See Jane walk really fast

Jane and me having fun along the Myrtle Beach Diva Half Marathon course in 2014

Jane and me having fun along the Myrtle Beach Diva Half Marathon course in 2014, where she helped me keep a speedy pace

This is my friend Jane (right). Jane is vivacious, engaging, caring and determined. She’s a mom, a wife, a nurse and a dog lover. She is a joy to know and is a great cheerleader to have in your corner.

Jane is also a very fast walker who has completed many marathons and half marathons. I know she’s fast because I have managed to (and, other times, tried and not managed to!) keep up with her on the race course.

She is training for her next race and posted recently on Facebook about some people she encountered along the way.

“Over the last few weeks,” she shared, “I have been taunted by rude remarks from some women…. One said I didn’t look like marathon material…. Another felt I wasn’t ‘skinny enough’ to complete a marathon! Little did they know I completed a lot of them.”

Jane’s reaction: to call for more positivity and kindness rather than the alternative, and I couldn’t agree more.

I’ve been on the scene for many marathons and half marathons, both as a participant and on the sidelines/finish line as a team coach. I’ve seen people of ALL shapes and sizes on race courses and coming across the finish line. (I’ve previously written about my friend Lana, who, yes, was obese but defied judging a book by its cover.) All of that has left me with the knowledge that we do not know someone’s capabilities, their strength, their stamina by simply looking at them.

Why doesn’t Jane look like marathon material to the observer who said so? Because she doesn’t fit a predetermined stereotype about marathoners? Who’s to say what a marathoner should look like? Believe me, they look like any random cross-section of the population.

Many people are surprised to learn that you can walk a marathon instead of run — I’ve mentioned this several times in several posts — and sometimes we walkers find ourselves on the defensive when other racers (read: runners) imply that we don’t belong.

Anyone who trains and prepares is qualified to participate in a race. If you reach that benchmark, more power to you! Why anyone would seek to tear down someone who is working hard to achieve a physical goal is a mystery. I’m not sure why someone would seek to denigrate a stranger based on surface assumptions. Let’s seek to lift each other up and celebrate others’ accomplishments rather than belittle and assume that someone can’t or shouldn’t.

It’s easy to look at someone and think, “How could she possibly run/walk 13.1 miles? She doesn’t look fast/strong/dedicated enough.”

But look deeper.

(And then, for fun — with a warning in advance for some strong language — read this.)

Mixed motivation

I have a love-hate relationship with my FitBit.

On one hand, an activity tracker can be quite motivating. It helps you set, work toward and achieve health and fitness goals.

On the other hand, it can make you feel dejected or disappointed or frustrated when you don’t meet your goal.

One of the main components of an activity tracker is the step counter. And lots of research says that we should aim for at least 10,000 steps a day, for better health and fitness.

I have a few personal conflicts with that number.

Activity trackers might help you meet your goals

Activity trackers might help you meet your goals

First, it can be difficult to get in that many steps in a day, depending on your job and your schedule. I have a very sedentary desk job and a two-hour round-trip commute. Even when I try and remind myself to get up and move around every hour during the workday, and even when I make it a point to walk to the restroom way on the other side of my office building or even on another floor, the cumulative step addition is not as significant as I’d hope.

Second, it’s important to do a variety of types of exercise, not just walking. (Which feels slightly blasphemous to say, given the root topic/name of this website, but…)

I try to alternate a day of cardio with a day of strength training. And that day of cardio might not be walking — it might be bicycling, either stationary (at the gym) or outdoors (season permitting). Or it might be rowing, a great full-body exercise.

Given my schedule, time for exercise has to be carefully allotted. On weekdays, I have about 45 minutes for a workout. That doesn’t leave enough time to always get in 10,000 steps (at least via an “official” workout). Even if I devote my 45 minutes to treadmill time, I won’t hit that number.

