Dumbbells in the gym

Walking is the new running

I love challenging myself – especially physically. But I wasn’t always like that. In school I was that kid being laughed at for being bad at sports, and that didn’t particularly trigger any interest in it. Most of my life I’ve hidden away and taken the easy path, crippled by self-doubt and fear of failure. I did try strength training when I was younger, and loved it, but wasn’t able to continue doing it for various reasons.

But then last year I started strength training again, this time with a coach. To begin with I went there because he’s also a massage therapist and can help with pain management, and I had problems with a shoulder which created problems with playing the guitar. But the first step was to start strengthening muscles.

This was in late February, and I started seeing results – even visible – after only 8 months, which kicked off a passion for fitness and training. I realised I could achieve something, even if “only” with my own body, it helped me build some self-confidence and I wanted to do more, so I decided to start running and later I added more strength sessions in the week.

Running? Nope.

If you follow this blog, you know that my running plans went down the drain after I had a stress fracture in the foot and then was diagnosed with osteoporosis.

But running taught me to challenge myself physically and I loved how it made me feel. That sense of achievement, showing myself that I could do something hard, combined with how it cleared my head and gave a boost of energy, it made me feel more alive, and I felt I was finally creating the person I wanted to be.

So, one of the most disturbing thoughts I had after being diagnosed with osteoporosis, was “Will I never be able to challenge myself again?”

I decided I had to find other ways to do it. Everything challenging doesn’t have to be high impact!

I can challenge myself in the gym – and I certainly do that and it’s even the most recommended activity for my condition. I now train three times a week with the same coach. These sessions are not easy! He makes sure I lift heavy enough and he also challenges my overthinking and tendency to worry about everything. My mental health can be quite shit at times, but when I’m in the gym I feel good and normal and that I kick ass. I need to learn to maintain that feeling outside of the gym.

I also challenge myself on the indoor bike, increasing distances, doing more uphills, competing with others (I use Zwift where I can join races and do group rides).

What about something that is related to running? Can walking replace running? Maybe.

Walking also allows you to get out in nature, get fresh air and enjoy the scenery while moving your body. And walking can have a challenging element too – speed, distance, terrain.

The Wicklow Ecotrail – let’s do it!

My wonderful husband knew that I needed a new challenge, that is bone-safe but still a good challenge, something to work for and look forward to.

So one evening, all of a sudden he had signed me up for a trail race!

Not for running, but for walking. This is a race with multiple distances to choose from, and it’s permitted to walk the shorter distances as long as you can finish within the assigned hours.

I’m going to walk the 19k, and as the name tells you, the race takes you out in the Wicklow mountain area which is one of the most scenic areas of Ireland, or so they say. From what I’ve seen on photos, this is going to be fantastic. The difficulty level is very unknown for the 19k! But walking in the forest? I can do that. I’ve done that before. It certainly can’t get any harder than the Lago di Penne fitness trail! (Although when I walked there, I was still in foot rehab so who knows)

The man himself is perhaps overly optimistic and has signed up for 47k. But we got early bird tickets for a good price and if he’s unable to do it he can downgrade or skip it without losing too much other than dignity.

For me, I now have a goal and focus again. My goal is always to continue building strong muscles, but now with the specific focus of building more balance, stability, single leg strength, foot strength, hip strength, core strength etc, and of course lots of walking! I’m still not back to walking 10k comfortably so on my non-gym days, walking will be a priority. Indoor cycling will happen but more for my mental health and when the weather is too bad.

Let’s do this!

2 responses to “Walking is the new running”

  1. Anne avatar

    Oh, you have made me want to find a trail race I can walk when the weather warms up! Thank you for inspiring me. I can’t run anymore, either, as you know, but that sounds like a lot of fun! (Yes, I am weird! :>)

    1. Susanne avatar

      I think that sounds wonderful! Just check first that they allow walkers – and perhaps (depends on you) if other people walk the race. You may not care whether you’re the only one walking though.
      I’m so looking forward to this. Now my wonderful husband has been looking at a half marathon and 10k the day before my birthday. That would be a lovely way to celebrate my birthday! It does seem that it’s only for runners… but we’ll see.

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