yourself before you start the challenge and then weekly after that. Also measure your chest, waist, upper thigh and hip measurements and do that every two weeks and mark the changes. I have bought a pair of cargo trousers that I want to wear to the #bloggersbash and I will keep trying them weekly until they fit me better!
If that sounds like a lot of planning for a twenty minute walk then consider it in another way. Looking the part is a key element of the preparation. If you look like you should be walking a marathon, then you will be more inclined to follow through. If you head out in a t-shirt and shorts with flip flops and think that you will stroll to the end of the road and back then you will not get that marathon done.
Finding a walking buddy.
Or buddies. Many of my clients have teamed up with one or more friends to complete their weekly exercise programme and it is very effective. Three is better than two in case one has to drop out for some reason. If you are dog walkers that is another good way to get the marathon done provided you have measured your usual walks and you are not stopping every few minutes because your dog wants to check his Pmail! Sam and I would do 45 minutes on the beach at Bettystown every morning with him off the lead and that was fairly brisk. We then did a kilometre each night down the lane equally briskly – especially if it was wet! I was walking three miles a day.
What time to walk.
That is down to you and your schedule. I do recommend that if you are going to walk first thing, especially in the summer, that you do rehydrate after your night of sleep and then wait 15 minutes. I exercise before I eat in the mornings and that does mean that my body is not trying to digest food while you exercise as this can result in stomach cramps and sometimes the requirement for a pit stop somewhere! Wait at least an hour after a light meal and two hours after a main meal before doing any moderate to heavy exercise.
Fuel needed to complete the marathon and to get fit internally.
There are two types of fuel needed to get the most out of your marathon. The aim of this challenge is to become fitter internally, but also to lose weight if needed, and certainly tone up muscles that might have become flaccid.
I will be looking at the nutritional side of this aim on Thursday but at midnight tonight you will find another post on another essential fuel which is Oxygen.
I was pretty breathless when I began the challenge and that is because I had not been doing my breathing exercises to prepare me for the increase in activity level.
I will be giving you those exercises in the next post, and not only will they help you complete your marathon but in their own right they will bring a host of health benefits.
Sorry this was a long post today but I wanted to get the preparation out as soon as possible.
I will share my progress on my next marathon in the twice weekly posts and I would be delighted if you would too in the comments. Thanks Sally.