"A journey of a thousand miles will inevitably include having pebbles in your shoes. Bend over, take off your shoe, shake out the pebbles and put your shoe back on. Keep walking, you will get there."
18 Tips for Long Distance Walking / Walking in a Walk-a-thon
Every few months Toronto has various organizations that organize walk-a-thon style events, usually raising money or awareness for cancer or various other ailments. Some of these activities include walking extremely long distances over 1 day, 2 day or even 3 day periods. However to do those kinds of extreme walking distances not everyone is up to snuff and perhaps should be warned that they should be "in good shape" before the Big Walk and should be trying to be "a bit more energetic and healthy" in the days leading up to the big event. Thus here are 18 tips for taking part in such a long journey. Many of the tips below are also handy for long distance hiking.
I have split these tips into several categories, what to do "Before the Big Walk", what to do the "Day of the Big Walk", and "After the Big Walk".
Before the Big Walk
1. Keep a balanced diet. At least one item out of every meal should be vegetables.
2. Start going for walks every day to get yourself in shape (and double check the condition of your shoes, see #11 below).
3. Start eating smaller more frequent meals. Four to five are better for you than three big meals as it is easier for your body to digest smaller amounts.
4. Aim to eat fresh produce, especially fresh veggies - the more colourful the better, as unusual colours have a greater variety of nutrients.
5. Eat a variety of meat products. Beef, chicken, pork, fish, liver, oysters and mussels. This way you are getting a wider variety of nutrients.
6. Hydrate every day. A long journey is harder on the liver and your sweat glands, so it is important for both that you are well hydrated on the days before the Big Walk.
7. Make sure you have cushioned, breathable socks. Aim for comfort.
8. Moisturize your feet regularly. Check for any recent injuries and make sure they have healed fully.
9. Do NOT have a pedicure before the Big Walk. You are not there to show off your feet.
10. Clip your toenails short. Lots of long distance walkers lose toenails if they are too long due to the constant rubbing of the inside of their shoes on their toes.
11. Make sure you have TWO sets of comfortable walking / hiking shoes. If you know the terrain is going to be more rugged, be practical and get hiking boots. Having a second set is smart in case the first set has any problems.
|Mr T during an United Way Walk-a-thon in downtown Toronto|
12. Take time once in awhile to stretch your legs a bit so you can avoid cramping.
13. Hydrate at least every 10 minutes. If going up rugged terrain, hydrate every 5 minutes.
14. Bring food and eat some of it while you walk. Don't worry about the calories, bring something that packs lots of energy in it.
15. Pace yourself. You don't have to be the fastest person in a walk-a-thon. It is not a race. Travel at a reasonable pace and take your time if need be.
After the Big Walk
16. Finish your walk with a cool-down. Stretches. Brief jogging in one spot. Talk to other people while hydrating / stretching.
17. When you are finished walking, drink a bottle of juice, chocolate milk, something with lots of vitamins in it. Korean vitamin drinks with ginseng in them for example are awesome. Even V8 juice is good if you like that stuff (I cannot stand V8). My personal preference is chocolate milk.
18. Daydreaming about a hot shower afterwards? Make it a cold shower or a cold swim instead. Having a cold shower reduces any swelling that may have occurred during your walk. Myself a cold relaxing swim is best, followed by a BBQ in the backyard.
Don't forget to eat afterwards!!! Preferably something with lots of nutrients and vitamins in it.
Happy Walking! :)