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Get out there and walk

March 22, 2010
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Walking long distances is different that taking an afternoon stroll.  Speed is less important than proper technique and mental discipline.  The Avon Walk is 26.2 miles on Saturday and 13.1 miles on Sunday.  Yes, you will be walking a marathon followed by a 1/2 marathon.  There is a wealth of information on the AvonWalk.org website about training, including a number of plans depending on the amount of time you have before the walk.  The guide recommends that you walk at least 2.75 miles an hour if you plan to complete the entire 26.2 miles on Saturday.

In the past I have walked the New York route and have learned the following things:

New York City is NOT flat! ! ! !   For some unfathomable reason and despite living within 20 miles of the City my entire life, and having visited many times, I was under the impression that NY was flat.  During my first Avon Walk, I learned why Washington Heights and Brooklyn Heights are thus named.  They are high… OK, not Mt Everest high, but still there is a good upward grade that after walking for many hours may be challenging, it was to me.  Practices on hills.

The walk crosses at least two bridges.  The Manhattan Bridge has steps. The Brooklyn Bridge has some steps, too. And the worst set of steps are the ones leading up to the walkway crossing the East River to Randall’s Island.  These come at the very last mile of the walk.  Practice climbing some steps.

The walk winds its way through the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn.  The streets are not closed off for the walk.  You will be walking on sidewalks, which means that at the end of each block you will be greeted by a curb.  During the first hours of the walk, you will not notice the curbs. Towards the end of Saturday, at about mile 23, the curbs will all of a sudden appear to be 4 to 5 times their actual height.  Stepping down and then back up on the other side of the road becomes challenging when your thighs are screaming “NOOOooooo”.   Practice on roads that have curbs.

Having said all this, there is no Walk Police that will force you to complete the entire 39.3 mile route.  You are expected to listen to your body.  Transportation is provided at the rest stops along the route.  Rest Stops are positioned about every two miles along the route. If you can’t make it to a rest stop, you can wave down a Sweep Van.  The vans drives along the route looking for walkers in distress.  Don’t worry about not being able to spot the vans – they are decked out in pink and the crew inside is quite noisy as they cheer on the walkers.

From About.com, walking the right way can give you better health, fitness, and attitude. It can help you walk faster and more smoothly.  Walking the wrong way can lead to wasted effort or even injury.

10 Walking Mistakes to Avoid

1. Overstriding
2. The Wrong Shoes
3. Flapping, Slapping Feet
4. No Arms
5. Chicken Winging
6. Head Down
7. Leaning
8. The Wrong Clothes
9. Not Drinking Enough
10. Over training

Read about each of the ten items above: http://walking.about.com/cs/beginners/a/10mistakes1.htm

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