All that said, what about the motivation factor of an activity tracker? I know for sure that they can definitely encourage wearers to reach their step goal. I have friends who have walked around in circles while waiting for a traffic light to change or have gone out for a 1.5-mile walk late in the evening to reach their step goal. To them, I offer praise.

And if you take advantage of the “challenge” factor that some trackers have — FitBit allows you to invite friends to step challenges over the course of a day, weekend or week — the competition factor might be super motivating if you hate to lose!

It took me three-plus hours of snow shoveling this weekend (#blizzard2016) to reach 10,000 steps. I was excited to feel that “you reached your goal” vibration on my wrist, but a little fed up that it took me three hours of constant movement to earn it.

Probably the greatest thing about activity trackers is that they allow you to tailor your activity and goals for you.

Set your step goal for what feels attainable without frustration over scheduling or workday obstacles. Track your mileage. Keep tabs on your heart rate during activity. Set and stick to a workout routine, above all else, and in the long run, that’s the activity worth tracking and the goal worth keeping.

Happy exercising!

Thanks, Lana

LanaIn 10 years of doing half marathons and marathons, I’ve met countless people and made many friends. Lana L. was one of them.

I got to know her when Team Prevention went to a race in Dallas in late 2008. I’m afraid I don’t remember if I met her before the event, but I definitely remember interacting with her during the race, when I was along the sidelines midway to cheer for our team. I walked a few blocks with her, making sure she was OK, and she was. I saw her again at the finish line — boy, was she glad to finish! — and helped her celebrate.

We saw each other again a few months later when she did a half marathon with our team in Myrtle Beach, SC. She improved her finish time by about 15 minutes!

And then she was among the group for our final event, in Las Vegas in late 2009. I remember sitting at dinner with her and catching up. Her finish time in that race was 55 minutes BETTER than her race in Dallas a year earlier.

Lana (left) and Pam at a 5K in 2013

Lana (left) and Pam at a 5K in 2013

I didn’t see her again until fall 2012, when a group of friends got together in the Outer Banks for a race and a visit. I was so pumped to see her along the joint half marathon-8K course. It put a spring in my step to share some of the distance with her.

As a race team coordinator and participant, I’ve seen half and full marathoners of every shape and size and ability. To look at Lana, it would be easy to assume that she could not complete even 1 mile, let alone 13.1 — and improve her finish time from 4:40 to 3:45, to boot.

But they didn’t know Lana. Determination was her middle name. That’s not to say she didn’t do some lighthearted whining when the race was done, about her sore feet or other body parts. But damn if she didn’t have her mind set on completing what she set out to do and cross that finish line.

Her determination was so motivating and inspiring. She was full of spirit and energy, and she brightened up any gathering. She had such presence and shared her spirit and energy with those she encountered.

So it’s with a heavy heart that I have to say that Lana lost her battle with some medical issues this week. I can only hope that she’ll hear her walking friends call on her when they hit a wall in a race and that she’ll send a burst of energy our way to make it the final stretch to the finish line. One could find no better source of inspiration.

 

Apologies for the absence

Hello, Walk With Joelle followers!

I realize I’ve been absent for a while. I’ve been on the roller coaster of life, dealing with some changes, and that’s taken me away from posting here.

One change is a delightful one — welcoming these cuties into our home:

Milo and Carly 2_Sept. 24, 2015

I’ll be back soon with regular posts — I promise!

Fall walking class: Sign up today!

Starting Sept. 16, join us for a six-week walking workout class in Bridgewater, NJ. Here are the details:

My reliable No. 2 pair, promoted back to the lead position.

Walking for Life: Turn an everyday activity into more of a workout. Whether it’s a casual walk or more vigorous exercise, this class is designed to develop the proper walking form to maximize your exercise time. Walk at your own pace or challenge yourself with speed changes or interval drills. Sessions also will include some strengthening moves using resistance bands.

