Did you know that training for a Susan G. Komen 3-Day® can increase your fitness level, help you feel better and have more energy for work AND leisure? If you didn’t know, now you do! Many of our Komen 3-Day participants have asked me where I get all my energy. Honestly, fitness and daily exercise are at the heart of my physical and emotional well being. Following the recommended training schedule provided by our 3-Day® coaches will not only ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience, but in the process you’ll feel more able to do things like playing with your kids, gardening, dancing, or biking.
The secret to all that energy? Get physical!
Improving your fitness is good for your heart, lungs, bones, muscles, and joints. It also lowers your risk for falls, heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers. If you already have one or more of these problems, getting more fit may help you control other health problems and make you feel better.
Maybe you exercise to tone your thighs, build your biceps, or flatten your belly. Or maybe you work out to ward off the big killers like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. But how about sweating to improve your mind? Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning.
The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. Exercise and physical activity are a great way to feel better, gain health benefits and have fun. And the benefits of exercise are yours for the taking, regardless of your age, sex or physical ability. Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any health concerns.
So as you save lives all across the globe, work on enhancing your own by following those training schedules, signing up for training walks, and simply getting fit. Let’s WALK!
The last Insider’s Guide post delved into the ways that the 3-Day keeps you moving and keeps you safe. Now, let’s jump into the ways for you to stay nourished, stay well and stay motivated.
Rest, Refuel, Relieve Yourself – No, that’s not just a catchy headline I just made up, that really is the unofficial motto of the 3-Day pit stops. Pit stops are magical little worlds—themed, decorated, and costumed—that are strategically located along the route every 2-4 miles, so you’re never very far from the next one. Read on to see what you’ll find at a 3-Day pit stop…
Right this way, mama
A time warp, or just your typical 3-Day pit stop?
Food – You will be many things while you are a 3-Day walker, and one of them definitely is well-fed. Good thing too. Keeping your energy up is crucial to sustain your physical activity for 6, 8, 10 hours a day, and your body needs constant fuel to do that. On average, walkers burn about 100 calories per mile of walking, so you should absolutely permit yourself to indulge in the delectable assortment of all-you-can-eat goodies offered at the pit stops. You’ll find packaged snacks (chips and pretzels, peanuts, baby carrots, granola bars), fresh fare (oranges and bananas, bagels), and the 3-Day community at large would never forgive me if I failed to give a shout-out to the grahamwiches. I know for a fact that there are walkers out there who wait all year to get their hands on those sweet PB&J treats. So dig in, walkers, and hit the road when you’re ready. Noshing while walking is totally permitted. And since there will be snacks for you every 2-4 miles along your way, you don’t ever have to worry about going hungry.
Some Youth Corps kids pass out snacks
Quite a variety of tasty treats
Arrrrrrgh ye hungry?
Orange you glad we have snacks? (Okay, I’ll stop now.)
Hydration – You’ll also refill your water bottle at the pit stops – at every pit stop. Dehydration is one of the most frequently treated medical issues on the 3-Day, and remember, if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. So drink your water, even if you feel like you don’t need it. Consume the entire bottle between pit stops. Alternate with sports drink at every other stop, so you keep your electrolytes up too. If you have trouble remembering to drink (not usually an issue if it’s hot, but a more common problem in cooler temps), you and your teammates can play the Orange Shirt Drinking Game, a little something I picked up walking in the very hot Twin Cities in 2013. Unlike the drinking games you may have played in college, this one will actually result in your good health and well-being. It’s simple: any time you spot an orange-shirted Route Safety crew member (or even an orange sign along the route), take a drink of your water/sports drink. They’re out among you all day, so you’re sure to get plenty of drink reminders. See? You didn’t know staying hydrated could be so much fun, did you?
1) Refill bottle; 2) Keep being fabulous; 3) Repeat.
Deluxe Accommodation Portable Toilets – So now you’re out there, hydrating like a champ, and it naturally follows that when you get to the next pit stop, you’ll be making “a beeline for the pee line” (you can thank my 16 year old daughter for the rhyming reminder). I know what you’re thinking. Porta-potties? Ugh! I thought the same at first, but believe me when I say that these are not the foul, stinky, oh-dear-heavens-what-is-that-on-the-seat? outhouses you may be imagining. I swear, on my last square of TP (which you won’t have to fret about, since there are always spare rolls within reach), that these are the cleanest, most well-maintained mobile commodes you’re likely to come across. The pit stop crew teams even go the extra mile to make your…ahem, “alone time”…a bit more enjoyable, by hanging entertaining pictures, comics, trivia, or jokes inside the doors. Bottom (no pun intended) line, when nature calls, you’ll answer from the inside of the nicest portable facilities you’ve ever used.
See? They aren’t so bad! Look how happy we are!
