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Valeriy Borchin
Valeriy’s my new hero.

I think I’ve been trapped in some weird paradigm that’s dictating some false assumptions — namely that running is sort of the ultimate fitness test, and that I’m wimping out if I don’t suck it up and get that knee replacement so I can get back on the treadmill on a regular basis.

While it’s true that whatever jogging I’ve been able to do since I began this fitness regimen almost two years ago has lifted my heart rate in a way that other activities generally haven’t been able to match, the toll on my knees, calves and, lately, my left ankle have been akin to cruel and unusual punishment. And, I mused while striding vigorously across the Intercity Bridge (ice now beginning to form on the Mississippi), why can’t I — and the fitness gods — attach some similar value to a brisk walk?

No, it’s not the same as a 2 1/2 mile jog from Minneapolis to St. Paul, but my morning commute does involve covering that distance on foot at a moderately brisk pace. I mean, people who run marathons often walk part of the way, don’t they? I’m just walking the whole way.

The more I think about this, the more this whole glorification of jogging/running is beginning to annoy me. Why isn’t there a magazine called Walker’s World? How come we don’t have 5K and 10K walking races Why does the sporting press worship guys like Usain Bolt and ignore Olympic 20K walking champ Valeriy Borchin (above)? It’s not because he’s Russian, I’ll bet.

I’m suddenly feeling like an oppressed minority.

But, instead of moping around, I  think I’m going to simply create a new trend, right here, right now: Walking is the new running. Maybe I’ll get T-shirts printed, start a Web site, lobby for a shoe endorsement from Keds — turning down all offers from the walkophobes at Nike.

I like this. I can save my lower appendages, do something everyday that I really enjoy, and maybe even create a cult following. What’s not to like?

(Photo: Anja Niedringhaus/Associated Press)   


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