How have I ended up here? Every time I exercise I seem to end up injured. Just this week I did a power walk and ended up with a sore back and excruciating hip, both of which kept me up at night and once again scuppered my plans for a week full of exercise.
This has been the cycle of me and exercise since 2009 – to be exact – since I ran the Stafford Half Marathon in a creditable time of 2 hours 15 minutes, but sadly I’ve not really run since. Oh, but I love it. Sadly it doesn’t love me. I also dabbled in triathlon and I dream of completing an Ironman, but in order to do that I have to be able to run. I have been forcing myself through a constant cycle of exercise and injury just to get back to a moment in time when I could run. I get so far, but as soon as I start to add distance or pace to my running, something ‘goes’. An ankle, a hip, a back, a knee. What I really loved about it was that it was quick. I could come home from work, get up in the morning and spend 30 minutes or so exercising and get a really good workout. Everything else just seems to take so long.
I have to admit defeat. For whatever reason, running is not for me at this time and so I need to find an alternative. I also have to get out of the exercise, injury spiral. Back in the day I trained as a Nordic Walking Instructor because I loved it so much and I’m not entirely sure why I stopped doing it. At the end of the day I can try to find reasons but it just boils down to the fact that since I gave up work I have become fairly lazy. I have the time for exercise, so it should be easy for me, but should never usually takes you to where you want to be.
Where I want to be is enjoying exercise, pure guilt free exercise. Not going to a gym because I’ve paid for it, so I should. Not entering races because I should, and then failing to make the start line. Most importantly I need to do something that I enjoy; maintains my fitness levels; breaks the injury cycle; but most importantly, something that makes me feel good about myself. In the run up to Christmas last year I did actually and un-intentionally lose weight – through walking. I had a job that meant I walked an average of 6 miles a day. It didn’t feel like exercise. Living in Bristol it’s often easier to walk than drive due to the trauma of parking. So every day I walked and I felt great.
According the the NHS ‘Walking for Health‘ website, ‘Regular walking has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers’. Researchers at New Mexico Highlands University have recently found that ‘although there is lighter foot impact associated with walking compared with running, walking still produces large pressure waves in the body that significantly increase blood flow to the brain’. In addition they maintain that ‘While the effects of walking on CBF were less dramatic than those caused by running, they were greater than the effects seen during cycling, which involves no foot impact at all’. So it seems that evidence is on my side, although I have pretty much spurned walking as dull and dreary it seems it can benefit me as much as other forms of exercise. And the best part, I might actually enjoy myself whilst I do it!
Earlier this month I set myself the target of walking 1000 miles in a year. I do like a good spreadsheet and I spend ages creating a beauty. With three days to go I achieved this month’s target. It’s the first thing I have achieved with regards to fitness for a very long time. I have a plan (you can’t beat a good plan), a good pair of trainers and I’m off out of the door to walk my way back to happiness.