Runners. It’s a secret world floating around out there. Some of us belong to this group. Some of us STRIVE to become part of it. And some of us look at them and say “Meh….”
Then there’s another group. They’ve been called “wanna-bes,” “non-athletes,” and “social fitness enthusiasts.” These are the walkers. And they’ve gotten a bad rap! In this age of extreme fitness, people tend to forget that ALL physical activity is great for you. That you don’t have to be able to lift 190 pounds to be strong. And you don’t have to run a 5 minute mile to accomplish amazing cardio health!
Personally, I love fitness walking, and there are so many benefits to this under-appreciated workout! Below, I’ll touch on a just a few of the amazing benefits of being a fitness walker.
It’s good for you
Whether you’re trekking along at a 4.0 pace, or tackling hilly terrain at a 3.4 pace, walking is so good for you! It burns massive amounts of calories, improves cardiovascular health, and builds strength and endurance.
It’s easy(ish) on your body
We tend to be hard on our bodies when we’re young, without really thinking through how that’s going to work out later on in life. While running is great for you, it can also be hard on the body. Fitness walking offers a great alternative. It tends to be easier on the feet, ankles, knees, hips…you get the idea. I’ve found that it’s much easier to adjust my gait and speed accordingly for what my body needs when walking vs. running.
(This is not to say that you can avoid all injury with walking. While training for half marathons, I’ve been known to sustain shin splints, joint pain, plantar fasciitis, and muscle fatigue. You should always be conscious of what your body is trying to tell you and adjust accordingly.)
It’s a great place to start & It’s sustainable
Fitness walking is a great place to start if you’re just beginning your fitness journey. You can feel results pretty quickly and start increasing your speed with consistency. It makes you feel good about yourself. And it’s an activity that can be stuck with over the long haul.
Some people may decide to pursue distance races, and others will just enjoy the act of being outside (or on a treadmill), pounding the pavement and feeling the distance slip by.
Fitness walking is great to take up when you’re young, and it’s something you can sustain all the way through life to keep you fit and fabulous!
It’s fun & It’s a great family activity
I used to imagine that when I had a husband and kids, we would spend certain nights of the week each taking a kid and doing an activity with them. I imagined my activity would be walking. No matter the age, walking is an amazing way to introduce kids to a lifetime of being fit-aware! Kids don’t see it as exercise, they just see it as fun, and how awesome is that??
When I get out into my neighborhood to walk, I notice something different every. single. time. I drive through there multiple times a day, but when I walk it, I’ve seen things I’ve never seen before! You can walk at a brisk pace, and it still gives you the opportunity to smell the roses and take in your surroundings! Also, I walk with my mom quite a bit, and it’s a great bonding time for us.
Let’s talk about races, shall we?
Ah, races…the ultimate goal for so many cardio enthusiasts! Racers generally fall into two categories: the serious racers…and the casual racers. The serious racers can be an intimidating lot. They have an air about them that just screams “serious runner.” (not hatin’ on the runners!) These folks race for the PR, or something I can’t even fathom- to WIN.
Fitness walkers new to racing can find this really intimidating. Don’t be scared!
*Note: My main experience with races is through runDisney, so I can’t speak expertly about any other types of race events.
Find your people, fitness walkers! These events can be so much fun if you don’t take them too seriously. Now don’t get me wrong, you have to train for these things- we’re still talking 5k, 10k, half or full marathons. You must commit to conquering distances. And that takes training!
Here’s how to find your fitness walker peeps in the races:
- IF they have earbuds in, they’re probably listening to JImmy Buffett or something similar. Don’t deny it- you know it’s true! It’s just a tiny part of what makes you awesome.
- These people are generally laughing, chatting, having serious conversations, figuring out solutions to the problems of the world, and generally making friends on the race course. While runners tend to be focused on running the course, the fitness walkers tend to be going with the flow.
- Because the walkers are usually assigned to the last few corrals, they’re going to be the ones you see high-fiving and cheering on the runners. As walkers are passing mile 5, some of those serious runners have doubled back and are passing you at their mile 10. Whatever. You’re within the pacing requirements and you’re awesome! Don’t be intimidated. Take a moment for runner’s envy, high-five them, and continue on your journey
- I recently read a blog post, and I’m going crazy trying to remember who wrote it and I just CAN’T, so suffice it to say this was their idea and I’m totally jealous, because it’s genius and I wish I’d thought of it: she mentioned that in a recent race, she opted to start the race DEAD LAST. She was in the last corral, so instead of being swept up in the wave of tens of thousands of other racers, she chose to be the very last person over the start line. GENIUS. Absolute genius, I tell you! It allowed her to check her progress by intermittently checking to see how many people were behind her during the course of the race, and it prevented her from being swept up in the chaos (have you ever seen a racing start line…it’s a mess of bodies!)
Fitness walking is an awesome accomplishment! You’ve taken ownership of your health and fitness, you’re challenging yourself, and you’re DOING IT!
If you’re a fitness walker, love it! Own it! You may not be the person finishing 13.1 in 1:15, but you’re finishing 13.1, and isn’t that pretty amazing…?
QOTD: Are you a fitness walker? What personal goals have you accomplished as a walker?
*Disclaimer: I am not a certified health professional. I’m simply a fitness enthusiast sharing my experiences. You should always consult a professional before tackling a new fitness routine.