For the past few months Ive been timing some my longer tempo walks (walking at race pace) and the results are pretty much what I feared…..I’m getting slower! In just 3 years Ive slowed almost 40 minutes in the half marathon distance. In 2006 for example, I PRd (personal record) the SF half marathon with a finish time of 2:52. Earlier this year in Rome, Italy it took me 3 hrs 28 minutes to cover the same exact distance. In both of these races, I was breathing well and felt that I was walking as fast as I could. So whats going on here?
Is it because I’m getting older? Am I not as physically fit? Is my lung function having an impact on my speed? Is it because I’m unable to racewalk as much?. Could it be the shoes Ive been wearing?
It’s probably all of the above, but it’s very discouraging because I’m training harder, but getting slower.
And if slowing down isn’t bad enough, my weight is way up. Ive gained 5 lbs in just 3 months. Today I weighed in at 151 lbs! That’s the most Ive weighed in 2 years. My normal weight is about 144lbs , so Ive really ballooned up. Gaining 5 or 6 pounds may not sound like a big deal, but for every pound I gain, it makes it that much harder for me to breath.
Unlike my slower walking speeds, I take full responsibility for the weight gain. Some of it is probably due to all the steroids, but the bulk of it is from all the sugar and fat Ive been eating lately. I’m definitely giving up the Hot Tamales and the Jelly Bellies!
The slow walking thing on the other hand, is going to be a tougher nut to crack. I think one of the things that’s contributing to my slowness , is that Ive lost the “race” mentality that I had when I first took up this sport. Ive become lazy on the course…. a casual leisure type walker if you will. After all, I’m not a runner and will never be fast enough to win a prize or take home a trophy, so there’s really no incentive for me to push myself hard…right? In fact the opposite is true. I do marathons because I love the challenge. I deliberately walk a little slower than I’m capable of, because subconsciously there’s always that fear ( and justifiably so), that if I push too hard, that I will burn my lungs out and not be able to finish the race at all. There’s a delicate balance I have to maintain of walking fast enough where I don’t bore myself to death, and not walking so fast that I throw myself into respiratory failure. It’s much more difficult than one would think.
Let’s face it, walking or running 13 or 26 miles is difficult for everyone, even if you’re totally healthy. Ive just got to get a little bit of that competitive spirit back and not be so concerned about my breathing, but at the same time, not go crazy either. Just a little extra umphh on my part would probably make a heck of a difference in my finish times.
In addition to a mental tune -up, I’m also gonna start using my Garmin Forerunner again during my longer training walks. I think the instant feedback you get from these devices, forces you to keep your speed up.
It will be interesting to see how the slower and fatter me , does next weekend at the Rock&Roll half marathon.