I started the Mayo Clinic’s 12-week walking routine today. Sure it was 15 minutes, but it ended my 10 months as a couch potato. Sweet! I’m following the routine to ease back into walking. I know from experience injuries happen when you go from zero to 60.
The routine is simple. The first week consists of a daily 15 minute walk: 5 minute warm up, 5 minute power walk, 5 minute cooldown. Every week you add 2 minutes to the power walk portion until week 7. From there on, it switches between 2 and 3 minute increases. At the end of 12 weeks, I’ll be walking for 40 minutes.
Before my walk, I stretched for 15 minutes to loosen my hip flexor, hamstring, glutes, calf, and lower back muscles. Walking on level ground doesn’t bother me. But my home is at the top of an incline and any direction I pick, it’s uphill on the way back home. And unstable hips don’t like going uphill.
There was a chill in the air, but I didn’t mind. It felt great to be outside despite the overcast sky. I did have a gear issue. At 32 degrees, I had to wear my big puffy coat, making the walk hotter than necessary. Because the chilly, wet weather is here until April, I may pick up a cheap, light jacket. I plan on being successful, which means I won’t be able to use it in the fall. No need to invest serious dollars into clothes I can only wear for a few months.
All right, enough of the jibber jabber. What’s my baseline to measure my January walks by?
The good news is, other than some muscle tightening, the walk was pain free. The stretching pre-walk was a good move. My ankles felt a little tight at the start but loosened up about a minute into the warm up. I just need to add in some ankle rolls to my stretching routine. My lower back started tightening midway through the power walking section. I paused my walk and did a standing lower back stretch, which hit the spot and let me continue my walk.
However, my tight ankles and back muscles clearly altered my stride. One mile is 2,000 steps. I walked 1,773 steps, which is slightly more than 3/4 of a mile. My Runkeeper app showed I’d walked a little less than 2/3 of a mile. That means my tight ankles and back muscles forced me to take shorter strides, resulting in 300+ additional steps for a shorter distance.
Bottom line: my core is too weak. A lot of my weight gain is in my midsection, and my core isn’t strong enough to handle it. Core work and dropping 5% of my body fat will fix my back problem. Working on my core and continuing my hip routine should help improve my stride.
When I look at the numbers, my desire is to try to beat the 24 minute mile. But that’d be a bad move. My best bet is to focus on distance first, time second. Speed will come as my body gets used to movement again. And speed means nothing if it’s physically hard to walk more than a mile. When it comes to getting back in shape, I’m the tortoise not the hare.
I have to admit that during my walk I didn’t really focus on my tightening back muscles or how hard walking up a slight incline felt. Only one thought dominated the walk: When can I start training for a 5k?
The hare wants to run free!