Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What Are We Training For?

This afternoon, I walked with a friend who doesn’t walk as often as I do. As we walked, she commented on how much faster my pace was than hers and encouraged me to walk ahead of her. She suggested that I wasn’t “getting anything out of my walk,” and therefore shouldn’t be held back at her pace. I explained to her that I don’t need to walk fast or hard, I simply need to walk. In my thinking, any walk is a good walk, and any walk is training.

I walk all the time. And every time I walk, I think of it as a training walk. If it is just a mile or two, and the event is 10 months away, it is a training walk. If it is 15 miles, and the event is 3 weeks away, it’s a training walk. If I am wearing jeans and sneakers, it’s a training walk. If I am wearing all my walk gear, including a water bottle and a fanny pack, it is a training walk. You get the point, right? Every time I get my sneakers on and hit the pavement, I am training. Right now, I am training for my 12th walk (my 17th event, but crewing takes a different sort of training!). “My” 3Day is still almost 7 months away. And yet, I am training. Matt and I started training for the 2010 3Day as soon as we got home from the 2009 3Day.

Preparing for a 3Day walk takes lots and lots and lots of training. It’s not just about getting into good physical shape; it’s so much more. I think of it this way: to be ready for the 3Day, I must train my body, my head and my heart.

Train my body.
My feet and legs are going to do a lot of work in those three days. They deserve to build up to it. I have learned that my body really needs to be trained fresh year after year. Training gives my feet a chance to develop new calluses, and my leg muscles the time they need to gain the strength and endurance to go the distance. Training to walk also prepares parts of my body that can’t be trained any way other than with lots and lots of walking. For example, joints need lots of training. Given an average stride, my hip and knee joints will bend about 200,000 times each in those three days. Training for miles and miles beforehand gives them a chance to make all those bends without giving in or giving up.

Train my head.
The 3Day walk is a brainy event. I am thinking all the time out there. I’m meeting new people, hearing stories, seeing new places, and trying to focus on all of it. During my training walks, I am training my head at balancing all the opportunities that will come my way during the 3Day. When I am out on a training walk, I love to talk about past 3Day events or spend miles planning our current fundraising projects. We also try to watch the scenery around us, drawing one another’s attention to a bird or critter, or to try and find a bird based on its birdsong. Hours into a walk, my head can get tired and distracted, so I need to train myself to be focused and keep me, and those around me, safer on the actual event. Training walks prepare me for the many ways that my head will be engaged during the 3Day walk.


Train my heart.
This is probably the most important training for me, and possibly the hardest. My training walks are a chance to reflect on walks of the past, think about my reasons for walking, and prepare my heart for the work it will face during the 3Day.
I’m not talking about cardio-training, but rather about training my heart to handle the pressure that will grow inside my chest as I move through those three days. My emotions will ebb and flow from joy and elation to fear and sadness in an unpredictable unending circle. Each training walk is an opportunity to think about all the reasons I have for being a part of the 3Day, and to train my heart for the emotions of the event.

Here’s what I am training my heart to be ready for:

First thing in the morning, my heart will work hard as I see the smiling faces of total strangers waiting at the starting gate to cheer for the walkers. They’ll be yelling and handing out high-fives. All I’ll be doing is walking, and yet these people will make me feel like I am a true hero.

The day will move forward and before I know it, the young woman walking alongside me will call my heart into action. She’ll be telling me her story. She’s 20 years my junior and yet she has already lost her sister, her mom, and last spring, her breasts. And here she is walking in this event. My heart will be in full swing as she will stop, take my hand, and thank me (who she has just met) for my commitment. She will be thanking me?! Okay, heart – keep me moving.

After lunch, my heart will be taking a rest as I walk alone for a few miles. I’ll be dog-tired, my dogs will be barking and I’ll be looking dog-eared. The heat and exhaustion will be sinking through me, threatening to drag me to a stop. I’ll turn the corner and see a fire truck ahead. It’ll be a big, red hook and ladder, the kind that causes young kids to dream of being firefighters. This truck’s ladder will be fully extended and I’ll see a swarm of firefighters, spending their day off dressed in pink. They’ll have made a bursting fountain of cold water to soothe the tired walkers. As groups of icy walkers laugh and dance our way through this torrent of man-made rain, I’ll hear the firefighters chanting, “3Day Walkers save lives!” Totally refreshed, my heart will gladly carry me through the next several miles. Thank you, heart – keep me going.

