Thursday, May 6, 2010

Training For Travel

~ For the past month or two I have been in training for travel.

Health professionals, and national health authorities constantly encourage people in first world countries to eat well, drink less alcohol, exercise regularly, and in the case of smokers, to give up the habit completely. Thankfully, I have never been a smoker and I’m only an occasional drinker, but at 110 kilograms (240 pounds) I can afford to lose some weight and not miss it.

The hard part is motivating myself to get up off the couch – or more to the point, to tear myself away from the computer – and find some type of exercise that will help me shed some weight and get a lot fitter.

My biggest problem is – I hate exercise. I get no pleasure at all from pumping iron at a gym, sweating profusely in an aerobics class, or sitting on a stationary bike pretending I’m in the pelaton at the Tour de France. As for running on a treadmill, all that conjures up for me are images of mice racing headlong on running wheels, getting nowhere fast.

As I say, I need something special to motivate me to get up and move. For me, this motivating factor has become travel. It is just the incentive I need to get fit or die trying!

Since travel tends to involve a lot of walking, I’ve settled on walking as the best low impact way of preparing myself for my next round of jet-setting. So every day, I head off to walk one of three circuits I have mapped out around my neighbourhood and along the foreshore between Semaphore and Largs Bay.

The three circuits involve distances of three kilometres (1.86 miles); five kilometres (3.10 miles); and eight kilometres (4.97 miles). How far I walk on a particular day, will depend on how I am feeling, but more and more I am walking the longer distance of eight kilometres. In fact, after a couple of months of regular walking, I have now become fit enough to extend that distance even further. Hence my previous entry, Walking Manhattan.

The more I walk, the more convinced I am that I can tackle the length of Broadway, which for my purposes I am measuring from the 207th Street/Inwood subway station to the running bull sculpture at Bowling Green. According to Google Maps this is a total distance of 20.4 kilometres, or 12.67 miles. Again, according to Google, this distance could be covered in around four hours and eleven minutes of continuous walking.

Clearly, a reasonably fit person should have no trouble completing this walk. However, at 61 years of age, I am not quite reasonably fit – or ready to take on 20 kilometres. Yet. But I’m getting there. By the time I hit the streets of New York City in July, I will be ready, although I have no intention of completing the distance in one long continuous four hour walk. With rest stops and some sightseeing along the way, it is more likely to take the better part of 8-10 hours, but complete it I will.

So if you have problems like I do with exercise, take my advice and don’t call it by that name. Instead call it Training for Travel. It might just be the incentive you need to get up off the couch and out to the gym or onto the streets of your neighbourhood, in preparation for your next journey.

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