Why I walk

One of the UCSF Clinical Research Fellows, ( my favorite one actually ), called me last night as part of my monthly research follow up. After we got done with the question and answers, I mentioned to her that I was thinking of take racewalking lessons. At first I don’t think she understood what I meant by racewalking . So then I said…You know….. that funky looking fast walking style? Then she finally got it. Her response was “Please be careful” and “I wish you would take it easy”.
I thought to myself.. She doesn’t sound very happy for me . Maybe she doesn’t understand how important this is to me. She’s always been somewhat cautious, but always supportive of my walking endeavors. So why now, does she seem less enthusiastic? I almost got the sense that she thought I was trying to prove something. In a way, it was like she was saying….OK, you’ve already done 3 half marathons, why do you to need continue to risk your health with this new racewalking thing?

Anyway, that conversation got me to thinking, Why AM I…. doing this. I’m 51 years old, I’m in pain all the time, I have crappy lungs. Why do I have to walk? Why don’t I start acting my age and start acting like someone with lung disease? Then this morning it dawned on me…. those are the very same reasons that I DO walk!

First of all, fitness walking gives me something to plan for and something to look forward to. Having a workout schedule puts structure into my days. And though it takes a lot out of me physically, when I walk, I feel alive. I feel like a normal person and I know I’m doing something good for my body. When I’m able to walk longer distances or walk fast or complete a race , it makes me feel even better about myself. Sure, I probably over do it at times, but that’s OK . I’m used to pain and I’m used to struggling for air. Those things are going to happen to me whether I exercise or not. I’m not just going to sit on my ass and feel sorry for myself because I have lung disease. I wanna do what other people do, despite my breathlessness.

Good or bad, I have an extremely high tolerance for respiratory discomfort and a special ability to do, what a lot of people in my situation, cant do. So I’m gonna take this gift if you will, and go as far as I can with it. (BTW ……..Today I walked 5 miles, huffing and puffing all the way. So there!)

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