Long-distance walking events are a great way to motivate yourself to start an exercise programme! I am currently in training for a 50 km event in the Brecon Beacons at the beginning of June & this will be the third time I have taken on this challenge. I have compiled a few tips developed through personal experience to help you should you decide to go down this route!
1. Training should concentrate on building a base of walking & then increasing mileage in a systematic fashion. If you have not tackled a walking challenge before, choose your event wisely & make sure that you have enough time to build up your mileage. Building your distance slowly should help to harden feet & hopefully prevent blisters from forming.
2. Avoid injury by not increasing your total weekly mileage or the distance of your longest walk by more than 10%. Find a training programme that you can fit into your everyday life to follow if you are unsure where to start, you will soon find out what works best for you. Most organised events will have a schedule that you can use.Tracking your progress using a GPS watch or app such as Map My Walk or Strava is a useful way to see if you are on target to complete your challenge.
3. Practise good walking technique:
- Engage your core (abdominal) muscles.
- Lean slightly forward from the ankles (not the waist!).
- Shorten your stride - a short stride with a more rapid cadence (turnover) is better for energy efficiency than a long stride with a slower cadence.
4. Train in the footwear & socks you will be wearing & carry what you will be taking on the event in your backpack. Gradually increase your distance so that your shoes are broken in & you are used to the weight you are carrying on your back.
5. Train with the water, sports drinks, food & snacks that you will be using at the event. Make sure you try different options on your short to medium walks to find out what works for you.
6. Take short breaks to avoid stiffening up - stop for too long & it will be harder to get going again!
7. Do some training walks on similar terrain to your event. If your challenge walk involves hills, make sure you include some hills when practising.
Some photos from my last long training walk on the newly completed Brean Down Way before my event in the Brecon Beacons on 3rd June 2017!