Are you participating in or gearing up for American Legion National Commander Bill Oxford’s 100 Miles for Hope challenge? Whatever your skill level, we have some tips to make your 100-mile fitness journey healthy and enjoyable.
Please remember before starting strenuous physical activities that you should be in good shape or be cleared by your primary care physician. The purpose of this article is to provide general guidance and should not be considered a substitute for medical advice.
One hundred miles may sound daunting, but with commitment and consistency, you may find it easier than you thought to push yourself and make an important impact in the community and to your health!
The sooner you start, the more distance you can cover in a longer period of time vs. cramming more miles in daily. If you haven’t been physically active lately, this is a great time to start, but do so slowly. Start at a pace you're comfortable with and start to challenge yourself.
● Work on getting miles in more days per week.
● Increase the distance/duration you’re going each session.
● Pick up the pace and start to cover more ground in less time!
Getting outside for some fresh air and vitamin D is extremely important. It is beneficial for our physical health, and our emotional health. During these summer months, heat will be a factor. Make sure you're drinking lots of water in preparation and staying hydrated both before and during activity. Get out early and beat the heat or wait until the sun starts to set to avoid the warmest hours of the day. Also, don’t forget the sunscreen!
Whether you’re starting with a walk around the block, a three-mile run, or a five-mile bike ride, take the time to prevent injuries. Make sure to warm up and stretch. If you’re not used to much impact or get too aggressive too quickly, you’ll feel it. Anyone who’s ever gotten shin splints after a long run or walk without stretching, can attest. Take time to stretch, your body will thank you for it.
If you’re having a tough time finding the motivation to get started, enlist the help of a friend or family member. Make a commitment to each other and you’ll have someone to be accountable to! Working out is always more fun with friends; you not only get to spend time with a loved one, you’ll be creating enjoyable, healthy habits. It’s also a great opportunity to explore new areas. Whether it’s a new nature trail or new neighborhood, sightseeing can make a walk, run, or bike ride, far more enjoyable.
If you’re looking for more of a challenge, try hitting some hills. The incline really kicks up the intensity and will start to increase that heart rate. You can also incorporate intervals into the mix. Run-walk intervals are a sure fire way to maximize cardiac output while still covering a good amount of distance. Start by jogging or running easy for 60 seconds then walking for 60 seconds and repeat.
You may want to invest in a heart rate or activity tracker. It’s a great tool for those wanting to ensure they are training at a safe heart rate range or for those looking to increase performance. They also do a great job of tracking those miles and providing reminders and motivation.
Whatever your fitness level, the most important thing is to make a commitment and be consistent! Little changes add up to big results, so make it a habit and work toward a happier, healthier new you!
Army veteran Jennifer Campbell, MS, is a certified personal trainer and holds a master’s degree in Nutrition Education. She works with veterans and civilians, from elite athletes to those just starting their fitness journey. She is the commander of Post 43 in Hollywood, Calif.