This 69-Year-Old Is Training to Skip a Half Marathon
Veteran “skipper” Kim Corbin shares the story of Ro Gammon, a seasoned runner who plans to skip an entire half marathon in honor of her 70th birthday.
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When we’re kids, we skip when we play and we skip down the sidewalk without giving it a second thought. So why do the majority of us stop skipping as adults?
It’s been more than 20 years since a friend spontaneously broke into a skip and invited me to join along on a Friday night in San Francisco. It was the first time I had skipped since childhood, and the experience was so exhilarating that I started organizing group skipping events and created a website called iSkip.com with the intention of starting a worldwide skipping craze.
As it turned out, there were hundreds of people from all over the world who had already been skipping for years, whether for fitness or just for fun. ISkip.com has been celebrating their accomplishments while encouraging ever-increasing numbers of adults to put a skip in their step ever since. So you can imagine my delight when 69-year-old Ro Gammon from Richmond, Virginia, contacted me to share her intention of skipping a half marathon to celebrate the fact that she’ll be turning 70 this fall.
“I’ve already completed marathons, half marathons, an ultra and a triathlon, and I’ve also been an age group winner, so I couldn’t think of anything that would be a new challenge to celebrate entering a new decade,” Gammon says. “I thought about running 70 miles, but that idea still centered around running, and I wanted to do something different. Then one day out of the blue, it hit me! I would skip a half marathon!”
Gammon registered for the Chartway Norfolk Harbor Half Marathon, which is taking place on November 18, 2018, in Virginia, and headed to the internet to research skipping for fitness. She quickly found iSkip.com and contacted me in search of long-distance skipping advice.
A long-distance skipper I am not, so I turned to Ashrita Furman, who set the first Guinness World Record for skipping the fastest marathon in 2003, and the handful of other skippers I have met through the years who skip for more than 5 miles at a time. I sent Gammon their input.
I also sent her the results of a recent research study at East Carolina University that compared skipping to running. The study found that skipping burns 20 percent more calories than running at the same speed for the same time and that skipping has reduced knee loads compared to running, which may help reduce the rate of running injuries if people run a little less and skip a little more.
Gammon started training in earnest shortly after we connected. “Since the race is in November, I’m currently working on my training schedule for endurance and speed,” Gammon says. “I’m using an interval method where I skip for 30 seconds, run for 30 seconds and walk for 30 seconds. Once the weather cools down and as the half marathon gets closer, I will adjust those interval lengths accordingly.”
I recently had a chance to check in with Gammon to see how her training is coming along, and while she said skipping is a lot harder than she realized, she was still committed to her half-marathon mission. She’s really enjoying how different skipping is from running and can hardly wait for all the fun that race day is sure to bring.
Gammon’s zest for life and enthusiasm about her skipping challenge inspires me to no end. She’s a powerful example of how it’s never too late to break out of our routine to try something new. I hope you’ll join me in cheering her on from the virtual sidelines. Skip on, Ro! Go! Go! Go!
Looking for a new fitness challenge of your own? Ready to give skipping a try? Here are a few skip tips, whether you are skipping hand in hand with your kids down the sidewalk, skipping on the treadmill, or skipping for miles and miles at a time.
Stay low and go slow
Resist the urge to bounce high into the air. Low-to-the-ground skips, during which your feet barely leave the ground, are much more efficient. Keeping your arm movements to a minimum will also help.
Take it easy
There is no need to skip for miles right away. Instead, try blending short skipping intervals into walking and/or running routines, especially when you’re first starting out. You also can blend walking and skipping by walking two steps, skipping two steps, walking two steps, skipping two steps, and so on.
Don’t worry. Be happy
The most important thing to remember is that skipping is fun and uplifting by nature. The very best measure of a good skipping workout is not distance, speed or loft. Rather, it’s the quality of presence, freedom and/or glee experienced in each moment that has the power to turn a good skip into a great one.