"Walkers are walking...."

The inaugural meeting of Downtown Walkers couldn’t have asked for a better day: A baby blue sky and a perfect 62 degrees. You can see from our photo we were very happy to be away from our desks and couches.

“We” included Mary Jo, Joanne, Jen and Penny, fitness friends from the Green Y whose names I turned into a song so I don’t forget them; Yu-Ling, who had the brilliant idea to start the twice-weekly lunchtime walks and got to break in her new Brooks Glycerins; Abigail, who brought along husband Jeff (thanks for taking the photo, Jeff!); and Nina and Cindy, who I learned a lot more about as they kept pace with me. Being a journalist, I love hearing personal stories, so don’t be surprised if I saddle up next to you during one of our training sessions and start getting nosey.

Now, according to MapMyRun — that’s one of the apps that Akron Marathon Executive Director Anne Bitong introduced us to — the slowest among us walked 1.67 miles in 28:30. That pace well-exceeded the June 24 time limit for the 1 mile and slightly beat the time limit for the 8k. If you recall, course support ends after 30 minutes for the 1 mile race, and after 90 minutes for the 8k. So if you’ve been worried about pace, relax. We got this!

Downtown Walkers will continue to meet Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12:15 p.m. every week, rain or shine, behind Spaghetti Warehouse in Downtown Akron. Parking is plentiful and free. And in spite of what that photo might suggest, there are men in Blue Line Beginners! Come on out and join us, guys.

"Apps are talking..."

Speaking of apps, has anyone given the C25K app that Anne told us about a try? We passed out training programs for those who are going to run the 8k, and those who are going to walk it. This app feels perfect for those of us who want to do a walk/run strategy.  I just finished my first week on it. The first week is three days, with each comprised of a 5 minute warm-up, a 5 minute cool-down, and 8 rounds of 60 second runs followed by 90 second walks. I was playing music from Pandora on my iPhone, and the app voice broke through loud and clear each time I needed to change pace.

I had a head start because I spent the previous three weeks doing one-third-of-a-mile runs twice a week and some work on the elliptical and various resistance training to build strength in my legs and ankles. So the first week for me went great, pushing me enough that I felt I was challenging myself, but not uncomfortably. I’m really looking forward to seeing how I do the second week, when it increases to an alternating series of 90 second jogs and 2 minute walks.

The app is a training program for the 5k, but it it's only 8 weeks long. That means if you started it last week, it will end a couple weeks shy of our June 24th 8k. That leaves a couple of weeks for us to stretch it into the longer distance. If you haven't started it yet but have been doing the regular 8k run training program, you shouldn't have any problem adjusting to this app if you want to give it a try.

I’m going to wait until we have one month under our belt and then I’m going to ask all of you to report in on your progress so I can share your stories. If you haven’t started keeping a journal yet, take a second now to at least jot down some baseline notes, including what your fitness routine was before you started and how far and fast you could walk or run that first day/first week. I think we’re all going to be surprised how far we’ve come on May 8.

- Paula