For three Navajo athletes, hard work is “well” worth it.
Fort Defiance, AZ — There is no fanfare. There is no glory. There is hard work and sacrifice.. For three Navajo female "fitness fanatics" workouts continue on a daily basis.
Everyday when Sylvia Tyler, Ora Mitchell and Elfreida Barton don their workout gear, the trio challenge themselves. They come from different walks of life, but incorporate running, fitness, wellness and being healthy into their lives.
They all agree that the camaraderie of the events with different people is rewarding.
Barton said, “I find that I have friends in the running world that are from different areas of the Rez who remember you from other events. They are glad to see you and all we talk about is how we are racing. It is a great way to make friends, motivate others and stay in wellness.”
Elfreida Barton is a fitness and wellness buff. She teaches fitness classes five days a week, while directing the Fort Defiance Wellness Center. She also leads an 8K run twice a week.
Barton competed in her first triathlon this past June and in the Narbona Pass Classic this past July. The 41-year-old Barton finished second place in the 40-44-age group in the triathlon in Gallup. She completed the 375-yard pool swim, 20K bike and 5K run in 1-hour, 40-minutes, 39-seconds.
“I highly recommend our fitness fanatics to enter to keep them motivated to train and stay fit,” she said. “I set these goals to keep me focusing on a positive goal that keeps me working out. Most people who workout at in a gym may not set goals to enter competitive events and they can fall away from exercising daily or diligently to reach a high level of fitness. I love a challenge.”
Accepting another challenge, Barton competed in the grueling Narbona Pass Classic. She placed 115th taking third in the 40-49 age category. Barton negotiated the terrain n 62 minutes, 13seconds.
She said, “It took me three years to train and be confident to run. This race is the highlight of races on the Rez, due to the incline pathway that lasts about two miles up.”
She said she encourages fitness enthusiasts or people who love to work out to compete.
“Even if you power walk the 5K,” Barton remarked, “it only keeps you on guard to eat better, train harder and smart. Also, maintain a peace of mind to focus on your life to live healthy or deal with life’s stresses.”
Barton said competing in the triathlon was a test to see if she can complete such a challenging event.
“I trained at least twice a day, five days a week, training fitness classes and leading 8K running sessions,” Barton said. “My only concern was to finish the swimming even since I don’t swim as much. It requires more work for the muscles and cardiovascular system due to the water resistance and full body use. I did well doing the back stroke.”