There’s more than one way to do a marathon—and every kind of victory is sweet.
JUST DO IT | Marathon walking is a pretty big deal right now, and it’s getting bigger because fitness fanatics who’ve been jogging their shins off are finding that while finishing a 42-km race may be an accomplishment, it isn’t necessarily the best thing for the body.
Injury brought me to marathon walking. Last year at this exact time I was gearing up to walk my first marathon in Portland, Oregon, in early October. My daughter and I had planned to do it together (nudged by our trainer Josh Allen), she running, me walking, but she had to back out at the last minute so I went solo and found myself walking with people of all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels.
Walking a marathon is a pretty neat goal. It’s an excuse to go places (Paris in 2011?), an activity you can do by yourself or with friends, and you don’t need any equipment to speak of. Walking a marathon won’t punish your body the way running one will, but unless you are solidly fit to begin with, you will need to train for it—and that’s going to take a chunk of time (three to six months of weekly walking, according to experts).
Walk Hard: Here’s How
You can join a walking group (both North Shore Athletics and the Running Room have great clinics), but I devised my own program. I was already working out pretty hard a few times a week, and on top of that I added a three-month once-a-week walking program. I wanted to make it super-easy on myself so I used Stanley Park for my training. Once around Stanley is 8.8 kilometres; four times around and you have almost completed a marathon. I chose this park because of its multiplicity of washrooms, water fountains and snack bars (for Gatorade top-ups, when necessary).
I won’t bore you with the details, but my schedule looked like this (each number indicates the number of times around the park each successive week): 1, 1.5, 2, 1, 2, 2.5, 3, 1.5, 3, 3.5, 4, 2, marathon. Since my objective was simply to finish, I never thought about how long it might take me. Next marathon I’ll have a time goal.
One of the things I liked best about training for my first marathon was walking around Stanley Park every week with music in my ears and my fearless Scottie-pug Dudley clipped to my waist, the two of us strutting on the seawall, enjoying what’s so drop-dead gorgeous about here.—C. Rule