Friday, October 10, 2008

Playing it safe

Walking is a very good sport for your body, you don't have the pounding of running and if done with reasonable good sense applied, you can be a competitive walker well into your senior years.

However, there are risks both from within and without that can sideline you for a week or for months. I have made most of the mistakes and learned a lot by trial and error. I'd very much like for you not to have to learn things that way.

First and easiest of all "STAY HYDRATED", sounds simple but it doesn't take long to get behind. I went through an issue with that earlier this year. Some of the signs are feeling weak and/or with a definite decrease in your normal energy level. Your urine should be very light yellow to clear, the darker it is the more dehydrated you are. I used to think, because it was a theory at the time, that if you took a multi vitamin that the dark color was you passing the extra vitamins you didn't need. This was back in the 60s when they sent troops into combat with a canteen of water and a pocket full of salt tablets.

Second, warm-up, everytime, no exceptions. If you try to go out as fast as you can in a race without warming up first you are asking for a muscle pull or strain. At the very least you will be very sore later. A good rule of thumb is you are warmed up when you breakout in a light sweat. Now on a very hot day you might already be sweating, that's not warmed up. Warmed up is not a temperture measure, what warmed up actually is: the point where you're body is channeling extra blood into your working muscles. The muscles you want to get the extra blood are the muscles you want to use, for walking that's pretty much your whole body.

Third, almost as important as a warm up is a cool down. If you do a race or workout hard and stop dead when you cross the finish will stiffen you up quick. Keep walking around slowly while you have some water or sports drink. About 5 min of easy walking will do wonders for you.

Last is do at least a minimum of stretches. Stretch all your leg muscles, even 30 sec for each major muscle group will be much better than letting your muscles tightened up. Doing these things will go a long way in keeping you uninjured.

The other side of safety is the monsters and traps waiting to pounce on you.

Watch where you are going. That sounds like a no brainer but I took a bad fall once and had a bad case of skinned up knees and elbows because I was zoned while cruising along the shoulder of the road and tripped over a wire laying on the side of the road. Lots of places in the sidewalk and road to trip you if you don't keep your eyes open.

Walk facing traffic and expect cars not to see you. A lot of times they don't. People who ride bikes will tell you drivers are not paying attention. These days lots of people are talking on their phones while driving , even text messageing while driving. It don't make much difference if you are in the right or not, that car is gonna hurt if it smacks into you.

Last of all walk in an area where you don't have to worry about dogs and evil people. I carry a small can of HALT dog repellent clipped to the back waistband of my shorts. I still don't wnat to have to test out if it works on a mad dog. Ladies I remember several years ago an article in Runner's World magazine about a woman who was raped while out running. The attackers defense in court was that she was asking for it by being dressed in such tight revealing clothing.
I don't remember the outcome of the trial but I thought at the time what a crock of panda poo that was, but unfortunately there are people that feel that way about adult athletic women. Remember we are not the norm and to some our just being there is a reminder of what they have let happen to themselves.

Thanks for reading

Safe Panda

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