May 4th 2011….Human Connection…as a marathon training technique?!

Session Time: 48 minutes
Distance Covered: 3.32 miles

Total Time: 16 Hours 47 minutes
Total Distance Covered: 82.8 miles

So the last couple of days I have been dealing with the aftermath of my marathon session on Monday…and let me tell you, it hasn’t been pretty.

Since yesterday my legs have officially gone on strike, even with all the stretching I’ve been doing.

The word “Ow” is very appropriate, and has been uttered a lot.

I was fine while I kept moving, but every time I stopped for any period of time when I finally got moving again my legs decided they weren’t going to play ball…which has generally left me closely resembling a combination of an 80 year old person, a robot and a human being with very little balance.

The upside was that it has caused great hilarity to those around me…most notably my sister who descended into fits of giggles every time I got up from a chair and attempted to walk a few paces.

So the good news was that I DEFINITELY worked myself on Monday.

The bad news was that when I work up this morning the pain in my shin had returned and I did not see any way at all that I would be able to train.

So I thought about it for a bit, and decided that I really wanted to do something to continue to build on the achievement on Monday.

If I wouldn’t be able to run (a quick jog on the spot put paid to that idea with screams of pain from my shin!), then I would try power walking instead.

From a recent health day I attended I knew that to be exercising aerobically I needed (for my age group) to be working at somewhere between 139 and 149 beats per minute.

So with training buddy still chained to his desk, Bubba and I grabbed the heart rate monitor and hit the streets.

Now, I don’t know if any of you have ever tried power walking…but I learned a few important things today:

  • It is actually a real challenge to raise your heart rate to between 139 and 149 beats per minute…it’s no coincidence that power walkers pump their arms so much while they’re doing it!
  • It is REALLY difficult to stop yourself from running when trying to raise your heart rate to between 139 and 149 beats per minute.
  • When you get your heart rate up to between 139 and 149 beats per minute it is a challenge to keep it between those two points.
  • Power walking works a whole different set of muscles to running…but it does still really work them (new muscles in my legs were shouting “Hey, what’s this all about?!”)…it’s no walk in the park (get it? 😉 )
  • Other factors can play a part in getting your heart rate to the desired level.

Other factors? What “Other Factors” I hear you say…

Well…it’s funny you should ask.

Because on today’s party session I was in a particularly good mood. The sun was out, Tony was blasting in my ears and I felt GREAT.

As I was out pounding the pavements, since wasn’t having to focus as much on how I was running (just on going quick enough to get the heart rate up to where it should be!) I had a bit more time to think.

For some reason while I was out today I couldn’t get the phrase “If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours” out of my head…well, today this was my mission.

I was feeling great and I wanted to share that feeling with everyone I came across.

So my regular bursts of “Morning!!!” combined with a grin which wouldn’t have looked out of place in a 1950s Colgate commercial were even more enthusiastic 😀

(The move that will hereafter be known as the MCGC…or “Morning / Colgate Grin Combo”)

…and this morning I noticed something.

A lot of people who were out and about early on looked really quite down. Some would say preoccupied, some would say depressed, some would say they looked downright miserable.

I guess because I was walking rather than running I noticed this more than I usually do – I had more time to see their faces.

But this wouldn’t deter me…in fact, if anything it made me all the more determined to share my bouncy, happy, fun state of mind.

So every person I saw got a cheery “Good morning” and a Colgate grin.

…and I noticed something funny…

Even the people who looked the most down couldn’t help but respond in some way.

Some muttered a little ‘morning’ into their boots, some gave a little flicker of a smile as they carried on staring out the pavement and some gave me the most fantastic of smiles in return.

What was really interesting about this was that every time I felt that little surge of energy from connecting with someone else in some way (which made the Colgate grin even BIGGER)…my heart rate also went up.

The better I felt as I was training…the easier it was to stay in my desired heart rate range…and the easier it was to keep up the fast pace even when the muscles in my legs had started to shout at me!

There were several examples today which just confirmed this brilliantly, but there were three in particular that really stood out for me:

  1. About 2/3rds into my run I saw a little old lady coming towards me walking a little white Scottie dog. This woman looked so very unhappy. She was focusing all of her energy on a spot on the floor about 30 cms in front of her, her shoulders were hunched, she was down in the mouth and she looked so completely and totally depressed. As I walked past her and hit her with my best Morning/Colgate Grin combo, even though she didn’t look up, for a brief moment her entire face lit up. She mumbled a little ‘morning’ which probably wasn’t even loud enough for her dog to hear, and although she didn’t even look at me, I could see the tiny difference it had made to her morning. My heart beat jumped up when this happened …I felt great to have been able to give her just a little smile on what looked like an otherwise less than good morning.
  2. Near the end of my run as most of you now know I pass Stuart the friendly lollipop man…well today as I passed him I requested a high five…with a beaming smile he happily held his hand high and wished me a great day as I powered on. Again, my heart rate jumped…not only at the event itself…but also at the anticipation. I KNEW that he would oblige my silliness…and I KNEW he’d get as much out of it as I did. All the way down the road to his little spot my heart rate was refreshingly easy to maintain…and for a good while afterwards too.
  3. But by far my favourite event of today, and the one that demonstrates this so beautifully, was about half way through the session when I passed an older couple walking two dogs. I gave them my very best MCGC (Morning Colgate Grin Combo) and patted one of the dogs on the head as I went past. As I was passing them the woman said something to me – unfortunately she was no match for Tony Robbins who was blaring in my ears, so I took out my earphones, turned back to her and asked her what she had said. “Where do you get all your energy from?”, she asked. On an impulse I threw my arms around her and gave her a great big hug, turned to the man who was with her and gave him a huge hug too, turned back to her and simply said “By hugging random strangers!!!” with a Colgate Grin that could have lit up a small village on a cold winter’s night. Both of them were beaming and laughing (as was I!) as I wished them a great day and went on my way. I looked down at my heart rate and it had had a Teeny Tiny Tigger bounced all the way up to the mid 150’s – Yay! 😀

