I’m doing a three-day, 60-mile walkathon this summer. I’ve done 10K runs before, but this is the first time I’m going such a distance. How should I be training? Also, how much should I be stretching? Someone told me I need to stop and stretch for five minutes for each hour of the walk — Is this true?
Preparing for your 3-day walk takes consistent training and logging to track your distance. You should focus mainly on distance — and not speed — for your endurance walk of 60 miles. If you already have a base of mileage built up (like 3 days a week of 3-4 miles), then you need to build from that base and increase the mileage. Taper down the distance just before the event.
First, you need to invest in two pairs of serious walking shoes. Blisters and chafing can become a big problem with ill-fitting shoes, no matter how many miles you are prepared to do. Train with the same shoes you plan to be walking in for the event. Break them in sufficiently so they are soft enough to mold to your feet, but supportive enough to take you the distance. Save one pair of these shoes for the event and wear the other pair for the rest of your training. Bring both pairs of shoes with you to the event so you can swap between the two. Use your training time to experiment with various socks to find the most comfortable. One tip: stay away from 100% cotton socks that stretch out and bunch up when wet from perspiration.
Each time you begin a training session, walk at a steady pace for 5-10 minutes to warm-up your muscles and joints, then quicken your pace. Make it a habit to keep your head up, your chest lifted, back straight and pull your abdominals in with every exhale. Swing your arms naturally with your stride and practice maintaining this posture even when you are fatigued.
Each week increase your distance by about 10 percent. Train 4-5 days a week giving your body days off in between so you don’t get injured or over tired. One example of a training is to walk 4-5 miles on Monday/Wednesday/Friday, taking off Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday. Use Sunday as your heavy mileage day. Begin with 6 miles on Sunday and increase to 8 then to 10 then to 12. Take Monday off and continue with your workout days being Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday the following week and so on. Your longest walking day and days off will keep changing, but it gives you adequate recovery time.
Stretching is good any time you feel you need it, but it is very important to do at the end of every walk.
Hamstring Stretch: Keep your knees straight and bend forward at the hips. Gently pull your chest toward your thighs to feel the stretch in the back of your thighs.
Quadriceps Stretch: Stand facing a fence, hold on with one hand for balance. Bend your right knee and grasp around the ankle. Bring your heel toward the buttock and point your tailbone down toward the floor. Hold the knees close together feeling the stretch in the front of your right thigh. Repeat on the other leg.
Calf Stretch: Facing a fence, place both hands on it. Position the ball of your right foot against the bottom of the fence with the heel on the ground. Place your left leg behind you. Press some of your body weight over your right foot until you feel your right calf stretching. Repeat on the other leg.
Shoulder and Chest Stretch: Stand with your feet hip width apart, abs pulled in. With both hands, hold a towel behind your body. Hands should be as close as possible to each other. Gently raise your arms up until you feel the stretch across your chest and in the front of your shoulders.