Training — It's not for procrastinators

Written by on May 5, 2009 at 6:00 am

Training is critical to a successful MS Challenge Walk. Here's how NOT to do it.

When I ripped the March page off my calendar, it signaled the end to a dreadful winter. My joy was short lived. My knees began knocking, my heart skipped a beat. Was I experiencing the symptoms of spring fever? Nope. I was feeling the guilt of having once again not worked out immediately following my last Challenge Walk.

Each year I make a vow to allow myself only a few weeks of rest before hitting the gym again. Each year I promise myself that I'll be in better shape next year.

So what happens to keep regular people like me (as opposed to Olympic athletes) from training? Let me identify some training pitfalls you should try to avoid…

Most walkers return home with some physical ailments. I usually have at least one or two small blisters that need to heal and tendonitis in one leg. They add up to all the mental ammunition I need to convince myself to take it easy, just for the first few weeks after the walk. Yeah, right.

September quickly gives way to October, and suddenly I find myself eating the last Snickers bar intended for the neighborhood kids' treat or treat bags. Again I vow to begin training but don't think about it again until just about the time I push myself away from the Thanksgiving table. Mentally and physically groaning, I call the local gym to check on membership rates.

Procrastination rules, however, and it's not long before the sound of ho-ho-ho fills my head and the only walking I am doing is up and down the holiday buffet lines.  New Year passes, and then it seems just too darn cold to do anything but shovel snow and chip the never ending ice off the driveway. Next thing I know, the calendar reads "April" and finally I vow to stop the madness before Easter morning finds me biting the head off a chocolate bunny, with no clue as to the whereabouts of my sneakers.

I am now happy to report that I have renewed my gym membership, having signed up for a full year. As for this April, I've already begun walking outside and visit the gym at least three times a week taking advantage of a service I have paid for with my hard earned money. After all, I may not be an Olympian but I am not wasteful.

Whether it's your first Challenge Walk or your fifth, training is critical to a successful walk. My advice? Don't get hung up worrying about fifty miles. Start small but get started. Be serious about training but keep it light too.  If you enjoy it, you'll keep at it. If you find yourself procrastinating, let me know. Misery loves company.

The Walk is an incredible experience and not something you want to watch go by as you sit inside a medical tent. Training won't necessarily ensure you'll get through all fifty miles but without it, you're likely to have problems within the first few.

Next report will be from inside the gym. I promise.

Joan joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2004 when her friend and now Blister Buddies team captain, Patty Thorpe registered to walk. Patty, diagnosed with MS over 10 years ago, shared her diagnosis with Joan early on in their friendship. The undertaking of that first Challenge Walk and the three that followed not only strengthened Patty's and Joan's friendship, it began an MS educational journey that continues well after mile fifty each year.

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