What really struck me today was how much people seemed to want to connect, and really got a lot out of it when they did…but didn’t seem comfortable, or able to initiate it. When the opportunity was given to them most people responded with a genuine positive reaction…which spurred me on even more, inspired me to push that little bit harder with my training and made the whole experience fantastic.

When I got back to the house I was absolutely FLYING! I felt incredible. 😀

…and I could feel in my legs that I had had a real workout too!


What is interesting about this is that I have recently been asked to get involved with a TEDx event, called TEDxCalicoCanyon happening in Las Vegas in January, the very theme of which is “The Human Connection”. TED is an online community dedicated to the spreading of thought provoking ideas which are in their words “Ideas Worth Spreading”. TEDx events are independently organised events which are designed to stimulate dialogue around ideas of this nature. The main reason that I decided to get involved in this event is this very concept of “The Human Connection”, the route to which is evolving every day through new technologies, facebook, twitter, blogging (!) etc. (though I’m a firm believer that we need to maintain the more traditional forms as well!)

What I found fascinating on this morning’s session was that creating real human connections (however brief), even with random strangers, actually fuelled my training…and helped me to maintain the goal of making it around my whole 3.32m session without slowing down from my power walk once AND maintaining my heart rate while I did it!! Food for thought I think…

One other thing that I feel compelled to mention is a blog post I saw about walking as a form of exercise. The headline was simply “Walking is not exercise“. Now as is often the case with these things, they put a big controversial headline up to grab attention…and the actual content is not as black and white. The core points the writer was making were:

  1. Most of us walk as a part of living, so unless living is considered exercise then the original statement was true.
  2. It is very hard to keep your heart rate up above 120-130 by just walking.
  3. Exercise and working out must be progressive and include the overload principle (which basically says that you need to push your muscles beyond that which is comfortable in order for them to continue to strengthen and grow).

So, my responses to these three points based on today’s experience are:

  1. It’s true…most of us walk as part of a living, but few do over three miles in one session at a particular (speedy) pace…so yes, if you’re considering your little wander from the sofa to the fridge walking as a form of exercise, then you’re probably mistaken, but if it is done in a way that is significantly above and beyond that which you would do in a normal day (in terms of distance and speed) then I think it can be classed as exercise.
  2. I agree 100% it IS very difficult to keep your heart rate up above 120-130 by just walking…but it IS possible…I’m living proof. Hug a few strangers along the helps.
  3. I completely agree…it does very much depend on your current level of fitness as to whether walking (at any pace or distance!) would really push you…BUT as I have discovered, it can be a good way of maintaining a routine of exercise which otherwise you might not have been able to complete without risking injury. Plus as it works different muscle sets, it’s probably good to add in every now and again to balance out the workload and ensure all your muscles are getting a fair piece of the pie.
  4. My final point is that if someone is not exercising at all then to dismiss walking as “not exercise” is to diminish their achievement if they are using it as a way to build a fitness regime by building up from a standing (literally!) start. At the end of the day, people should be supported and encouraged if they are trying to improve their fitness in whatever form that takes. Many people have used walking as a good starter to get their bodies and minds used to some form of physical exercise, to kick off a move to a healthier lifestyle, begin to lose weight and to finally build up to other more intensive forms of exercise. Any move in this direction should be encouraged in my book – if you feel that you are getting a physical or mental benefit from it then that’s what matters. What I would say to people though is to push past what you believe is possible. When I started this whole crazy marathon training idea I literally could not make it to the end of the road without hyperventilating. But by sticking with it and pushing myself way beyond what I ever thought I would be able to do I’m 82.8 miles down the road and I’m only getting started. The only way to know where your limits are is to try and push past them….then you’ll see how far you can REALLY go! 😀

..and following my happy dance my legs can DEFINITELY confirm, that walking IS exercise 😉

Oh and if YOU see someone without a smile today…give them one of yours 😀

Another step closer x

About Claire Brummell

Founder and creator of The Universal Needs transformational methodology
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5 Responses to May 4th 2011….Human Connection…as a marathon training technique?!

  1. Pingback: May 6th 2011….Power walking to Fire walking: the next step… | Training for a marathon…and having fun too?

  2. Pingback: May 11th 2011….Human Connection, Part 2… | Training for a marathon…and having fun too?

  3. Pingback: August 25th 2011…Firewalking and Globe-trotting… | Training for a marathon…and having fun too?

  4. Pingback: August 25th 2011…Firewalking and Globe-trotting… | Training for a marathon…and having fun too?

  5. Pingback: September 19th 2011…A Run for Alice Pyne… | Training for a marathon…and having fun too?

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