Walking. That’s it. My exercise of choice. It’s one of the things I’ve had to ‘give up’ since I became an official missionary over 10 years ago. When I lived in Little Rock, I had a 3 mile route mapped out, including hills, that I walked almost daily. A few years back, in Maradi, I decided to give walking a try. This meant I would have to wear a long skirt along with my sneakers. But I really missed walking, so I shoved my pride and did it. It lasted all of 2 days. First, I know I looked like a dork, trucking along like I had somewhere to go. There was really nowhere appropriate for walking, other than the main roads. While moving along, trying to mind my own business, 3 separate people stopped and asked if I needed a ride somewhere, or if I was having problems with my car. Because why would I be walking anywhere on purpose, when everyone knew full well that I had a vehicle? After that, it was back to my DVD workouts. Until recently that is.
Several weeks ago, after 8 hours in the car on our way home from Maradi, Neal and Trae decided to play tennis – to get some activity after the long road trip. I thought that was a good idea, and suddenly thought – I could go with them to the American Rec Center and walk around the softball field! I dragged Tanika with me (unwilling as she was), and while the guys played tennis, we walked. Tanika couldn’t keep up with me and I shamelessly pointed out that she was 16 and I was 43. It brought me back to the good ole’ days in Little Rock. Why I hadn’t thought of this before now is beyond me. It was great! So, since then, I have been consistently walking 4-6 times/week. This is the best weather to do it in too – it’s dry/cold season. And even though it’s still 95-100 in the afternoons, it’s very dry. I have several comparisons to describe how hot it can be here, but now I’ve got one for how dry it is. While walking, I involuntarily attempt to swallow. Because of the dryness, it’s almost as my throat is sealed shut. Well, I guess it is, in fact, sealed shut. At least for a few seconds. When I swallow, I can feel feel my throat opening very slowly. It’s kind of a freaky feeling. I’ve walked in mornings, afternoons and evenings. Afternoons are my least favorite because dry or not, 95 is still hot!
I use the term ‘walk’ loosely here. I mentioned looking like a dork before? Here’s what happens:
I leave the house and make the 5-minute drive to the rec center. I wear my work-out clothes, and add a wrapper in case I have to get out of the car for any reason before I get to my destination.
Upon arriving, I immediately walk 1 lap very briskly, but not too ‘dorkily’ just yet. I don’t know the distance around the perimeter of the softball field, but it takes about 2 minutes 20 seconds for 1 fast lap. After that first lap, I stop at the cement picnic table and stretch, along with a set of 20 straddle squats. Now I’m ready. I grab my 2lb weights and do a set of 3 laps. First lap I walk very fast, pumping my wieght carrying arms. Second lap I use the weights to work my tri-ceps. Third time around I pump my arms forward and back in unison, which I’m hoping works back muscles. After lap 3, I stop to wipe my sweat, get a drink, and lest I get too excited about my break, I throw in another set of 20 straddle squats.
This gets repeated 2 more times, and each time around the field I’m doing something different with my arms. That’s the dorky part. Trae has confirmed that for me. Each 3 laps gets awarded with a quick stretch and several gulps of water. And more squats. After my 3rd set of 3 laps, I add a bonus lap, which is when I do quick sets of all the arm exercises I’ve done. Why all the emphasis on arms? I’ve read Proverbs 31 lots of times and although I’m not yet a maker and seller of purple cloth, one thing I can do is make my arms strong and firm. At least that’s the idea… I also do lunges along the back line of the field. I don’t know how many I do, I should count sometime. But it’s enough to make my legs shaky. By the time I’m done, I’ve had 1.5 liters of water to drink and I’ve done 80 straddle squats.
That lap is followed by another set of squats, a good stretch, and a cool – down walk/stretch lap. That’s my 2nd favorite lap. I’ve checked my heart rate and found that it is higher than it should be – given my age. Except that I believe I’m stuck in a 30 year old body. If that’s true, my working heart rate of 170 is just right. It’s down to 120 after my cool-down lap. My goal is for that to drop even lower, more quickly.
Next comes ‘floor work’, minus the floor. I improvise with a cement bench. I do a set of 30 push-ups – girl style. Then 25 side leg lifts on each leg. Then 40 calf raises. Then a last set of 30 push-ups. Still girl style. And then my final stretch, and my final walk around the field. That’s my favorit lap! I don’t work out because I love exercise. And I’m certainly not athletic. I work out because I love how I feel when I’m done. That’s what drives me to keep on. I don’t need a friend to help motivate me. In fact, I prefer working out alone. I’m not very coordinated so I prefer to keep my dorkyness to myself. But I have also found, with age, (I’m somewhere around 30) that I don’t care much how I look when I exercise. I’ll leave that to my kids to be concerned about…
I don’t time my laps, but I am consistent – the whole workout from warm-up to that last lap takes between 50-55 minutes. Every time. When I’m done, I sit down on a lawn chair (I use ‘lawn chair’ loosely) and remove my shoes and socks to pick out all the burrs that have gathered there during my trek. Then I put my shoes and socks back on. I know, it’s kind of gross, but I prefer to get the sand and stickers out before I get home and drag them through the house. On the rare occasions that I have time, I sit in my lawn chair and enjoy a Diet 7-Up, while praying/thinking.
Sometimes while thinking, I try and figure out what took me so long to figure out that I no longer had to give up my exercise of choice. I have some more thinking to do to figure out what I’ll do when hot season comes…
Last, I drive home — slowly, so I can enjoy the AC as long as possible and finish cooling down. Because if you saw me at the end of my workout, you would understand where the phrase ‘beet red’ comes from.