Who has heard of ultra walking? No, never heard of it? An ultra is anything over a marathon. Ultra walking is walking long distances. I’m new to this and only recently heard about it on Joanna Penn’s (The Creative Penn) podcast. She did an ultra race last year and shared her thoughts with listeners.
That podcast got me to thinking. I had been considering giving up running altogether for a while in favor of something that’s easier on my body. I barely ran last year because I kept having to stop for weeks, sometimes months at a time, because of foot pain. Plantar Fasciitis impacts lots of runners. It causes heel and arch pain. The pain isn’t constant. It’s something you feel after you’ve been sitting a while and stand up and start walking. Or first thing in the morning when you get out of bed. I enjoy walking without pain, and as I get older, I don’t take so many things for granted. If I’m doing something that causes negative side-effects (like pain when walking), I think that maybe I shouldn’t be doing it.
At the end of last year, I started walking again. I typically walk outside at about a 3.5 – 3.7 pace. It fluctuates, depending on the number of hills I’m walking on. But I wanted to bring my speed up to a consistent 4.0, so in December, I decided to do some walking on a treadmill. It was the only way I could ensure I was doing a 4.0 pace and maintaining it. I went into it thinking it wouldn’t be a big deal. At one point I was running three – four days a week, 3-4 miles a run. Walking at a 4.0 on a flat treadmill would be gravy.
I was 100% WRONG!
Revelation 1 – Let me tell you, maintaining a 4.0 pace for 45 minutes is a lot harder than I thought it would be. The first thing I noticed was the impact on the muscles around my shins. There wasn’t pain, but there was discomfort. For at least the first mile, I had to force myself to keep going at that pace. After the first mile, it was fine. My takeaway with that was that I needed to be stretching before walking, just like I did when I was running. I’m also warming up. When I ran, walking was a warm up for me, so I didn’t think I needed to warm up if the only thing I was doing was walking. Big Mistake.
Revelation 2 – I was surprised at how much my butt hurt after two days of this. I mean, it really, really hurt. I hadn’t been expecting that. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s runner’s arrogance. There’s a thought that if you’re not running, you’re not really working out. Anything that isn’t a run is easy. I don’t mean things like cross fit, of course. Everyone knows cross fit is hard. But walking definitely seems like it would be easy in comparison to running. And walking at around a 3.5 pace is easy for me, but pushing it up to a consistent 4.0 gave me a pretty intense workout.
I’m incorporating strength training into my week. I’m not consistent with it yet, but I’ll get there. This year is all about happiness, and a healthy body contributes to a healthy and happy mind.
If you want to find out more about the benefits of ultra walking, check out this ultra walking link.
I’m looking for a race to sign up for, so if you know of one in the states, let me know in the comments.