As anyone who knows me will tell you, I have traveled all over the fitness map. Sometimes there’s a plan. Other days, not so much. But, I have learned from experience that setting a long term goal that is a real stretch (pun intended) is often the motivation I need to keep up my exercise or walking practice. It works for me. Every time.
Way back when I was a young 49 year old mostly-couch-potato, I read an article about Team in Training and marathon walking. Intrigued, I explored this opportunity to train with a group and walk or run in marathons all over the world while raising money for a great cause. Sometimes I tend to jump without worrying about the details like “How far is 26.2 miles anyway”? In I jumped! I set a goal to walk the Honolulu Marathon for my 50th birthday. I was committed. I walked every day starting with two miles that first week and ending my last training walk with a 22 miler from my front door in Lake Oswego to my sister’s house in Hillsboro, Oregon. Two weeks later, I was on a plane ready to take on the full 26.2 in Honolulu. And I did it. And I never walked another marathon again.
But I did keep on walking. Usually by myself. Until recently, this was the typical evening conversation at our house. Me: “Honey, want to go for a walk with me?” Hubby: “Umm, No thanks.”
But that all changed exactly one year ago when I began hatching my plan to do something memorable for my 65th birthday at the end of August. I wanted to walk the last 65 miles of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (The Way of St. James) in Spain. I discovered a walking tour company, Marly Tours, who provide support for those of use who do not want the full Pilgrim experience (carrying everything on your back, sleeping on the ground and/or sleeping in hostels with 300 others in bunk beds). I was so excited about this idea that my enthusiasm spilled over onto my husband. Suddenly, he wanted to join me on walks. Perfect! Last Fall, we began planning our weekends around walking or hiking. We have explored most of the City of Portland Oregon on foot and we’ve recently branched out to local hikes like the The Ten Falls Hike. We’re up to 8 to 10 miles on Saturday and then another 6 or 8 on Sunday. Always with a stop for lunch. We call it jogging for doughnuts.
Not too bad for a couple of almost senior citizens. On the Camino, we’ll be walking our 100km over 5 days. We don’t know the terrain, but I’m told to expect everything from country lanes to farmers fields to hill climbs to city streets. We walk 13 miles the first day! Then we get up and do it again the next day, whether we’re ready or not. Whether we’re tired or not. Whether our feet hurt or not.
I can’t wait to get started!
Setting this long term and very large goal, has changed our lives. We walk every day. Hubs joined the gym. We walk for entertainment. We enjoy our time together. We’re active people again and I don’t see that ending anytime soon. In fact, we’re already thinking about walking through England or Italy next.
See you on the trail!