At C&A, we promote a strong culture of health and wellness by providing employees many opportunities to get up and get moving. One of these opportunities occurred last month when a group of ambitious C&A employees participated in “Trek Up the Tower”, a community event presented by WELLCOM where participants race to the top of First National Tower in downtown Omaha. This event is competitive yet fun and consists of climbing 40 floors or 870 steps. Talk about a feat!
At this year’s event, C&A employee Kaitlyn Niechwadowicz, a Senior Learning & Development Specialist, competed in the Vertical Mile challenge. The Vertical Mile consists of completing the Trek 10 and 1/3 times to equal one vertical mile. Kaitlyn placed third overall in the Female Vertical Mile Division and first in her Age Division with a time of 1:22:14.
C&A: Congratulations, Kaitlyn! You’ve been training hard for this challenge. What steps did you take to prepare for 417 flights?
KN: I held myself to a pretty strict training schedule. It was four days of cardio on the stair stepper or running on an incline and two days of weight lifting. Each week that passed, I added an extra “round” of the Vertical Mile so by the time I was finished with my training I was up to 9 “rounds.” The consistency is what helped the most.
C&A: Did you face any challenges along the way or on the day of the event?
KN: Eating enough! With the increase in cardio I was always famished after workouts, so I had to figure out what to eat to sustain the work I was doing. I also researched what to eat the morning of the event because I was nervous and didn’t feel like eating, but knew I had to eat something. I went with oatmeal and a banana. It seemed to pay off!
C&A: How did you maintain a positive mindset given the challenge?
KN: To keep me distracted while doing cardio I started listening to podcasts and have now found several I really enjoy. In the days leading up to the event I started psyching myself out. I looked at the previous year’s record and it took the record holder a lot longer than I anticipated it to take me so I started second guessing myself and if I trained enough. My husband, friends, and co-workers were helpful in those moments by pumping me up and reminding me of the work I had put in.
C&A: What motivated you to take on this challenge and complete it?
KN: I love working out; it’s my “me time”, but I wasn’t feeling challenged anymore and needed something new. I did the Trek last year for the first time and saw some people dripping sweat, and I crazily thought “I want to be them next year.” When registration opened, I signed up and began training! During the event I refused to stop moving when I was in the staircase. I was able to rest between sets, so there’s no reason to rest while in the stairs. That mentality certainly helped me to keep climbing.
C&A: Are you ready for another Vertical Mile next year?
KN: We’ll have to see. I’m training for my first half marathon now, so we will see how that goes!
C&A: Why is it important to you to prioritize health and wellness?
KN: I have the type of personality that’s go, go, go. I enjoy being busy, however, if I don’t slow down and take time for myself, I get exhausted and grumpy (which nobody wants!). It may sound backwards, but when I work out, it re-energizes me. Going to the gym is my “me time” and allows me to decompress. After working here and hearing presentations from The Kim Foundation (C&A’s non-profit affiliate), it’s so important to not only prioritize our physical health but our mental health, too, and exercise takes care of both of those for me.
C&A: What advice would you give others who are considering embarking on a more active lifestyle?
KN: If I had to give advice to someone, it’s to find a way of exercising that is enjoyable to you. Now this doesn’t mean you won’t sweat or have sore muscles, but it shouldn’t feel like a chore. If it does, it isn’t sustainable. When you find a type of exercise you enjoy, it’s easy to do it consistently and to make it a habit. Additionally, if you have trouble holding yourself accountable, find a group fitness class or gym with a strong “family feel” because it’ll help you stay on track even on your “off days”.
C&A: Way to go Kaitlyn and good luck on your next adventure!
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