Even if you are accustomed to exercising, you are probably not used to walking for up to eight hours a day on uneven, steep, or difficult terrain.
Set aside plenty of time to train, aiming to start at least six weeks before the event. Taking a little time to work out your training plan for the coming weeks will really pay off.
If you are a stranger to exercise, we would recommend that you build up gradually. It helps in this instance to think in terms of time, rather than distance. Several ten-minute walks a day for the first few days should help you to prepare your body for the event.
Before you start on a new training programme, it is always a good idea to consult with a health professional.
The best way to train for these challenges is to practise a range of activities as much as possible:
- Interval training – Interval training can help to improve your endurance levels. Alternating between walking and running will help you to train for the longer treks.
- Aerobic conditioning – Alternate between indoor and outdoor training. Training entirely on a treadmill or exercise bike will not adequately prepare you for outdoor conditions.
- Cross-training – Sports such as running, cycling, swimming, canoeing or skiing will all help in a cross-training programme. All activities use similar muscle groups to those that you will use on your challenge, and will help to increase your overall levels of stamina.
- Weights – Consider improving your strength by adding a weights session to your training programme. A focus on leg and buttock muscles is ideal but other muscle groups including abdominal and back region, shoulders, chest and arms should not be neglected.
Keeping a training diary…
… In which you log the type of activity undertaken and your achievements (for example: distance walked, time taken and even how you felt at the end of each session) will help keep you focused. It will also help maintain motivation by showing you how much you have improved as your programme progresses.
Avoid injury! Inadequate training and over-training can lead to injury, as can poorly fitting shoes and socks, incorrect walking posture, poor flexibility, inadequate hydration and poor nutrition.
- Remember to stretch.
- Stop if your body is hurting.
- Don’t over-train, or try to do too much too soon. Build up gently and don’t exhaust yourself.
- You have the right kit – good, comfortable boots and socks are essential.
- You use walking poles on more uneven ground.
It is important to remember that over training is a risk and will do more damage than good. Symptoms of over training include fatigue, low-grade fever, moodiness, irritability, decreased appetite and increased resting heart rate. Ensuring you give your body enough time to recover is important.
If your training regime lapses, don’t panic. Just pick up from where you left off. If you have lost enthusiasm, do something else that you enjoy, or get training buddy.
Keep hydrated! Whilst training, and during the event, it is important to monitor your fluid intake and remain hydrated. Adults require an average of 2 litres of fluid a day (excluding caffeine and alcohol) to ensure good health and biochemical functioning. This increases with hot weather and hard physical work. If you are drinking a great deal but not passing water regularly, you are probably dehydrated. Look also at the colour of your urine – dark yellow coloured urine is a warning sign that should not be ignored.
Are you too hot? Symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke are:
- Dizziness or light-headedness
- Confusion or inability to think straight
- Upset stomach and/or vomiting
- Fainting or passing out #
- Pale, clammy skin
- To avoid both dehydration and heat exhaustion:
- Drink plenty of cool water.
- Wear light, loose-fitting, breathable clothing.
- Take frequent, short breaks in cool shaded areas to allow the body to cool down.
- Avoid eating large meals when walking in hot environments.
- Avoid alcohol or beverages with caffeine. These make the body lose water and increase the risk for heat illnesses.