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Getting ready for the big day!


Training for those 50 miles

Written by on May 18, 2011

If you live in Massachusetts like I do, the snow has cleared and it's time to start thinking about your walking program. Here are some motivational tips and information to help get you going.

To train correctly for this event, you need to progress slowly and listen to your body at all times. First, begin by adjusting the frequency of your walking: we have several training schedules available to help you build up your regularity. Then slowly increase the time spent walking, and then the speed, or intensity. Through it all, remember the essential steps of a good walking program are to warm-up, walk, cool-down, stretching and strength training.

Here are some other positive aspects and techniques to keep in mind:

Five Good Reasons to Start Walking (besides the MS Challenge Walk)

  1. Reduces cholesterol levels
  2. Decrease high blood pressure
  3. Reduces risk of heart disease
  4. Increase energy
  5. Decreases stress

Five Ways to Incorporate Walking into Your Daily Life

  1. Walk your dog (or someone else's dog — with permission, of course!)
  2. Take a pre- or post-dinner walk. This is a great time to just be by yourself or take along your family for some quality time with them!
  3. Skip the elevator and take the stairs
  4. Do errands on foot, or park in the rear of the parking lot and walk to the store
  5. Walk to work — even if you telecommute, take a half-hour each morning to do a lap around the neighborhood, ending at your "office"

Five Steps to Take to be Successful

  1. Make a commitment to yourself
  2. Reserve time in your schedule
  3. Create a habit first
  4. Establish your long and short term goals
  5. Reward yourself when you meet your goals (a new bestseller, tickets to a concert or play, etc)

It's time to dust off those sneakers (if you haven't already) and get moving!

Lori is the Executive Vice President of Resource Development for the Greater New England Chapter of the National MS Society. She has been with the Society for over 10 years. MS Challenge Walk holds a special place in her heart, and every year, it inspires her to continue her work on behalf of the 19,000 people with MS and their families the chapter supports.

Winter exercises to keep the body moving

Written by on Nov 8, 2010

If you live in New England, this morning's mushy mess followed by this evening's early sunset will confirm what you've long been fearing: winter is here.

Fortunately, us northerners are made of hardy stock that will survive the long, cold, dark season, an experience that will make the spring shedding of scarves for shorts all the sweeter. Then our bones will creak and muscles stretch as we start to get back in shape for the MS Challenge Walk. Any doctor will tell you that health is something easier to retain than regain. So how can we keep in shape all year long and not just when it's warm out?

There are plenty of aerobic exercises you can enjoy year-round, regardless of the weather. The most obvious answer is to join a gym or the Y, where you can walk and run on treadmills, use step machines, or join dance and yoga classes. But being cooped up indoors is not always the answer for winter doldrums, especially at the rates some gyms charge.

Cross Country Skiing along Great Glen TrailsIf you prefer to be outdoors taking advantage of the unique opportunities offered by the cold, try cross-country skiing. The Cross Country Ski Areas Association lists eight trails in Massachusetts alone, with more throughout the region.

Or, if you're like our stalwart leader of the bike crew, you can ride your bicycle, even in the snow. has more details on taking this risk.

Personally, I enjoy contra dancing. It's a smoke-free, alcohol-free, family-friendly activity that accommodates all skill levels, especially beginners. Live music and fun people combine in a routine that's the equivalent of walking several miles. (Seriously — they've measured the distance traveled by dancing feet!)

How do you keep your body moving in the winter? Share your suggestions in the comments below!

Ken joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2005, more than a decade after his mother was diagnosed. After walking for three years and 150 miles, he switched to the support crew and now rides his bicycle along the trail, providing whatever encouragement (and snacks!) he can to the 600 walkers. He is also an alumnus of the event's steering committee and is this site's webmaster.

Some tips for caring for your feet

Written by on Aug 23, 2010

The part of your body on which the MS Challenge Walk has the greatest impact — pun intended — is your feet. Everyone knows to wear the right sneakers and to break them in well before the walk. But what more can you do to avoid blisters and visits to the medical tent? Here are some tips.

  • Wrap your feet in athletic tape, from your toes to your ankles. Don't wrap too tightly! Use Vaseline or Petroleum jelly under the athletic tape.
  • Be sure your toenails are trimmed or filed close to the end of your toe, to prevent friction and bumping against your shoes which could result in the loss of toenails!
  • Epsom salt foot soaks help soothe tired achy feet! Dissolve a half cup of this mineral into two quarts of very warm water. Pour the water into a foot-soaking pan and soak your bare feet for fifteen to twenty minutes, once or twice a day. Rinse your feet off with clean tap water and dry them thoroughly. This service is provided free to all visitors to the medical tent, whether or not you need to see a medical professional.

Foot tape

Better to look like this than blistered!