Where: Class will meet at The PeopleCare Center, 120 Finderne Ave., Bridgewater, NJ. (It’s near the intersection of Route 28 and Finderne Avenue, behind the TD Bank.)

When: Wednesdays, Sept. 16 through Oct. 21, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Cost: $60 for the whole series (that’s just $10 a class!)

Register: The class is sponsored by Jointure – Child Enrichment & Adult Education. To register, call its offices at (909) 722-0233. Or contact me at walkwithjoelle@mindspring.com and I’ll email you the registration form, which can be faxed, mailed or hand-delivered to Jointure offices.

Any questions? Send me an email. Don’t delay … class space is limited. Hope to see you there!

Today’s walk

Random thought on this morning’s walk: How come we never see baby squirrels?

I see lots of adult squirrels, scrambling up trees and scampering along branches.

I see baby deer, nibbling on leaves or narrowly avoiding death by auto.

I see baby rabbits and ducks. I see baby groundhogs (two of them live with their parents under our shed, as a matter of fact).

But where are the baby squirrels? Those parents are awfully protective, I guess!

Photo by Chris M. Junior

Photo by Chris M. Junior

Enough is enough

I’m pretty susceptible to advertising. Like those fast food commercials, where the Coke is so fizzy and you can almost feel how cold it is? Ahhh. Or just about any Hallmark commercial will have me reaching for the tissue box before it’s over.

I also really have a thing for clever tag lines — especially ones that employ a play on words. For example: Kudos to whoever came up with the slogan for a mattress company: “Sleepy’s, for the rest of your life.”

Anyway … I’m sure you’re wondering, how does this relate to exercise and a healthy lifestyle?

I’m not a paid (or unpaid) spokesperson, nor do I have any special affinity for the company, but I think one of the most brilliant slogans ever is Nike’s “Just do it.”

traffic-lights-208253Just do it.

Simple. Actionable. Inspiring. Even motivating. All in three words.

And right now, lately, I could use a lot of the latter. I feel a little embarrassed to say this as a fitness instructor, but I have been severely lacking in the motivation (and, for that matter, willpower) department. Summer is usually the time when I’m shot out of a cannon, getting in lots of long walks, working in my yard for half the weekend, doing lots of biking, eating piles of fresh fruit and vegetables.

But I’ve been in a slump the past month or two. I’ve had countless arguments with myself about getting out of bed and going to the gym, or resisting too many sweet treats. Bed and treats have been winning. It’s so easy to get into a vicious cycle. Not exercising leaves me more fatigued, which makes me not feel like getting out of bed in the morning, which makes me feel like a slug, which makes me want to wallow … repeat.

Enough is enough.

Alarm goes off for gym time? Just do it.

Be more active? Just do it.

Choose veggies and hummus instead of potato chips? Just do it.

Take a lap around my office instead of checking Facebook? Just do it.

Mind over matter … here I go.

Happy anniversary!

This week marks the one-year anniversary of Walk With Joelle. (Or, as Monica on Friends would say, “Happy blogiversary!”)

flag-655337I hope over the past year you’ve been entertained, informed, inspired or motivated by what you’ve read here. Or maybe all of the above. My intent is to do all of those and, in the process, encourage enthusiasm about living a healthy lifestyle. It’s so easy to think short-term, but working to stay fit and healthy has enormous long-term benefits.

In honor of this occasion, some number crunching:

Number of posts: 63

Some of the most popular: “Keeping pace,” “Top advice for keeping a resolution,” “Not so sweet,” “One million bucks

Some of the least: “Guilty as charged,” “It goes both ways

Number of miles an average person walks in one year: Roughly 1,100

Number of people who did a half marathon in the past year: More than 2 million

Record-setting age of the oldest woman to finish a full marathon, which occurred in May: 92 (so inspiring!)

Number of ideas I have for future posts: Too many to count, so keep reading!

Thanks for your support over the past year and I hope you will continue to be entertained, informed, inspired and/or motivated by Walk With Joelle.