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You may know her as the woman who made the historic swim from Cuba to Florida in 2013, as a Dancing With the Stars participant in 2014, or as the Find a Way author. Now, Diana Nyad is stepping out of the water and taking big strides on land.
Nyad’s always up for a challenge, and her next endeavor is to stop the obesity epidemic in America. Nyad and her best friend Bonnie Stoll have created EverWalk, which is a series of walks across the United States designed to get people off their electronics and outside moving.
“They say sitting is the new smoking; this is to get people up. We sit all day—we’re the most sedentary nation on earth,” expresses Nyad. “The whole idea behind EverWalk is to get people in America to walk to school, work or even dinner with your neighborhood friends. If you want to go and get your groceries, push along a little cart and walk three miles and three miles back instead of driving.”
Building a nation of walkers one city at a time, Nyad is committed to help people get moving.
“I know walking doesn’t sound badass, but the truth is, saying you walked all the way from Portland to Seattle—I think it’s a badge of honor,” shares Nyad.
Walking takes a great deal of mental and physical toughness. Just because you’ve ran multiple marathons and half marathons doesn’t mean you should just hop into an EverWalk event without proper training.
“Even though you’re going slower, you’re going to walk for six or seven hours everyday with no break. Like anything else, you’ve got to be smart, get ready for it,” Nyad notes. “You can develop Achilles issues, calf issues or knee problems. The bones of your feet touch the pavement hundreds of thousands of times, which is more than running. We got in shape for it.”
Just like any race you’re training for, you’ve got to set yourself up for success. That means train. Find a training plan to fits into your schedule and walk. You can walk to the grocery store, work, park—just about any where to get your body used to walking.
In addition to training, you need to get yourself a good pair of walking shoes. Go to any good running store and have them assess your walking stride to set you up with the correct shoes. Pack a bag with water, sunblock, lip balm and fuel when training so you have all the necessities to get you from start to finish—successfully.
“We’re all aging. But here I am at 67 years old and I’m not going to waste time. Moving feels great and keeps me feeling young,” expresses Nyad. “I think when it comes to will and going through pain, it’s really a clear decision to me to say, well I could quit, that would feel nice. I wouldn’t be cold anymore, I wouldn’t be hurting anymore, but then how would I feel? Where’s my character? Won’t I feel better, am I going to die? No. Am I going to hurt and suffer, yes. It will be over at some point, and aren’t I going to feel better and feel like I lived a bigger life then quitting and being comfortable.”
The inaugural EverWalk takes place October 23 to 29, 2016 from Los Angeles to San Diego, California—approximately 137 miles! Starting with a TedTalk for inspiration, you can see the whole schedule for the 7-day adventure here (routes and distances are subject to change).
“By 2020, my goal is to have a million EverWalkers walk across the country with EverWalk,” says Nyad.
With many options to be a part of this mass event, from distances to virtual, EverWalk is a chance for you to get on a path to a lifetime of health and wellness.