So much for walking long distances, the real challenge for me, even at short distances, is increasing my pace.. This has been the most frustrating aspect of my training. Not only do I want to walk far, I want to walk fast. I also like to incorporate certain elements of racewalking , which in itself is more physically demanding then freestyle fitness walking.
When I first started my ” routine walks”, I had to guesstimate my pace, based on start and finish times and by using one of those cheap step-pedometers. The total distance of the course was always the same but, the the numbers on the pedometer were different every time. Very Frustrating! Then I purchased a Garvin Forerunner ( GPS) monitor , WOW..no more guessing. This thing is incredibly accurate. No more calculations or guessing. Extremely accurate, these devices are a must- have for serious distance walkers.
Anyway, back to pacing.. During the past 18 months I’ve been able to increase my average pace from 19 min/mile down to 14min/mile without breaking a sweat. Again, this is based on a my routine 5 mile walk and on a good breathing day. Because of my lung problems, I cant increase my pace beyond the 14 min mark without risking a possibly lethal asthma attack.
Unlike your average asthmatic, I’ve had this disease for nearly a half century and its done a lot of irreversible damage to my lungs. The problem is, as I exercise and exert myself, I can’t exhale fully enough to catch the next breath in . As a result, the faster I breath, the more air I trap inside my lungs. My lungs literally start to blow up like a balloon..getting larger and larger with every breath. Eventually this “air-trapping” causes increased pressures in my chest to the point where blood vessels leading back to my heart are compressed. Needless to say..This is not a good thing. Anyway this phenomena seems to occur mostly when I increase my pace. The faster the rate of increase, the worse the symptoms. To some degree I experience these symptoms even at slower paces especially after the 5 mile mark.
With each walk , I try to self evaluate my breathing patterns at different paces and distances. I try to adjust and regulate as needed, so that I can conserve my breathing capacity to get me to the finish line without keeling over.