Good luck out there!

Jacqui is a registered nurse working in home dialysis, living in Denver, Colorado. Born and rasied in Gray, Maine, Jacqui was diagnosed with MS in 2003 and has been participating in the MS Challenge Walk since 2007. This year is the first time she's had her own team, Whittaker's Warriors.

What to expect at the medical tents

Written by on Aug 9, 2010

I have had the opportunity to experience the medical tents both as a walker and as a nurse. The medical crew is available for everything you may need as a walker or as a crew member. As a walker you may develop sore, blistered feet; the crew will mend you with ointments, bandages, gauze, and advice. You may develop sore or swollen joints; the crew will ice and wrap you up! Maybe you will suffer a bit of dehydration or heat exhaustion. They will cool you down and nourish you with fluids. Aches and pains? A little Tylenol or Advil will do!

The main medical tent is available at the Sea Camps from 6 AM until the last patient leaves, and each rest stop has a medical station with nearly everything you might need on your two-day, 30-mile journey. Should the need arise for more intensive medical treatment, the crew will stabilize you until more advanced care arrives.

As a walker my first year, I was treated with TLC, and I saw all walkers treated that way. As a nurse on medical crew my second year, I treated everyone with the same TLC! But no matter how well you're treated, the best care is preventive. Over the next few Mondays, I'll give some medical advice that you can use to take care of yourself and avoid any medical emergencies. Stay tuned!

Jacqui is a registered nurse working in home dialysis, living in Denver, Colorado. Born and rasied in Gray, Maine, Jacqui was diagnosed with MS in 2003 and has been participating in the MS Challenge Walk since 2007. This year is the first time she's had her own team, Whittaker's Warriors.

Let training walks inspire you!

Written by on Aug 6, 2010

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 Jul 26, 2010

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.

Destination in mind

Written by on Jul 9, 2010

I'll admit, doing something like the Challenge Walk is out of character for me. I'm a destination walker: I walk to get to where I'm going. Even though I like the idea of going out for a stroll for fun or exercise, it's darn hard for me to get off my rear unless there's a real end to my journey — the grocery store, my job, Starbucks… So I knew I was going to have to think of something creative to get myself training for this walk.

I found an easy way to do a little more training right off the bat. I work about a mile away from where I live, and walk there every day. With the help of Google Maps' walking directions, I found a way to make my usual route about a half a mile longer. As an added plus, it's a lot more scenic — instead of walking past a mile of apartment buildings and busy intersections, I take my time and loop around a nearby park area, complete with a walking path and a pond filled with excitable geese. My destination remains the same, but I can take an extra ten minutes to see a prettier part of town and get my feet used to walking greater distances. In another month or so, I hope to reevaluate my route and change it to make the trek even longer.

Chill frozen yogurt

Tart frozen yogurt can be a powerful motivator!

Of course, an extra half-mile per day is helpful, but I won't be ready for 30 miles unless I start doing some distance, too! My solution for my motivation problem is basically shameless self-bribery. If I'm feeling hungry for frozen yogurt, I can "earn" it by walking a huge loop around the neighborhood that ends at my favorite frozen yogurt shop. What's more, I can find interesting-sounding coffee shops or ice cream stores that are reasonably far away from me as destinations, using training time to get better acquainted with my neighborhood. Somehow, the walk home always seems shorter with something cold and delicious in hand!

I'm hoping to slowly break out of my tendency to be a destination walker, or at least better remember that not all destinations are physical locations. The Challenge Walk's destination is may physically be Cape Cod, but it's actually a world without MS, and I hope to walk all the way there — though I might show up with a frappe in hand.

Kahmmie was a first-year walker in 2010 and had just started to get involved with the MS community, with the inspiration of her then significant other, Ken, this site's webmaster. She lived in the Boston area and attended graduate school full-time.

Walking with friends

Written by on Jun 25, 2010

Friends walking

You're not in this alone!

Training is not easy for me. Lack of time and fatigue are big reasons why I find it so difficult to commit to a regular training schedule. This year, though, I'm approaching training differently: I'm walking with friends. We walk at lunch time, after work and on weekends. The walk group isn't always the same. Some days, there are five or six of us walking, other days, just one or two. It doesn't matter how many of us are walking together, the result is always the same: we laugh, talk and the miles fly by.

If training is difficult for you, consider forming a walk group of co-workers, friends and family. You'll be surprised how much easier it is to train!

Diagnosed with MS in 1994, Patty responded the way many do: she refused to discuss it. It took her ten years to realize that silence isn't the answer. She, her friends and family formed the Blister Buddies for their first Challenge Walk in 2004. Patty is now on the Challenge Walk Steering Committee and chairs the PR Subcommittee. In November 2008, she became a member of the Greater NE Chapter's Board of Trustees.