Medical attention – Oh, how I seethe when someone dismisses what we 3-Dayers do: “Well, it’s just walking, right? How hard can it be?” Yeah! 20 miles of walking a day, times 3! Make no mistake, the physical impact that walkers endure from all those miles is real. Training is vital, and in a perfect world, your body will be as prepared as it can be for the 60-mile demands you’re putting on it. That said, if you do find yourself with a troubling muscle ache, joint pain, blister (the other most frequently treated medical issue), or some other feeling of unwellness, seek out the red shirts, and you will find the incredible medical crew members ready to take care of you at every pit stop. Doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and paramedic/EMTs, these saints on earth volunteer to spend the weekend with your sweaty feet in their hands, working small miracles with moleskin, trainer’s tape, and cooling ointments so you can get back out on the route. After you grab one more grahamwich for the road…
The medical crew is SO happy to take care of you!
You’ll find a medical tent at every pit stop, just in case you need it.
Trust the medical crew’s advice.They know their stuff.
After John Shinar lost Martha, his wife of 30 years, to breast cancer, he got involved with the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® in a big way. He decided that walking in one Komen 3-Day event in the Twin Cities, where he lives, wasn’t enough for him, so John made the extraordinary commitment to raise funds and walk in all fourteen 3-Day® events in 2013. He traveled coast to coast, logging 840 miles in memory of Martha.
John’s undertaking—essentially becoming a full-time 3-Day walker for the summer—was exceptional, but every year, hundreds of other 3-Day walkers pack up their sneakers and sleeping bags and travel to an out-of-town 3-Day destination as well. What a wonderful world it would be if we could bring a 3-Day walk in every city in America. Alas, that just isn’t possible, so for many walkers, a “destination 3-Day” is the only option.
I live in the Los Angeles area, a location that doesn’t currently have a 3-Day event, so I’ve pretty much always had to travel to walk. At first, my teammates and I stayed as local as we could—we traveled a couple hours south to San Diego, then a couple more hours north to San Francisco, and one year, we even ventured all the way up to Seattle. Then in 2010, we decided to make the destination part of the whole experience, and registered for Washington, DC. In the years following, we’ve made the choice to travel to walk in Philadelphia, Boston and the Twin Cities. This year, we’re Atlanta-bound.
Traveling to the 3-Day is not easy. I have to budget additional time (an extra day before and after the walk for flying, and sometimes more days, if I decide to do some extra visiting) and money (plane tickets, hotels, cabs). Packing a duffle bag with everything I need for the event, plus extra travel days, is an exercise in creativity and patience. Then there are the additional logistics that go with leaving my family for several days and making all the arrangements for the kids’ carpools, after school activities, meals, etc. But I truly look at those sacrifices as an investment in something bigger. If I travel, I walk, and the funds that I raise for the 3-Day go toward my goal of seeing an end to breast cancer in my lifetime.
The investment is also in what I get out of walking. In my “Insider’s Guide to the 3-Day” blog posts, I’ve been sharing my perspective on some of the incredible experiences of being a 3-Day walker. Day to day life moves so fast (fast technology, fast paced job, fast cars…well, except in L.A. traffic), and walking forces me to slow down and take in every moment. Seeing another corner of the world, sometimes a place that I’ve never been to before, and experiencing what it has to offer from two feet instead of 4 wheels is such a gift.
I know that some of you reading this may be saying, “That’s great for you, but I just can’t do that.” I get it. I respect that making the trip to walk somewhere far from home is not feasible for everyone. It’s a choice I make—and a personal choice for each person—to give up some other things throughout the year so I can do this thing for 3 days. They’re 3 days that fulfill me in an immeasurable way, so for me, the choice is simple, even if getting there will be difficult.
This year, with the 3-Day visiting 7 cities instead of last year’s 14, even more participants will be traveling to their events. It was a tough decision for the 3-Day to exit from cities where we had established deep ties over the years, but it has been inspiring to see so many walkers and teams from those cities accept and embrace the change and look forward to representing their hometowns in a new location this year. Look for big contingents of Tampa Bay walkers taking on Atlanta, Boston and DC walkers descending on Philadelphia, and Chicago and Cleveland folks greeting their Midwest neighbors in Michigan and the Twin Cities.
John and his Miles for Martha teammates will return to a few cities to walk this year, and in the meantime, there are 7 other incredible people (so far!), who are registered to walk in all 7 Komen 3-Day events. If you live in one of those cities, we hope you will welcome them and all of the traveling 3-Day participants to the place that will be their home for the weekend. And if you’re thinking about making the trip to a distant 3-Day destination in 2014, I encourage you to do it. Make it happen! Like with everything 3-Day related, you won’t regret it, and there’s no question that a warm welcome awaits you, too.