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Let training walks inspire you!

Written by on August 6, 2010 at 9:48 am

This past Saturday, I drove from Boston to Springfield, Mass., to participate in a training walk sponsored by Gordon's Team. We had perfect weather, cool and dry, and I got in a longer walk than I would have had I stayed at home that weekend.

For me, training walks are a great way to ensure that I get in those longer walks that are necessary for my training. Even more important, they make me feel connected to the MS Challenge Walk. The conversations while walking (or munching on fruit after) re-connect me to other walkers, whether it's their first walk or their ninth. These conversations reaffirm why I participate in the Challenge Walk year after year.

Lace up those shoes and head to the next training walk. There's one this weekend in Brockton, with others on August 22 in Arlington and August 29 in Ayer. Get your miles in, earn some bonus bucks, and get inspired!

Susan lives in the greater Boston area and has been involved with the National MS Society since she was diagnosed with MS in 1995. She has participated in the MS Challenge walk for the past seven years and currently serves on the event's steering committee.

She's got the beat!

Written by on July 26, 2010 at 10:48 am

The day that most changed my life — not my wedding day, not the birth of my first or even second child — it was the day that I brought home my iPod. (I really hope that my husband and sons aren't keeping up on this blog!)

Okay, perhaps my iPod purchase wasn't quite as momentous as the other events that I mentioned, but still, it did revolutionize my training for the MS Challenge Walk. I suddenly had the ability to put together different walking playlists of music to inspire me during my walks. The playlists have two main things in common: a quick beat to keep my walking pace snappy, and good lyrics that I enjoy listening to. The walk list themes vary from show tunes to pop and everything in between, but they all keep me moving and humming for the many miles and hours that it takes to prepare for this event.

Walking without the music just isn't the same. The only long walks that I enjoy without music occur every fall on Cape Cod when I get to catch up with the many Challenge Walkers that I only get to see once a year.

What music keeps you going? What music inspires you? Fill out the form below to let us know, and we'll compile and share the results. Who knows — you may just hear it during the Challenge Walk weekend!

Susan lives in the greater Boston area and has been involved with the National MS Society since she was diagnosed with MS in 1995. She has participated in the MS Challenge walk for the past seven years and currently serves on the event's steering committee.

Glass half full

Written by on February 1, 2010 at 10:34 am

I was surprised when I went to enter the dates for the Challenge Walk 2010 into my calendar. Rosh Hashanah, one of the two most important holidays in the Jewish religion, overlapped with the walk. How would I handle this? How could I decide between an important religious holiday and something as important to me as the Challenge Walk?

Fortunately, the National MS Society recognized the conflict and chose not to put its supporters in the position I briefly found myself in. I am incredibly thankful that the NMSS took steps to eliminate that very difficult choice by shortening the event to a two-day walk for this one year.

But to walk 31 miles instead of 50 miles? How disappointing, I thought — for a few hours.

Just as I wouldn't choose to have MS, having MS has taught me to approach life differently and to look for the opportunities hidden within the challenges.  As disappointing as it will be to walk two days and 31 miles, instead of three days and 50 miles, 2010 is presenting us with an incredible opportunity. I have heard people say that they could never walk 50 miles — it's just too long. Have you heard the same thing? Well, here is a chance for those who do not believe they can walk the 50 miles to walk a more manageable 31 miles. And when they walk those 31 miles, they'll find that participating in the Challenge Walk is such an amazing experience that they will walk the 50 mile route the following year.

This is your chance. Pull in all those people who balked at the 50-mile distance. Turn them into rookie Challenge Walkers, and watch them return year after year.

Susan lives in the greater Boston area and has been involved with the National MS Society since she was diagnosed with MS in 1995. She has participated in the MS Challenge walk for the past seven years and currently serves on the event's steering committee.

Slimy yet satisfying

Written by on July 27, 2009 at 11:23 am

One random discussion with a stranger made all of the difference… for my feet. I was on a training walk with a group of women who liked to walk longer distances than most sane people, and I fell into step with a woman who had walked 60 miles to raise funds for breast cancer research. Among the many tidbits of information she passed on as we walked, she mentioned petroleum jelly (or Vaseline). Oh yes, you're thinking, it works wonders on chapped lips (so true!). But that is for a different blog. I've found when you're walking 50 miles that petroleum jelly is also a wonderslime for your feet. The first morning of  the MS Challenge Walk I slathered petroleum jelly all over my feet — between my toes, on the soles of my feet, over my heels, and on the top of my feet. Gross. Words cannot convey how slimy and strange this felt. And yet, this woman promised me that I would be blister-free (or at least have fewer blisters) if I cut down on the friction by slathering the goo on, so I did.

To add to the fun, I then tried to slip my double-layer walking socks on over the slimy feet. Easy, you say? Yes, but you have to be certain to get rid of any wrinkles in the socks (again, blister avoidance), as they stick to the slime.

Lunchtime rolled around, and I remembered my talk with the stranger. I retrieved my change of clothing bag that had been set out by the crew and pulled out my fresh pair of socks and a tube of petroleum jelly. I took off my shoes and socks before enjoying my lunch so that my feet could breathe. After lunch, I slathered up my feet again and put on a fresh pair of socks and my sneakers.

I have participated in all the MS Challenge Walks on Cape Cod to date, and while I have had some blisters, they have been small and for the most part not too bothersome. This luck is probably due to a combination of the double-layer socks, sneakers that fit well, and training, along with the petroleum jelly. Still, I remember my first back-to-back long training walk and remember the big blisters that I got that day when I had the right socks and shoes, but forgot to slather on the goo.

Some walkers swear by Body Glide instead of petroleum jelly, but I'm not changing what has worked for me during my many MS Challenge Walks. Try both, find what works for you, and stick to it. Your feet will thank you!

Susan lives in the greater Boston area and has been involved with the National MS Society since she was diagnosed with MS in 1995. She has participated in the MS Challenge walk for the past seven years and currently serves on the event's steering committee.

Whatever the weather

Written by on May 5, 2009 at 6:01 am

The sky is gray, it's raining, and all is well in my world. I am in what I consider to be the perfect rain moment. My commute is over, I am warm and dry, and water is heating up for tea. At this point you may be wondering what relevance this has, if any, to the MS Challenge Walk in September. I'm glad you asked!

This September will the eighth time that I have participated in the MS Challenge Walk. Just as September evokes thoughts of the start of school for many people, the mention of September causes my mind to drift toward the Challenge Walk. I think of how fortunate I have been to have met so many wonderful walkers, crew, volunteers and National MS Society staff during these years of participating in this walk. Then I think of the weather. Yes, as important as the people are, my mind always comes back to the weather.

Do I normally fixate on the weather? No. Did I track the weather ever so carefully leading up to my wedding day? Not a chance. But for a 50-mile walk, well, that's another story. I have visited more weather predicting Web sites than you can possibly imagine in the days leading up to the Challenge Walk each year. Would the dreaded "rain" be predicted for the walk dates? Rain, which raises the specter of larger than life blisters and images of soggy walkers, crew and moods? There was very little rain to speak of during years one through six. Each year I obsessed about the weather, and each year we dodged the bullet.  It couldn't last.

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Susan lives in the greater Boston area and has been involved with the National MS Society since she was diagnosed with MS in 1995. She has participated in the MS Challenge walk for the past seven years and currently serves on the event's steering committee.