Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The GREAT Canadian Comeback "Lessons Learned"

Gord H. is documenting his GREAT Comeback at a new blog site. Walkn to more 'fun and fitness'.

Break Through to the Other Side

"I finished 5.5 miles, with shuffling, in the time it takes to walk 4 miles"

Yesterday's brisk walk included a fair amount of shuffling (i.e, about 100m of shufflin' every quarter mile) and I was surprised when I returned home. A walk of 5.5 miles would generally take about 110 minutes (about 20 min. per mile) but I was home in 90 minutes. Shufflin' adds a bit of speed!

I was surprised as well by the distance I shuffled on a number of occasions. My mind wandered off a few times - Downey woodpeckers were busy at work in several trees along my route - and when it returned I realized I'd shuffled 200m or more without complaint. Why, soon I'll be running a marathon, I said to myself. (Yes, it was a joke).

Making a little break through here and there doesn't really surprise me. I've run long distances in the past and know - with progressive training (i.e., building up mileage gradually over months of regular running) - a person used to 5- and 10-kilometre distances can one day run a marathon. I'm at the stage in my walking and shuffling where I will notice some improvements in my speed, smooth stride, strength and stamina on occasion.

Yesterday, during one of those mini-break-through moments, I recalled the day I ran my first, solo, long-distance event, quite unexpectedly at that. 

After getting used to jogging one, then two, then three miles at a time on a regular basis in the mid-1970s, I left my house on Victoria Street, London and ran toward the University of Western Ontario, about one mile away. My intention was likely to complete a two- or three-mile easy loop, return home and jot down my mileage (2 mi., 2.5 mi., 3 mi., etc.) in my ever-present record book. But as I past J.W. Little Stadium I wondered if I could sneak onto the track (that surrounded the football field) and measure my speed for a quarter-mile. 

I found a gate open, entered the stadium, checked my watch and started my first lap. One lap soon led to another because it felt good to have the place to myself and I wasn't feeling tired at that point. More laps followed and I started to count the miles. One mile to the stadium and eight laps equals three miles, I said to myself. But I didn't feel like quitting. I felt good. I kept going. 

Four more laps. Four miles. Great. Four more laps. Five miles. Unknown territory. No problem. I kept going. And I kept going some more. 

Nine miles approached, and I reminded myself I still had to get myself home. And ten miles as a total sounded pretty awesome. So, after 32 laps I heartily slapped myself on the back and headed home. I wish I had my old record book. That ten-miler would jump out at me. I likely circled it in red!

I learned a valuable lesson that night as I circled the old UWO track (now gone, along with the well-remembered outdoor hockey rink). A pile of two- and three-milers can prepare a person for a ten-miler when conditions are right. And if I keep shuffling along - 100 to 200 metres at a time - during a couple of walks per week, one day in the future I'll shuffle a quarter mile, then half, and so on.

I've got the walking habit and a six-month-long solid base (and more*). I've got the energy to shuffle on occasion. A ten-miler is obviously a long way off (not even on the horizon) but more mini-break-throughs will surely occur in the future.

"The shuffling routine is coming along nicely"

*After dropping out of marathoning in 2006, I continued a fun and fitness routine for about 8 - 10 years that included cycling, hockey, some running and walking. That being said, couch-potato-like attitudes began to form. Something had to (has to) be done!

Photos GH

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