Walking the Big Sur Coastline

April 27, 2015

   It was time again for the Big Sur Marathon. Due to a sprained toe 8 weeks ago I decided not to do the 21 mile power walk this year. I hope by sharing my past experiences with you I can inspire you to walk a little more. The first time I took up this lofty challenge was in 2003. I was looking for a new goal to achieve and a friend had shared the amazing views as she walked this road the year before. Once hooked I participated in this event for the next 10 years including running the marathon twice.

   Why... you ask? Well, if you know me I love to work toward a pre-set goal. Yes, I'm goal oriented and along the way I've recruited friends and acquaintances to join me. Thank you Carlotta, Marcia, Cathy, Diane and Karen!

   The training walks tell us a lot about how we deal with challenges--every week adding miles, which strengthens our hearts, legs and psyche. They truly reveal our strengths and weaknesses, helping us to understand more about ourselves. The time spent pounding the pavement and on the trails gives me a chance to think about my life, my choices and what I am struggling with and grateful for as well as enjoy the beautiful scenery.

   When do I train with my busy schedule? After work, before work or at lunch, just getting out with the pedometer tracking my miles. Each small accomplishment adds up to that final goal.

    Studies show daily exercise contributes to a healthier and longer life. Walking is a simple way to achieve this. Minimal equipment is required and unless you live somewhere that has tons of snow on the ground year round you really can walk anywhere anytime.

   As I've walked the Big Sur coastline I am in awe of the beauty of my surroundings. The sun rises over our beautiful Pacific Ocean as the race begins. At about mile 8 I realize how beneficial my training was and at the top of cardiac hill I am greeted by the grand piano man celebrating this first victory dance. By mile 13 my body begins to feel the aches and pains of my age--quitting is not an option though. This is when that mental strength kicks in. I hydrate more, eat a little something for energy, take some deep breaths and forge on. By mile 16 I realize I'm almost there and the hula dancers and drummers along the route encourage me on.

   The last 2 miles are a long, gradual downhill and I actually get a small burst of energy pushing me through finish line. The endorphin rush and feeling of accomplishment along with the fatigue from being on my feet for 4 1/2 hours and getting up at 5:30 AM don't drag me down. This is what I've worked so hard for. Not just another medal but yet another way I've worked hard to maintain my chosen lifestyle of being able to do whatever i want to because physically I can.

   How do you get started? Put on comfortable walking clothes, a good pair of cushioned socks, supportive shoes and an extra layer. Set a time limit, say 15 minutes (30 minutes is the recommended daily amount 6 days a week ), and walk out that door with great intent. You'll be amazed how good you feel breathing the fresh air and working off the frustrations of your day. Get together with some friends. Designate a meeting place and time and plan a weekly walk together. Time will fly as you solve the world's problems and each other's. The camaraderie that builds is an added bonus.

   Maybe set a goal to walk 2 miles in 30 minutes. The faster pace will strengthen your heart and burn calories. Writing down details about how long and how far you went on each workout and how you felt while you were on the road will help you draw confidence seeing how far you've gone. The next day's workout won't seem as intimidating when you see how much you've already accomplished. Remember to get clearance from your physician first especially if you have any health issues.
   Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after walking. Incorporate a warm up before you start and end your walk with a slower cool down pace and good stretch. It will help with injury prevention. 

   Happy Walking and I hope to see you out there!