The 5 to Stay Alive Principle- Revisited

Note: This was originally posted on 8/4/15. But I have many new readers since then and I was recently asked about it by someone so I thought I would update and revisit this topic.  I truly believe that having started my marathon journey like this, with the support of friends and family had a direct affect on my initial and continued success.  And anyone who has a marathon on their bucket list would benefit from trying this as well.  

One reason I wanted to revisit this is that with winter upon us in full force, people tend to hibernate and not think about training for races or staying as active.  Sometimes the thought process is “I’ve got all kinds of time before I have to think about that.  It’s only February.”  Well let me tell you, it’s never too early to start. One of my favorite sayings that I heard for the first time from my friend Scot last winter is “summer bodies are made in the winter.”  So true! Quit procrastinating and get to it!

Summer bodies are earned in the winter

The other reason, like I said above, is that I was talking about this just this weekend with my friend Jennifer.  She has become one of my closest and dearest friends, knows the struggle, always encouraging and a source of strength for me.  But, we were only acquaintances at best when I originally posted this. So I figured she, as well as any other followers that have recently started reading Walk Fiercely, might find it interesting and helpful.  For those who have read it, nothing wrong with a little refresher.  Might spark someone to give it a try or share the idea with another friend.

In 2013 I had been on a health kick for about a year and had completed a couple of half marathons (13.1 miles).  I knew I had to step up my game and come up with another goal to keep my interest in staying active and healthy.  So, I figured I’d walk a marathon (26.2 miles). Before that, I was only half crazy! (marathon humor) I researched races that were close by and they all had a time limit of 6:00.  I knew I walked fast and might be able to make that time.  But when I did cross the finish line, if the time was 6:00:01 or higher, I would feel like I failed.  So, I decided to do one on my own and take at least the finishing time pressure off myself. I picked a date near my 43rd birthday and decided that completing a marathon was the gift I was going to give myself. As I trained I would map out my route around Charleston, WV with my Garmin watch. As the miles added up, I realized how incredibly boring it was to walk alone, even with music.  So, I started asking friends to join me.  Knowing that they weren’t interested in training for a marathon, I would only ask them to walk part of the training route with me.  The training schedule gradually increases the long walks each week.  It was around the time that the long walks were 10 miles or more that I started adding friends.  That’s when I started doing some math (there is a lot of time to think when you walk that far) and realized that if I divided 26.2 by 5, that would be 5 friends and 1.2 miles to spare.  I have used a variation of this principle to train for all 3 marathons I have done.  I must mention that I have 2 friends that have been involved in all three marathons, but for number two and three, the landscape has changed, some friends have moved on (from walking, not from being my friend!) and other friends have surfaced and have been included.  That’s a pretty awesome part of this too!  It has worked great for me.  And so, The 5 to Stay Alive Principle was born!5 to Stay Alive logo- yellow

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: As you are training, keep mapping out your course and write it down, including the position of each mile (or every 5 miles if you prefer). If you have to type it in your phone on your way so you don’t forget, then do that.  But if you can remember be sure to record it as soon as you get home. Don’t assume you will remember…you won’t. And be specific.  For example, “Start at Main and 42nd St. turn right at 53rd and left at First Ave, etc.”  Eventually, you will remember the route from doing it.  This makes planning so much easier when you incorporate your friends.

Step 2:   Select the friends that you want to include and ask them to participate.   For this it isn’t about who your closest friends are.  It is about which friends will be the best to help you reach your goal. Can they walk 5 miles?  Can they keep your pace?  Are they supportive of what you are doing?  If you are lucky, like I was, it will be your closest friends that are also the ones that will help you reach your goal.

Step 3:   Ask them if they will be willing to participate in your 5 to Stay Alive training plan and explain how it works to them.   I am willing to bet that 9 out of 10 times they will jump on board immediately. Make a list of the friends that are willing to do it so you can easily reference when you need a walking buddy.

Step 4: Decide when and how far you want to train on a particular day.  Like I said, my long walks are always a Saturday (90%) or Sunday (10%).  As for how far, you can start this principle at any distance.  But I think I started it once I passed about 10 miles in my training.  So, any walk longer than 10 miles, I would ask at least one friend to join me at some point.

Step 5: Select the person (or persons) to go with you on the next walk and tell them what your expectations are for that walk.  For example, “Michelle, I have to walk 16 miles on Saturday.  Can you meet me at the Drug Emporium parking lot at 10:00 and walk the last 6 with me to keep me motivated?  And would you mind bringing me a room temperature bottle of water. I will even text you on my 9th mile to let you know I am about 14 minutes out.”  She now knows where to be and when,  what is expected of her (6 miles and water), what your goal is (16 miles)  and that  she might need to give you some extra motivation around mile 14 to get those last two done.  If you are going to use multiple friends on the same day, follow the same procedure, just make sure you let each one know where and when to meet and any other expectations you have.

Step 6: Execute the walk!  Not much more to say about this.

Step 7: After completing the goal, pat each other on the back, give it an “atta girl/guy” and celebrate the victory!  And, of course, thank your friend(s) for helping you!

Step 8 (optional):  Maybe one of your friends will do the same thing for themselves and set a goal to strive for with the help of their friends.

Over the 6 months of training and fine tuning my plans and my route the first time, this 5 to Stay Alive theme just kept coming up and I decided that if it worked for me, maybe it would work for others too.  So, I bring you my wisdom and experience.  For the purposes of the blog I am talking about it in terms of training for a marathon. Feel free to tweak it to accommodate any length race, sport or goal you are interested in.

Please share your thoughts on if you would try this or not and why.  Together we can fine tune it to be even better.  Of course, if you have tried it I would love to hear your feedback on if it worked.


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One Response to The 5 to Stay Alive Principle- Revisited

  1. angel says:

    The Five to Stay Alive

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