General Advice for Distance Walkers
Train ahead…so you know what to expect
Try to complete one or two walks per week. Our group will be walking at a pace slightly under 4 miles per hour. There will be rest stops about once every hour and longer rest stops at Eagle Rock and Montclair. So, 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. Keep in mind, our trail will be almost entirely pavement which is a hard surface. While not the ideal surface for hiking, your walks should be mostly on a similar hard surface to be prepared for the event. A hard-packed trail such as a towpath is also a good alternative and nice change of scenery.
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 Coolmax fiber moisture-wicking socks (e.g. Thorlo) or wool socks (e.g., Smartwool) that are designed for walking or running. Medium thickness should be fine but you may go with your personal preference.
You may also consider prepping your feet with a lubricant. Old advice is use either talcum powder or Vasoline petroleum jelly. There are newer products on the market that prevent chafing such as Body Glide which you may want to try.
Its 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. 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 monotonous 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 and we are fortunate to have many walkers joining us for the last leg which will provide some much needed enthusiasm and mental energy – especially walking down Broadway on our way to Penn Station.
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.