A friend asked me a few weeks ago, “So why do you race walk?” Hmm, there are so many ways to answer that question, I will share a few of them here.
The first and ultimate answer is always “For God”. I see my race walking as an opportunity that God has given me, a talent that He has blessed me with, a path that He has laid before me. So I walk to bring Him glory. Some days there is amazing joy in my training and racing and other days it is a sacrifice and a chance for me to learn and grow, but it is all for God.
I race walk because most of the time it is a lot of fun. I am pretty much a creature of habit so anything I enjoy doing I will do again and again, and I think that is one of the big reasons that I am still training. There is a physiologic basis for why I enjoy sweating, exercise releases all of the “feel good” hormones that are responsible for combating stress and improving mood. This endorphin rush is known in the athletic world as the “runner’s high” and I think it plays a key role in keeping many athletes going on tough days.
Despite the enjoyment that comes with training, tough days are always going to be there. When training is seeming daunting I try to find ways to make it fun. My kids are great for that, I love getting them involved because they can always make me laugh and give me inspiration to keep going. I’ve had them throw water balloons at me as I go by, hand out drinks for me, or sometimes they will just stand in the driveway and cheer. One time my kids dared me to wear a mustache for a half-marathon race, I had no idea how many comments I would get along the way but it was so much fun.
I also enjoy the challenge of training and racing. There is always a new limit to push myself to, endless opportunities to test myself and better myself. Every day I can challenge myself to get more out of my training than I did the day before, physically or mentally. Some days the challenge is just to get the workout done. But I know there is always a way to grow myself in my race walking.
I realized as I was writing this that I don’t race walk for a lot of the reasons that I encourage others to engage in activity. I spend hours a day trying to engage others to get out and exercise for their health, for weight loss, for management of chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes. I know everyone has to find their own motivation. I challenge you to find yours, make it something that is going to be long-lasting and will keep you going on the rough days, something that you can fix your mind upon and will bring you joy in the journey.
Merry Christmas, wishing you the best of holidays!