By Peggy Stark
There are many times we have endured the injuries or other mishaps that tend to get in the way of our goals and ambitions in life. For many of us here, our main love is to run for our own enjoyment or to train to toe up to the starting line of our local circuit races.
Currently I’m off – no running due to unforeseeable back/spine issues and on-going knee issues of bone on bone. If you’re wondering, yes, I saw several doctors; an orthopedic sports doc, a pain doc and a neurological surgical specialist doc. Finally diagnosed as spinal stenosis with bone spur, pushing in on my spinal column causing the main problem of leg, hip and sacrum pain/weakness; plus, a synovial cyst on the spine.
I’m not sure when I will or if I will be able to run again. But surgery to correct my spine is in the near future, plus one for a knee replacement surgery in 2015.
My decision to see a doctor was because the running I was doing was getting frustrating. I was getting slower instead of faster and the running was aggravating my lower back, hips and legs. During my longer runs, between 8-10 miles, my legs and hips would get so painful and weak, that I could barely walk home after my training runs. Frankly it wasn’t getting better, no matter how much cross training, strength training, flexibility and physical therapy I did…nothing was helping. I was facing the choice to give up running completely, which the thoughts of quitting running became very agonizing, frustrating and depressing. I didn’t want to, but had to. Facing up to it, just deal with it, get over it and move on…
I still wanted something that I know I could still do to continue my fitness with a bit of competitiveness that I enjoy!
That is “walking”. Yes, right, I said it! Some may call it power walking or speed walking, which most people do. But if you want to keep the competitiveness to your walking, then it is rightly known as “race walking”. The good news – I noticed right away that is does not bother my back/spine issues or knee issues. So, I can pretty much pick up where my running left off. No, you won’t find me slowly just strolling, nor will you find me walking those ½ miler or 1 to 3 miler non-competitive walk-a-bouts. I will be right out there with the rest of the runners. Taking it up a few notches; doing it faster! Yes, it’s still low impact. One leg is always on the ground; it’s cardio, it’s healthy and yes, you can burn a “boat load” of calories too!
But if you’re thinking, huh? Seriously? Walking is also a competitive sport? Yes, it has a lot of rules and regulations. But note: we have no technical officials out there tagging for violations – that I know of. All of the 5Ks, 10Ks, Lake Run 4.37 miler, 7.4 miler, maybe even a 1/2 marathon can be great training to perfect your form, pace and speed. And you can still have some fun with it too.
I will be doing the so called “race walking” during some of the races for a while. No, don’t worry, I won’t be toeing up with starting line runners. I can’t walk that fast, well, not that fast yet – LOL!
So take your walking to a higher level, challenge yourself, inspire and encourage others. Just learn to do it faster and further. If runners can run it, yes, you can walk it. Seriously.