Train ahead…so you know what to expect
Try to complete one or two walks per week. Groups will be walking at a pace averaging about 3 miles per hour but the pace will vary depending on the terrain and the energy you want to expend. Suggested rest stops will be marked for about one every couple hours and longer rest stops for lunch, but you can decide what works best for you.
Our overall average will be about 3 miles per hour. Start training at a slow comfortable pace and work your way up to 4 miles per hour at least a week before the event. Its best to start with easy distance goals and work up to longer distances.
Most long distance walker/hikers agree that long walks are the best way to train. There are at least two solid reasons for training. Your feet will adapt by being tougher and you will have the mental confidence of knowing you can walk the distance. Also, try cross-training by either running or cycling occasionally to help increase your endurance and provide some needed variety in your routine.
Take Care of Your Feet…they’re all you’ve got
Considering the amount of hours on your feet and the number of steps, your focus should be on insuring your feet will hold up.
The first line of defense is to have a good pair of walking shoes. (You can read more about that here.)
The standards here are a good pair of moisture-wicking socks (wool socks (e.g., Smartwool) or Coolmax fiber (e.g., Thorlo) that are designed for walking or running. Medium thickness should be fine but you may go with your personal preference. A thin sock liner is also recommended (e.g., silk) as an extra protection against abrasion that may lead to blisters.
Consider bringing an extra pair with you to change to later in the walk, or if you feel a hot/tender spot developing on a foot. Most walkers appreciate a refreshing change when you need it most.
You may also consider prepping your feet with a lubricant. Old tried and true advice is to use Vaseline petroleum jelly (still commonly used) or talcum powder (not as popular these days). There are newer products on the market that prevent chafing, such as Body Glide, which you may want to try. After a long walk, you may want to reapply the lubricant.
It's more common to experience blisters than not, so you should be prepared. There are medications and ways of treating blisters which we will cover in the future. The good news is the more you walk the less likely you will experience blisters. You will know before a blister develops as your skin will seem warmer and more sensitive. When that happens you will probably want to plan on applying the right treatment at the next rest stop. See special tips section on blisters for more information.
Fight battle fatigue…win the war
A combination of hours on your feet, a long day, and your body constantly in action will take a toll on you physically and mentally. Cyclist that burn a great deal of energy have a term called “bonking” for complete exhaustion that can set in if you are not properly hydrated and monitoring your nutrition.
Even if you have done everything right, you will still feel extremely tired on a long walk. Just know you will not be alone walkers will be joining us for the last leg which will provide some much needed enthusiasm and mental energy.
Nevertheless, at the end your feet will be complaining and you will feel drained, but muscle aches and pains and shortness of breath are not as likely. The best remedy for recovery at the end will be to elevate your feet and get something to eat and drink before heading home.