Confession time: I may be a walking coach now, but I used to quietly turn my nose up at the idea of walking for a workout. I’d see walkers briskly strolling the neighborhood with gal pals, but I was not having it. I was too busy burning fat and calories in high-impact aerobic classes with other real exercisers (in thong leotards, too. What were we thinking?!).
So, what changed? It started with knee pain while I was training for a half marathon. I did what my docs mmr suggested: rest, ice, PT. Nothing worked, except the kibosh I put on my dream of running a marathon for my 30th birthday. Instead, I signed up for the Avon 3-Day, 60-mile Breast Cancer Walk, which I thought was a consolation prize. Lo and behold, that disappointment turned into a life-changing experience that — much like Campowerment — altered my outlook on how to walk my way through life.
On that 60-mile path, I met walkers of all ages, shapes, and sizes. Some extremely fit, others out of shape, and still others in the midst of or just having completed treatment for breast cancer. Unlike the running events I had previously experienced, I got to connect with people in real, meaningful ways. Together, we walked and talked, sharing our stories; it was a very emotional experience that inspired me to reshape the way I lived.
As the Fitness Director at Prevention Magazine, I’d hear a lot from women who walked for exercise but were frustrated because they weren’t losing weight, lowering their blood pressure, or getting as fit as they had hoped. So they’d abandon walking for running, P90X, Insanity, CrossFit, or some other intense workout.
Now, I have nothing against any of these results-oriented workouts, as long as they’re approached sensibly. But too often, I’d hear of women getting injured or hating it so much that they’d quit—never reaching their goals. Many of them gave up exercising altogether.
And so, I began to coach walkers: to help women take an exercise they often love and teach them how to get the results they want from it. My philosophy: if you’re going to kick your butt working out do it with an activity you enjoy.
So if walking is your thing and you want a fat-blasting, not-for-wimps workout, I’m here to show you how to do it. Walking.
When you crank up the pace, you can burn as many calories as a runner does. At speeds above 4.5 mph (under a 13.5-minute-per-mile pace), walking starts to outpace running at similar speeds. Yes, that is fast, but it’s definitely doable with some technique and training.
One of my clients, Rebecca, who’s 43, took 16 minutes and 23 seconds to complete a mile when I started training her in September. By November, she was walking a mile in 13 minutes and 12 seconds! (That’s a good, brisk pace…and she lost 11½ pounds and 6¼ inches along the way.)
Picking up the pace amplifies all of walking’s awesome benefits, and the faster you go, the quicker you’ll complete your workouts.
Three ways to speed up and get fitter than you’ve ever been, by walking. No equipment required:
Power up your posture. Keep that front leg close to you—not reaching out too far ahead. Short, quick steps—not long lumbering ones—are how you go faster. So no more excuses if you have short legs. (The female racewalker who won gold at the Olympics last year stands 5’3”, and she averaged a 7.5-minute-per-mile pace.)
Let your arms work for you. Lose the flowing arms and bouncy steps. Bend your arms and pump them like you mean it. Forward and back—not across your body or winging them out to the sides. Once your arms and legs are in sync, they can propel you forward. That’s when the magic happens.
Practice intervals. You’ll burn more calories and get fit faster when you add some short speed bouts to your walks. Simply alternate your normal pace with a faster one for 10 to 60 seconds. The shorter the interval, the harder you should push yourself. Then recover for at least twice as long at your normal pace. So if you do a 30-second fast interval, take 60 seconds or more to recover. When you do your fast interval, count your steps. Remember your number, and then on your next fast interval, try to beat it, even by just one or two steps. Track your number over time to see your progress.
Give it a try and let me know how you do!
And if you really want to challenge yourself (or just have fun with your camp buddies), join me and some of your camp friends in training for and walking a half marathon this spring! Here’s the scoop:
Event date: April 15, 2018
Event location: Atlantic City, NJ
You’ll train, starting Jan 2nd, wherever you are–but with lots of virtual support from the team! Then, we’ll meet in Atlantic City to do the April Fools Half Marathon. Most of the 13.1-mile route is oceanfront and on the boardwalk.
Cost: $249.99–that’s less than $2.25 a day!
This includes: comprehensive 16-week training schedule; weekly email & text support; invitation to an exclusive Facebook group to share your experiences, get inspiration, and meet your teammates (all Campowerment campers); expert training tips & advice; “Walkers are athletes, too!” t-shirt; and a cheering squad!
Not included: Event entry fee ($75 before Nov 1st, progressively increases up to $110 on race day), travel, hotel, meals
Yes, you can train with us and not do the event!
Yes, you can train with us and do another event that better fits your schedule!
Yes, you can train with us if you want to run or walk/run the half instead!
After our May 2014 Campowerment in the Poconos, lotsa girls asked me to help train them, and, despite blustery race conditions, they crossed the finish line arm-in-arm and smiling (See pic @ top of post!)…