Walking Workouts Starting to Bore You?
Walking is the new running for many with knee, hip, or ankle concerns. It’s the new elliptical and step-mill for many who’ve ditched the gym by necessity or choice. (see my announcement on Instagram). Walking workouts are a good choice for several reasons.
Done right walking can be as intense or as easy as you need it to be. You can reduce cortisol, increase feel-good serotonin, and improve your sleep all the while slowly. walking away pounds or inches if that’s a goal. Already at optimal weight? Keep walking anyway. The health benefits are abundant and include improved blood pressure, cholesterol levels as well as depression and anxiety reduction.
If you’re walking more but find yourself dreading the same walk today, I’ve got you covered. While I can’t move your front door and change the scenery, I’ve got 5 walking workouts you can play with this week. I do recommend you find ways to turn left if you’re always turning right and find new ways to walk the ‘hood. Consider a drive to a trail or path to shake up your route.
#1 The Long Slow
Once a week choose a trail, or a new area to explore and lengthen your walk. I’ve explored new neighborhoods when I leave from the house when I go for longer walks. Sometimes I do an out-and-back route and others I just let myself get lost and figure it out. This longest walk of the week should be reasonable but stretch you.
How do you choose how long to go? Take the walk distance you’re doing regularly, add a significant amount that still feels doable to it. Say you usually going on a 3-mile jaunt around the neighborhood at what feels like a brisk walk. For your long slow walk, you take it off the beaten path to a 4-mile scenic trail which will slow things down.
It helps to have a GPS either on a phone app or a watch. I love my Garmin 920 for tracking distance and time whether I’m swimming, biking, running/walking, or stringing all three together. Alternatively, though just watch your time and determine half time so you know when to return and not put yourself in a position of doing too much too soon.
Frequency: Once a week
#2 The Hill Habit
Number two on the walking workouts list is your interval training with resistance workout. You need either one big hill or a series of hills for this one. You’re going to walk 10 or 15 minutes first then you want to find yourself at the base of a hill that takes you a minute and a half to two minutes to power up. Turn yourself around and walk back down or walk down the other side.
Your recovery should take twice as long. Once you’re down, and you’re completely recovered, no longer breathless, begin it again. Do 4-6 repeats and then resume your walk to cool down 10 or 15 minutes.
Each week increase your intervals so you’re eventually climbing the hill 8 times.
Then instead of increasing the repeats, focus on reaching a higher point on the hill in the same amount of time. You may find you’ve run out of hill eventually. If you’re making it to the top in less than a minute, find a slightly bigger hill.
Frequency: Once a week
#3 The Walk-This-Way
In this walk you’re going to connect your hip roll to your heel strike and the width of your gait.
Warm up at your usual gait gradually increasing your pace until you’re warm. It’s 102 here so I don’t mean just that… muscles, joints ready to go!
Then narrow your stance so you’re walking as if you’re on a tightrope or balance beam. You’ll notice your hips rolling more which is what you want. You are cruising along and that’s how it should feel.
Begin to widen your stance again and you’ll slow down and the hips will roll less.
Alternate these motions of tight rope walking and normal walking. Try to pick up the speed as you do the tight rope walking. Roll through the foot heel-ball-toe and keep low to the ground, minimizing any up and down bouncing.
Your mechanics are more efficient in this position even though it may feel awkward the first few times.
Frequency: any time
#4 The Swinger
This one is all about arms. I notice so many walkers with artistic interpretation of arm swings out there!
Here’s the 411. You want to swing from the shoulders. Your arms should hang down and move from the shoulder like a pendulum rather than be reaching movements.
If you’re walking a slow easy pace you’ve got longer arms.
If you’re walking a moderate pace you shorten your arm (aka your “lever”)
If you’re trying to walk very fast or power up a hill without slowing down you have a 90 degree bend in your elbow and you’re increasing the rate you move those arms.
Your arms determine your legs. Need more power or more speed in your legs you’ll initiate it with your arms.
If you feel tension in your neck and shoulders after going for a walk it’s a sign you’re overcontrolling the swing from the top down instead of allowing them to swing like a pendulum.
- Do swing front to back.
- Don’t bring the arms across your body.
- Don’t hold onto hand weights.
- Do lift weights two or three times a week to compliment your walking and do far more good than carrying weights during walking ever will.
Set out at a comfortable pace with long arms.
Increase your speed for a block or so by bending your arms and picking up the pace to a speed you probably can’t maintain but will boost your intensity.
Settle back down to a slower walk to recover.
This is speed-play and you can pick a corner, a driveway or streetlight to target so you’re doing 30 second or more little “pick ups” during your walk.
Frequency: once a week
#5 The My Way
For runners this one is known as “fartlek.” It’s just speed play really. You can do it to landmarks along the way like lampposts, corners, or driveways. I like to do it to music. I’ll create a playlist of very fast (160-180 bpm) and more moderate tempo music (140-160) and match the tempo while I run.
You can use the tempo for the entire song or for just a short, timed interval.
The advantage of doing it “my way” is that your body never settles into a pattern and you don’t get tired, stiff or sore the way you easily can if you set out and go the same pace for an entire walk.
What’s happening is that your fascia gets set and that’s often what creates stiffness and tension. You may think it’s the muscles, but it’s often that kind of “hairnet” of fascia lain over the top.
In simpler terms, this just feels like play! It’s like being a kid again. When you feel like running run. When you feel like going slow, go slow. If you like me are strongly moved by music, I highly recommend using a playlist of various speeds of music and songs you love and are inspired by!
Frequency: any time
There you have it, 5 walking workouts to fall in love with.
Are you walking more?
What’s your pleasure?