The Start Line

Do you have a workout that you just love? For me, it’s walking. It was the spring of 2007 when I realized I wanted to take my walking workout to the next level, by signing up for a half marathon. I found a training schedule online, followed it religiously, and walked my first half marathon that September with a time of 03:05:32. Seven months later, I finished the Country Music Marathon in Nashville with a time of 02:59:41. That still stands as my personal record.

I’ve been thinking about marathons a lot lately, because I’m knee-deep in training for my ninth – and coaching a great group of people as they fundraise for a local charity. It’s my fifth year with the Gang, as we call ourselves. It’s rough getting up at 6:30 every Saturday morning for fifteen weeks in the summer, but it’s worth it when we take that group photo on race day morning and then queue up together at the start line.

I’ve also been thinking about marathons because some people believe “just walking” a marathon doesn’t “count.” These people are generally runners, although not all of them are fast or elite runners. I know someone who repeatedly discounts the efforts of anyone who doesn’t run in general, not just in distance races.

The argument that walkers and other back-of-the-pack participants get in the way of the runners is complete bunk. I’m in the back of the pack, remember? When that gun goes off, the runners are going to take off. They’re probably already going to be relaxing at home when I cross the finish line. I’m not in their way at all, and I’m not using up all the water and Gatorade, because the runners got there before me.

Some runners think marathon walkers are lazy and unmotivated. Tell that to my Gang members, who are faithfully following the prescribed training program. Tell that to my feet, and the hundreds upon hundreds of miles they have walked in pursuit of the next medal.

Here’s the thing: Some people can’t run, and some people choose not to. I’m one of the latter. I have tried running, and I wanted to be good at it and love it, but that didn’t happen. I’m sure I could have pushed myself harder, but I didn’t find running enjoyable, and it wasn’t something I wanted to incorporate into my wellness practice.

You don’t have to start doing marathons (although if you’re interested in training with a fantastic group of people, drop me an email), but you should do what I’ve done: find a workout that you love. Find something active that inspires you and makes you feel good about yourself while it also increases your heart rate and muscle mass. Find something that, when you wake up in the morning, you can’t wait to do. Maybe I’ll see you at the start line!