As the walking coach for the Foot Traffic 2007 training team, I helped a group of men and women prepare for the annual Foot Traffic Flat Half Marathon, which takes place in Portland, Oregon.
Many of these walkers were recovering from old injuries or resuming exercise after a less active period in their lives. This five-month program gave them a chance to work out their kinks and get their moves back.
Maybe you're also on the move again, regaining your previous fitness level. If so, there are many things you can do to keep yourself going smoothly and for the distance.
Whether you are a beginner
or an experienced athlete, it's good to constantly re-evaluate how you feel after each walk. Assessing your ability to move easily on a regular basis will help you notice when you can safely have a more intense workout, or when it makes sense to plod along for the day.
Behaving as though you've never been injured, ignoring pain, or pushing on -- no matter what -- are compulsive behaviors that lead to injury. It is important to balance tough training days with relaxed walks around the park.
One very simple way to make sure you don't get re-injured is to increase your ability to notice what is going on while you are moving. If you get bored when you walk, maybe you begin to think of things outside the here and now. This is called dissociation.
Dissociation is when you take your awareness away from your present physical experience so you can just get it done. Many people do this when they are exercising or for all kinds of other reasons. Rather than help them muscle their way through a workout, dissociation all too frequently contributes to the kind of behavior that produces injury or re-injury.
One of the most common ways to dissociate is to talk with a friend throughout your workout. If you keep all your attention on your friend, it's difficult to notice when you should back off a bit. And, in your enthusiasm to keep up, you may ignore the message to back off and then end up injured.