Mary and Sarah Jane Allen will be walking this year’s Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon together and their training routine is off to a good start so far.
Sarah Jane, who is studying in the University of Limerick, is covering around 3 or 4km on her evening walks. Already determined to get fitter, she decided to mix it up a little and has included a couple of sets of running up and down some steps around campus. This is a great way to help build leg muscles and challenge her fitness.
At the weekend the mother and daughter duo walk together and usually go for a longer session of around 4 or 5km. They plan to increase the distance gradually as we get closer to June 5th.
They completed the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon together last year but Sarah Jane admits that she didn’t do enough to prepare and only started training properly three weeks before the event. She was battling a knee injury at the time so that made it harder. “I had intense physio on my knee and it has improved a lot but I still struggle with it at times”.
A big issue that can cause injury and pain for walkers is unsuitable footwear. The ladies won’t have a problem with this as they had their gait analysis done in Elverys and were fitted with new runners. Mary finds them a great help, she needed a lot of support in her trainers as she has osteoporosis and struggles with lower back pain, she really feels the difference since she started walking with them. Sarah Jane’s analysis showed that her left ankle came out a bit when she walked (which she knew was due to an old dancing injury) but again with the correct trainers this should help her through.
Pace wise Sarah Jane tends to walk a lot faster when she’s on her own but she is happy to stay at Mary’s pace when they train together. This time round they’ll be targeting a slightly quicker time even though they finished in an impressive 1 hour 40 minutes in 2016.
The social aspect of walking is of course very important and when they walk together at the weekends Sarah Jane says “it gives us a chance to catch up and chat about everything that has been happening in our lives, we have a great laugh together and really do motivate each other”.
Exercise helps relieve stress and Sarah Jane finds that the training is helping her get through a busy time in college. “Last Wednesday I had an exam at 9am and was quite stressed and on the verge of a panic attack. So, I made sure to get up early enough to allow myself time to walk to college and it really calmed me down”.
Although Mary is happy enough to keep walking as her main form of exercise, she could introduce some weight bearing movements to help with her osteoporosis. This would include bodyweight squats, press ups against a wall or even carrying some light weights on her walk.
Sarah Jane intends on going to the gym to help strengthen her legs so I’ve recommended any weight bearing group classes like kettlebells or bodypump or if she wants to train alone there are plenty of resistance machines to help you get started like leg press and hamstring curl. Of course it’s important to get the gym instructor to demonstrate the exercises before you take them on yourself.
So with over ten weeks to go to the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon, Mary and Sarah Jane Allen are on top of training and can be confident of being fully prepared to tackle the 10km route. I’ve advised them to start to gradually increase their weekend sessions according to the walker’s plan. Another good idea is to perhaps mix up the route from time to time. The Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon course is reasonably flat (thankfully) so there is no harm in practicing on a few hills or even gradual inclines. It’ll challenge fitness and make your legs stronger. Changing the route or terrain also helps to keep motivation up and keep things interesting!