WINTER WALKING Being outdoors during the darker, chillier season is also good for your health and well-being. While walking in general is a great way to maintain fitness physically, it is also brilliant for boosting your feel-good hormones. Walking increases serotonin levels, which can help to prevent depression and the traditional autumn and winter blues.
The great thing about most Active Adult Communities is that they have sidewalks, walking trails, and plenty of places to walk. Plus many of your neighbors walk also. Good way to walk and talk and or solo walk while being close to home.
See the leaves and acorns in the above photo of the Deaton Creek Parkway. Those, especially when wet can get the strongest walkers on the ground in a hurry. One of our residents had a leg cast on this week because he fell on wet pavement. An walker who is a good friend slipped and banged his head on wet pine straw at the start of a race last Winter. He has had brain surgery. Just be careful. It can happen to you.
However the benefits of walking in Winter are many.
Winter walking plus-points
Colorful autumn scenery
Huge bright blue skies
Saying hello to neighbors
Wonderful crisp Winter weather
Beautiful misty mornings and golden sunsets
A walk on our community’s woodland trails
Warming hot chocolates after a day’s walk.
Dress warmly. Scarfs, hat, wind breaker, gloves, tights and undergarments, bright colors, thick socks, sunglasses, chap stick. All help.
Saturday, I did my race walking in the Lifepath 5K and ended up with this trophy that looks like an Academy Award plus a $25 gift certificate.
Sitting in the awards presentation room after the race, I didn’t expect to get an award because I was walking, not running, but it looks like I beat out two runners in my age bracket and maybe had the best age adjusted time for all age 60+ male participants. I am not really sure how they determined the Overall Senior Grand Master.
In any case the trophy did it’s magic. I posted the above photo on facebook and got a lot of likes and comments. It was nice bringing it home to show Mary Ann, especially telling her about the $25 gift certificate to Recess Gastro Pub. We just lunched there last week and loved it.
Developing A Passion For Walking
Don sent me a congratulations and it triggered memories of when I started walking. It was with Don, Lamont and myself at Park Place Active Adult Center in Johns Creek. We would walk the little over a mile loop of Newtown Park three times, a feat we accomplished a couple or three times a week for two years.
We would start out as social walkers and we always look forward to seeing each other and catching up. We talked about everything under the sun from cars,sports, old jobs, moving, travel, family, medical, current news, etc. Three guys sitting around a table would probably never talk about all the things we did, but there is something about walking and talking that makes it easier.
Walking as much as we did, we got pretty good shape. We were all about equal speed walkers but after the talking started to die down at the end of lap two, then Don would push us a little faster about the pond and we were off to the races.
So when the North Fulton Golden Games came along I though we should be a shoe in to win the walking contests. When the guy who was 10 years older than I was beat me by 20 yards in the half mile walk, well I was stunned. He was a little short guy that was 77!
Come to find out that he was race walking, which is a more efficient technique for walking fast. I researched race walking.
I convinced race walking coach and judge Jim Norvill to come over to Ocee Park a few Sundays to teach me how to race walk. It seemed complicated. It took me a while to learn, in fact I am still learning!
Race walking demands your full attention. You are always checking your walking technique. Are you looking straight ahead, shoulders down, arms swinging naturally at almost 45 degree angle, toes up at the heel strike, not over striding, rolling to a toe push off. You develop a cadence. Your body remembers the routine but you have to constantly check yourself.
With time you get better. You know your personal best and try to do better next time.
Fitness Walking Competitions
A competition is when you find out how you are doing. It’s something to look forward to and is motivation for your hours of practice. Competitions can be local, regional, national or international. Fitness Walking Competitions are given by local track clubs, the USATF (USA Track & Field), Senior Games (National Senior Games) and several other organizations. Race walking is an Olympic sport.
You hear people say they don’t like to compete anymore. I say give it a try. You always look from the perspective of competing with yourself (remember personal best). You are a winner for just getting out there and joining in.
But if you are lucky enough to feel the thrill of competing with others, you will experience something you thought you would never feel again, and it’s exhilarating. Some improve themselves to a level that they though was impossible.
Competitions also give you an opportunity to travel to the event and spend a few days in the area while you are there. Last year or two, I was in walking competitions in Minnesota, Albuquerque, Birmingham AL, Greensboro NC, Spokane WA as well as many around the state of Georgia. My friend Michael has been to walking completions in almost 50 states!
And finally when the competition is finished you will be happy that you gave it your best and motivated to do even better next time.
My walking competition schedule for the first half of 2018 is:
Jan 6 – Sat Braselton LifePath 5K – Done. 35:36
Jan 21 USATF SE Region Masters Indoor Race Walk Championship in Winston Salem NC. Registered for both 1mile and 3K.
Jan 26? Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville – Indoor Race Walk – Dates not confirmed
Feb 11 Sunday Indoor Race Walk 1500M Indoor Race Walk at Lakepoint in Emerson GA.
March – need event
April 7 Track Lab Series Lawrenceville GA 1500M RW in AM
April 14 Track Lab Series events in Lawrenceville GA 1500M RW in PM
April 21, 2018 ***Either the 5K or 10K in our 41st annual TD Bank Reedy River Run on Saturday, April 21, 2018 in Greenville SC.
May 16-19 South Carolina Senior Sports Classic 5K and 1500M Race Walks in Florence SC. Afterwards will head over to Myrtle Beach SC for vacation
May 27 12th Annual Mark Trail Memorial Day Meet – 3K RW
Discovery High School Lawrenceville GA
June 2-3, 2018 USATF SE Region Masters Outdoor Championships – 3K Race Walk in Birmingham, Al
July 26-29 National Outdoor USATF Masters Championship 5K and 10K Race Walks in Spokane WA. This is an outdoor event with all the track and field events. Afterwards taking a river boat cruise down the Snake and Columbia Rivers to Portland.