Whether you're simply walking for fitness or thinking about trying a marathon, keep the following in mind and you're bound to succeed:
- Learn about fitness and nutrition. Knowledge is power. Understanding the body—how muscles work, what exercise does and how food becomes fuel—is key to reaching any fitness goal.
Set goals. Working toward a goal should be something to anticipate, not dread, each day. Ask your physician to help you choose a realistic objective.
If your goal is to walk 2 miles a day, here's an easy way to get started. Hop in your car, drive 1 mile away from home and note the location. Then walk to that point from your home and return… and you'll have walked 2 miles. Gradually increase your total mileage and walking speed.
Sign up for a marathon. As your strength increases, register for a 3-, 6- or 13-mile event. Do it just for the experience. Review the route and create a game plan. Stick to it no matter what and participate at your own pace.
For your first 26-mile marathon, choose one that is "walker friendly" and keeps its finish line open for at least 7 hours. That way, you'll have plenty of time to complete the course.
- Keep it fun. Find ways to motivate and entertain yourself during the marathon. Dedicate every marathon mile you walk to someone. Keep a dance card in mind with a person's name on it for each mile you complete. That makes every step you take even more of a personal achievement!