Put one foot in front of the other

Weather played havoc with a planned National Walk@Lunch Day last week, but that didn’t stop me from being ashamed of myself for having fallen out of my own walking habits. During my several years in exile, living in New Jersey and working in New York City, it was routine for me to walk at least three miles a day – just to get to and from work. Good thing, too, because there is a noodle and dumpling shop on East Broadway I would have lifted brick by brick and brought to Parkersburg with me, if I could have figured out how to do it.

When you walk a lot – and I mean really make an effort to take those extra steps – it can go a long way toward replacing a gym membership. A neighbor of mine asked me the other day why he always sees me outside with my dog on a leash, instead of letting her run free. The truth is, it has very little to do with her. If I convince myself I need to take two long walks per day “for the dog,” I know I’ll at least get the beginnings of a workout in.

That is a poor version of the walking plan I had for myself when I first envisioned my move to Parkersburg, though. I was going to spend all kinds of time on the trails at nearby parks, do a 5K every weekend, walk to a new spot for lunch every day. And then reality set in. Cold, snowy, gray reality.

It’s funny how priorities can shift when taking care of your body runs straight into an obstacle like “but I really don’t want to put my gloves and boots back on today.” It’s nearly insurmountable, really.

It is May, now. I no longer have any excuses. (Present rain pounding on the roof notwithstanding.) If Highmark and the Wellness Council of West Virginia can convince folks to “turn that working lunch into a walking lunch,” as organizer Cathy McAlister said, surely to goodness I can reset and get back to the plan for those trails after work.

In fact, today is May the Fourth. That means it is nearly time for me to get an extra dose of inspiration from a group of runners and walkers I found last year. Nerd Herd Running organizes a virtual race trilogy annually, in which runners, walkers (and the occasional hiker) pay their entry fees for each race in order to receive a bib they can print out, and then complete their race anywhere they choose. Without the need to pay for a lot of overhead, the group is able to make significant donations to StupidCancer.org.

To give some idea of the kinds of folks who organized Nerd Herd Running, last year’s trilogy started with the May the Fourth (Be With You) 5K. Naturally, this year’s will begin with the Revenge of the Fifth 5K. With the encouragement of some members of the group, by the end of last season I had taken my walking to new heights, finishing nearly as quickly as some of the runners in my final 5K.

And now look at me. Reduced to seeing the word “walk” in a headline and feeling a twinge of guilt. I’ve got a long way to go if I’m going to be more than a puddle by the end of the News and Sentinel Half Marathon in August. It’s time to get back on track. How does the saying go? April showers bring May power walks … nevermind. See you on the trails!

Public service notice – Don’t forget Mother’s Day next Sunday! You’ve got a week to come up with a special way to show the mothers in your life how much they mean to you.

Christina Myer is executive editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She can be reached via e-mail at cmyer@newsandsentinel.com