At the end of a long day, my body and my head will have carried me about 20 miles, but it’s my heart that will soar as I see those pink gates welcoming me into the most beautiful city I have ever seen. It looks like miles of pink tents when you see camp at the end of the day, and that sight stirs my heart with far more emotion than one expects from tents. As I approach camp, I’ll feel aware of, and connected to, every story of every walker and every crew member waiting to be a part of my community for the night. Everyone I walk past has his or her own reason for being there. Maybe they’ve lost someone or maybe they’re celebrating that nobody close to them has been struck by this disease. Maybe they’re on this journey to test their fortitude, or maybe to rejoice that they have finished chemo. I wish I had time to hear every story. But at night, as I rest my tired body in the cocoon of my pink tent, I hear the murmurs of all the walkers around me, and my heart knows that their stories have become a part of who I am. My heart rests with this knowledge and sends me off to sleep to walk again another day. This is what I have trained for.

29 comments:

  1. BIG SIGH- I absolutley LOVED how you wrote this. THE BEST thing I have read all day. What a picture you painted.

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  2. Thank you for reminding me why I signed up for my second 3 Day while my body still ached from the first one.

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  3. Thank you for this post. It was incredibly...especially your last paragraph. I've tried to explain to people how I feel after the walk, why I keep walking, why I have to train as much as I do. And you've summed it up perfectly.

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  4. Thank you!! I'm going to direct my friends/family here so that they can "see" why I'm doing my 5th 3-Day in August!! Walk On!

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  5. Beautiful!!! THIS is why we walk. THIS is inspiration at its best. Thank you, everyone.

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  6. Lauri, This conveys so beautifully what so many of us feel. Like you, I've done multiple events, both walking and crewing, over a number of years. I still park far away from the store (part of my training, doncha know!), keep an extra pair of shoes and socks in the car just in case I feel like stopping and walking on the way home. And this year I'm crewing -- in two cities. But my heart is full every day -- both of the lives I've been privileged to share and the loneliness I feel from not having my dear friend with me. Thanks so much for this post.

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  7. I am very touched by the way you shared your thoughts. My first walk is in July and now I feel that I know a bit more of what expect. I also know that trainig my heart will be the most difficult part.

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  8. Thank your for sharing! I am training for my first walk in November! I've just been training my legs so far, I see I have other work to do :o)

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  9. Thank you for this priceless insight! This is my first walk... so much to wrap our heads - and hearts - around as we prepare.

    Joyce
    3dayspirit.blogspot.com

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  10. Dear dear friends! Thank you all for your kind comments. It means a great deal to me that my words are reaching and touching my fellow walkers and crew.

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  11. What an inspiring message and blog post. I'm volunteering as a crew member for the first time this year, and you really put the entire 3-day experience into a great perspective. Thank you.

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  12. Thank you for writing this. It will be my first year to walk in October in Washington D.C. and I can not wait to be able to say I have help make a difference and have stories if my own.

    I had a scare this past month but I am fine and realized how swiftly life can change. Thank you for your beautiful words.

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  13. thank you for that, as i train for my second 3day in Atlanta. I am excited and looking forward to my new memories, and new friends.

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  14. Love love love this! It was so well written, and I am training for my third 3day in Seattle!

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  15. Stunningly well written. Thank you for sharing this!

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  16. Beautiful post. This will be my first walk and this adds to my list of reasons of why I really want to do this.

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  17. I've just registered for my first walk, and now have a much better idea of the heart behind the training. Thank you for your willingness to share. Your blog is truly inspiring.

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  18. This will be my first 3Day walk, and has just inspired me more and more to train harder....with more than just my walking...it's taught me how to train with my mind and my heart. I look forward to my first walk...thank you so much for posting this!

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  19. Ok you got me on that one....Good post with lots of heart

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  20. What a great post! I am right there with you every step of the way as I begin training for my third walk....thanks for the inspiration!

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  21. thanks for your beautiful expression of why, and how this all comes together, this is my first and my "training" has thus far consisted of a one walk to Michael's with a ride home due to the purchase of a large frame and really in depth pedicure today... the days ahead are going to bring the big and small "training" days but nothing will really prepare us for the real thing huh? I appreciate the window into the reality and the inspiration of what's to come....

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  22. You made me remember why I am doing this whole thing all over again. You made me smile and cry. Thank you!

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  23. Beautiful expression of what it really takes. This is my third and I am so happy to have read it. I will be sure to pass this along to my team. All 5 are 1st-time-walkers and I am so happy to have them join the 3-day family.

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  24. Beautiful! You have gotten me so excited for my fourth event. You captured the spirit of this experience perfectly. See you on the road!

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  25. Thank you for your beautiful story. I am training for my first 3day and you have given me inspiration. God Bless you!

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  26. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am a first-time walker. My teammate and I have been training since January. I am excited for the 3 day journey that lies ahead in November! I will be thinking of your inspiring words every step of the way.
    Thank you!
    -Pam

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  27. What a gorgeous and inspiring post! This is my first year doing the 3 Day and I'm thrilled to be a part of it. Thank you for posting this.

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