When I was 22 I was injured while playing basketball and had to have a serious operation on my knee. At the time my orthopedic surgeon said I would have trouble with my knee sometime between the age of 55 to 60.
He was right.
In my 40s I injured my hamstring running rather badly and stopped running. I quit running for 10 years and ballooned up to 285 pounds (I’m 6’2”).
Then on April 15, 1995, I was diagnosed with diabetes. The doctor said, “lose weight!”
Three days later I participated in my first racewalking clinic and was hooked.
I heard of USA FIT Denver through word of mouth. My daughter was one of the marathon coaches at the time and told me about the racewalking (and the power/speed walking) program. I joined in 2003 and have been a member since.
I’m a goal-oriented person so setting out awesome challenges beyond just exercising was essential. Being with others made the rigors of training so much more tolerable. After training on Saturdays, we always have coffee and/or breakfast together. We talk about training but because we’ve become friends over the years we also catch up on each other’s lives.
In 2013 I became the walking coach when the previous coach retired. My two favorite parts of the season are the beginning when new people join, and then when group members select races, they want to participate in.
USA FIT DENVER trains walkers for 5ks, 10ks, half and full marathons. Because the average age of our walkers is 61 many prefer not to do a half or full marathon, so we offer training for 5k and 10k races. It’s important to have a goal to train towards, rather than just training for training’s sake. The shorter races are more feasible for some of our members and they enjoy doing them together.
One of the most motivating aspects of USA FIT Denver is the camaraderie and training weekly with other people who have similar goals. People in the walking group train at an acceptable pace for themselves yet challenging aerobically: some members train at 13-minute pace and others at an 18-minute pace. We encourage people to partner up with someone of similar ability.
Once the training season is over, many in the walking group continue to meet and train – we can’t afford to not train for six months! Some in our walking group have been together since 2003 and new people join each year adding to our numbers.
I switched to racewalking because it is a low-impact endurance sport and has much less joint impact on ankles, knees and hips. So much of health research says being active 30 minutes to an hour a day is the best “health pill” for good health and a longer life. Brisk walking is essential to achieve an aerobic effect which benefits your physiological, neurological, and psychological wellbeing.
If people are interested in losing weight, racewalking uses 15 percent more calories than running because of the hip movement required. More muscle is demanded for racewalking. I lost 100 pounds through diet and exercise — racewalking — and I’ve managed to keep the weight off.
I currently train 4 days a week and cross train 2 days a week. My current goal is to complete a half marathon in all 50 states. As of mid-March, 2019, I completed state # 49 in Hawaii. Once I complete a half in all 50 states plus Washington D.C. this year, my next goal is to do a half marathon in the 10 Canadian Provinces. My first Canadian race will be in June in Sherbrooke, Quebec.
Mike, Joined in 2003