Although I may routinely butcher the expression, I often say, “You need to know where you’re going in order to know when you get there.” So even though I’ve been an avid, consistent walker for years, the idea of walking on hilly terrain for at least 3.5 straight hours is a daunting goal—and something for which I’ll need a master plan to accomplish.
Being the Virgo that I am (“planner” is my middle name), just last week—14 weeks prior to the race—I checked out the 12-week half-marathon training program orthopedic surgeon Vonda Wright, MD, created for More. When I compared Dr. Wright’s training plan to my usual weekly fitness routine, a few things dawned on me. First, I saw that I usually walk more days a week and for longer distances than she prescribes (I typically do about 5 walks a week, and cover between 3.5 and 5 or so miles each day). I also noticed that while I do some resistance training and various abdominal exercises, I’m pretty inconsistent—some weeks I’ll do two short sessions, and some I’ll do none. Before my wrist surgery a little over a year ago, I had been doing twice weekly resistance training sessions with a certified fitness trainer. Since the surgery, I significantly dialed down my routine and have been reluctant and unable (or am I unwilling?!) to really push myself or do anything that even resembles a push up or a burpee. I’ve since settled into a less than challenging upper body routine that my physical therapist recommends. To make things worse, not having a trainer to help mix up my workouts has made my motivation to do lower body exercises wane. And to be quite honest, when I have time to workout, I often choose walking over weight training despite the many virtues of the latter—building lean muscle mass (that keeps your metabolism revved up and helps burn body fat) and of course having a more toned and muscular physique (who wouldn’t want that?!).
I was lucky enough to discuss where I am now and where I’m headed in my training with Dr. Wright. Together we created a realistic, safe plan that I can follow (and tweak as need be) over the next 13 weeks. I will continue to power walk 20 to 25 miles per week (Dr. Wright believes more than this increases injury risk—and being sidelined by injury is certainly not on my to-do list). Instead of walking 5 days a week, I’ll walk 4 days a week (and one day will be a long walk). I’ll also continue to cross train, but will aim for a consistent 2 days per week. Wright says, “Some people don’t realize how important it is to cross train. Doing yoga, Pilates or resistance training are great ways to use different muscles in different ways, and that’s what ultimately helps us get stronger.” Over the next few weeks, I’ll try to spice up my upper and lower body resistance training routine (I’ll share some of these moves in a future post), and will even try to slip in some oh so fun Zumba or tap dancing classes. I may even ice skate (an activity I’ve loved since I was a kid with the famous Dorothy Hamill haircut).
Dr. Wright also suggested I add one critical component to my master training plan (one that I forgot about during my first official “training” week): REST. “Including rest as part of your training allows time for muscle healing and rejuvenation of your entire body,” she says. Good advice from the good doctor (and a good excuse to catch up on episodes of Homeland or Modern Family, watch some HGTV or OWN, or snuggle up to a good book).
What I completed during Week 2: January 9-16, 2012:
Monday: 5.2-mile walk outside (1.5 miles with my training partner, Elise Gerber)
Tuesday: 4.15-mile walk outside
Wednesday: 4.4-mile walk outside (most with a friend)
Thursday: 30 minutes resistance training: 3 sets of 5 arm exercises (12 to 15 repetitions of each), 2 sets of lunges (15 repetitions each), 2 wall squats, and 200 crunches
Friday: 3.75-mile walk outside
Sunday: 20 minutes resistance training (2 sets of 5 arm exercises—12 to 15 repetitions of each—and 100 crunches)