Whether you’re planning to join Len on Offa’s Dyke or you’re getting involved remotely via the virtual challenge, if you’re not already a long-distance walker it’s important to start training as soon as possible so that you can complete your walk comfortably without causing yourself any harm or injury.
Training for Long Distance Walks
A solid training base is vital for comfort and success on a long distance walk. Your training should focus on building a base of walking, then increasing your mileage systematically. You should also start to train wearing the gear you will be wearing during your long distance walk.
To reduce your risk of training injuries, start to increase your total mileage every week but do so by no more than 10% per week until you reach the approximate distance of your longest distance walk.
You will need to start soon as you will likely spend a few months training. However, by being methodical, you give your body ample time to build new muscle, improve blood supply, and increase your stamina and endurance.
Before You Get Started
There are a few things to consider before you start :
- Preparing to walk: Learn what you should do before you begin walking. This may include getting medical advice, investing in basic walking gear like shoes, clothing, and more.
- Walking Technique: Next, research good walking technique, making sure that your posture and gait are right, and that you’re using your arms properly.
- Schedule: Figure out how often you’re going to walk and how fast. Try walking on different terrains including up and down hills.
- Stay Motivated! Being Active, including walking, is so beneficial for your health and wellbeing and its important to keep active long term. Stay moving and avoid becoming sedentary again.
Do you need a Medical Check-Up Before Starting?
You may want to think about having a consultation with your GP if:
- You have been sedentary for a year or more
- You don’t currently exercise and are over age 65
- You have been diagnosed with heart trouble
- You are pregnant
- You have high blood pressure
- You have diabetes
- You have chest pain, especially when exerting yourself
- You often feel faint or have severe dizzy spells
- You suffer from any other long-term medical conditions
Other Things to Remember:
- Train for endurance, not speed: You will need to walk at a steady speed for hours. The average person can cover around 3 miles per hour – don’t try and exceed that.
- Gear Up! All your clothing, shoes, suncream, packs, etc. needs to be tested on your longer training days well in advance of the event. You don’t want anything that is new or untried at the event itself. Plan for the layers you will need given the climate and terrain. Choose wicking fabrics that will allow your skin to breathe and cool itself.
- Nutrition and Hydration: Train with the water, sports drinks, food, and snacks you will be using at the event and do not deviate from it during the event. Water is all that is needed for events of about 12 miles and under, but for longer events an electrolyte replacing drink is a good idea. Have your snacks pre-packaged and perhaps labeled by time to be eaten
- Take Care of Your Feet: Your feet are your most important equipment! On your long training days, experiment with preparations, socks, moleskin, plasters etc. to prevent blisters. Everyone’s feet are different and what works best is specific to the individual.
- Set Realistic Expectations and don’t give up! Don’t worry if, in the beginning, you’re not able to walk the whole distance of your walk. If you follow a steady training program, you’ll get there! The key is to walk distances that you can manage in order to avoid harm or injury and build up gradually until you reach your target.
- Don’t go it alone! Wherever you’re walking, make sure that someone else knows where you are at all times. Better yet, get a training partner and go together. However, it’s still important to let someone who’s not going on the walk know about where you’re planning to walk and what time you expect to finish.
Discounts for NHS Staff
If the weather is making you think twice about getting out in nature to walk, bear in mind that NHS staff are entitled to discounts at the following facilities:
- Greenwich Leisure LTD. facilities in Cardiff (facilitated by Cardiff Council)
- Cardiff International Pool
- The Sports and Social Club at UHW
- Bannatyne Health Club and Spa
- Rhondda Cynon Taf Leisure for Life Scheme