Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fitness 101

posted by Lee McKenzie

I hate exercising. I really do. As a kid, I was actively involved in all kinds of physical activity—swimming, cycling, skiing, skating, field hockey, track and field. As an adult, I pretty much turned into a sloth. I became busy with family and work commitments, and I stopped making time to exercise.

Oh, I would go through periods when I had good intentions, sometimes I even went so far as to sign up for an exercise class. Tried aerobics. Hated it. Tried aquacise. Hated it. Also not a big fan of public swimming pools, but that’s a separate issue. Took out a gym membership. Hated it.

Two years ago, I had surgery for melanoma followed up with a grueling year-long course of immunotherapy. There were days when I felt not bad and other days when I felt like staying in bed. One of the profound effects was a total loss of stamina. I couldn’t walk more than a couple of blocks without being spaghetti-legged and completely out of breath.

The recovery period has been long and gradual, and in the last couple of months I have finally started to see noticeable improvement. Over the Christmas holidays, my husband and I spent a week in San Francisco and we did a lot of walking. In spite of its hills, San Francisco is a very walkable city, and I realized I could actually walk up one of those hills without requiring emergency resuscitation!

When we arrived home after New Years, I decided I really needed to get moving again. It wasn’t so much a resolution as a realization that at this stage of my life, fitness is important. That realization took me back to the dilemma of finding some form exercise I would enjoy and not quit after two sessions.

So I signed up to walk in a 10K race.

Yes, that’s 10 kilometers or 6.2 miles.

I also signed up for a training clinic and for the first time in...well, pretty much forever...I’ve found something I really, truly enjoy. The group is made up of runners, run/walkers, and walkers. The instructors and group leaders are wonderfully supportive and motivating, but best of all they remind us that they’re not just there to teach, they’re on the same journey we are. Further along, but still journeying!

Each session starts with check-in and a guest speaker. Last week it was a yoga demonstration. That’s followed by warm-up exercises, a walk or run with the appropriate group (each week the walks get a little longer), and cool-down stretches.

I’ve been properly fitted for footwear and even learned some basic techniques for walking properly—posture, stride length, arm position, and most important of all...breathing!

The race itself will be held on Sunday, April 25, so I still have a couple of months of training ahead of me. To facilitate that, and to challenge myself a little more, I signed up to walk in a 5K fun run on Sunday, March 7. My daughter has registered to run the same race, and last Sunday we decided to check out the course. I went online, printed the map and we walked the 5K route together. According to our wrist watches, we completed the course in 55 minutes.

Let’s face it, at 11 minutes per kilometer I am not breaking any records here, but on race day I now have something to aim for—walking the route in a record-breaking 54 minutes!

Until next time,
The Writer Side of Life


Rachel said...

Good for you, Lee! Walking is so good for so many things, including creativity – so maybe we can expect more books from you? (hint hint)

Linda Henderson said...

I don't get much exercise myself but I have severe RA and my joints aren't in great shape for most stuff. Good luck with your races and good for you for taking an active part in an exercise program.

Lee McKenzie said...

LOL, Rachel! I'll get right on that ;)

Lee McKenzie said...

Linda, you have my utmost sympathy. In addition to restricting mobility, I understand that condition can be extremely painful. And yet I so often see your comments here, and you're always so positive and upbeat. Thank you for being such an inspiration!

Linda Warren said...


I'm so glad you're better. Good luck with the race.


Estella said...

Wtg, Lee!

Lee McKenzie said...

Linda and Estella, thanks so much for your good wishes!

Doug said...

I really liked your comment on the journey that we are taking together. Thanks for being on the path with me

Lee McKenzie said...

Doug! Thanks so much for checking out the blog!

Beverly Carstensen said...

Great news Lee, you'll find walking so therapeutic!! Dr. Oz says we all need 30 minutes a day for optimum health! I've had plantar fasciitis for 6 months and walking is grueling ... I really miss it! I'll be cheering you on on April 25th! Way to go! Love Bev xo

Lee McKenzie said...

Ouch, Bev. I hope this heals soon.

Right now I walk three times a week and do other things, like cycling, on alternating days.