By Bonnie Stein, M.Ed.
Some people always have an excuse for why they can't exercise. It's too hot, too cold, too dark, too rainy, or too humid. Three days a year the conditions are perfect for them to exercise. Then there are those who have too many kids, too busy a job, or too hectic of a travel schedule. The truth is that we all have the exact same amount of hours a day. It's just a matter of how we choose to spend those hours.
Here are few tips that have worked for me since 1984 when I started racewalking and also some ideas from my racewalking students with busy careers, business travel schedules and/or kids. They share tricks for fitting in their racewalking workouts. Their tips might help you.
VISIT THE LIBRARY – Check out books on tape that you’ve always wanted to “read.” They’re free and there are hundreds of titles. Only allow yourself to listen to the tapes when you’re racewalking. You’ll look forward to getting out the door to hear the next chapter.
GET A PARTNER – Currently I have plenty of racewalking partners. But there was a time back in 1984 when I begged my friends to let me teach them racewalking, just so I’d have someone to racewalk with. It works like a charm. You won’t miss a workout because you won’t want to disappoint your walking buddy.
MAKE A STOP ON YOUR WAY HOME FROM WORK
Dottie Manley, age 65, of Clearwater says that she takes her exercise clothes to work with her. After work, she heads straight to a park and does 3-4 miles before heading home. Dottie says there are too many distractions if she goes home first. The phone rings, there's e-mail to check, mail to read. "If I get my racewalking done on the way home, I know it's done. Then I have the rest of the evening to do what I want." For Dottie - that means Tap dancing one night and line dancing another night. She also fits in weights now and then. Dottie went from a size 12 to a petite size 8 within 4 months of racewalking regularly.
EXERCISE WITH YOUR KIDS, EVEN IF THEY DON’T RACEWALK
Daisy Phanord, age 40, lives in Fort Lauderdale with three kids, (8 year old twins, a 13-year old daughter) and her husband. Daisy has a part time job, church obligations, and is involved with the PTA. Her kids are very busy with sports so she takes advantage of that time by taking her racewalking shoes, shorts, towel, dry clothes in the car to practices. While the kids do their sports, Daisy racewalks around the park or soccer field.
She says it doesn’t matter if it’s hot, humid, rainy, or sunny. “My kids know I have to get in 25 miles a week. Sometimes I take the twins and their bikes or skates around the neighborhood and do 4 miles. We all have fun and I get in my workout. I also have a treadmill so some mornings I get up at 5 AM to racewalk, then take the kids to school, and go to work. Any little time I can, I fit in my racewalking miles. It all adds up. It is not easy but it is very important for me, and I let my family know that.”
WATCH JEOPARDY – GO WALKING
"What gets measured, gets done" is the trick for Thom Holloway, age 53, of Seminole, Florida. “There's nothing quite like having it down in black and white that you are supposed to be out walking. It works as a reminder not to get pulled into something else (e.g. ‘Sorry, I can't come to your Tupperware party, I have something on my calendar already.’)”
Thom says, “I hate giving up daylight hours which are necessary for completing some chores or working on my 1950 Chevy. I prefer to racewalk after dark when it's cooler and when I can't be doing anything else anyway. I tie my walks to one of my favorite TV shows. I watch Jeopardy from 7:30 - 8:00 PM. During the commercial breaks, I change into my walking clothes, prepare my water bottle, get CDs for my Walkman, etc. As soon as the Final Jeopardy is answered, I head out the door. By linking the two together, it becomes a habit.
TRACK WORKOUTS WITH TOYS
Thirty-two-year old Peggy Johnson of Athens, Georgia had a 4 and 5 year old to contend with. She'd put them on a blanket with a bunch of toys in the middle of the local high school track and do 3 miles (or as long as they'd behave). The rules were that they had to stay inside the track. If they didn't interrupt her for her whole racewalking workout - the three of them would go for frozen yogurt after her walk. If she had to stop even once to discipline them - no yogurt. Peggy was able to get in a workout at least three times a week this way. On weekends, she'd go out in the neighborhood while her husband watched them at home. Peggy lost 27 pounds her first year of racewalking. That's with the yogurt!
JUST DO IT!
There are few racewalkers busier than 49-year old William Cobb of St. Petersburg, Florida. William is a Colonel in the army and spends 3 days a month in Washington DC. He also is a Vice President of a data communications company in Florida and travels 40-50% of the time for business. When I interviewed him, William had just returned from two weeks in Japan. No matter where he is, William still racewalks or runs for 40 minutes everyday. He allows 75 minutes for the warm-up, workout, cool-down, and stretching.
William suggests finding a time during the day that is consistently yours. In his case it is from 4:00 -6:00 AM. “Just find a time that people are not going to interrupt or usurp your time. Commit to doing the program for at least three weeks. Just Do It! No excuses! If you do it for three weeks consistently, you’ll probably do it for the rest of your life. It takes your body and mind three weeks to internalize a habit. Exercise is a habit, once you’re into it.”
William suggests trying some races. “Races make good goals for improving your fitness. Plus, they are fun and it is a neat way to get new T-shirts. Finally, races are a nice change of venue. The key to life-long exercise is doing new things and exercising in new places. On Sundays, I find a new place to run or racewalk. Don’t always racewalk in the same neighborhood. Explore the parks or beaches around your house. You’ll be surprised what you’ll find.”
You might just find a renewed motivation to stay fit.