Congratulations on making the decision to start walking for fitness. You are well on your way to a more energetic, leaner and healthier life. Walking is a great way to improve both your mental and physical well being. Making the decision to start walking was your first step. Now, it is time to create your own walking training plan.
Do you want to go 100 or 50 km or 25 km in June 2020 then you must create the appropriate training plan beforehand that works. Probably you are thinking why train if it is just walking. Well, sometimes some challenges are tough and training is a must no matter your current body endurance or target time. It is very important for you to train properly and build up endurance for long walks. The training will enable you to cope with the distance and provide you with the ability to recover after every walk.
Creating a walking training plan will help you to be physically fit for any walking challenge you have signed up, also will build up your stamina and will get your body to be used with the stress of being in a constant movement for long times. Even if you can avoid getting blisters or to feel physically tired, the long walks can bring us other weaknesses in your body that you may not know you have.
Assess Your Fitness
For any long walk at any distance creating a walking training plan, it is the best way to prepare to get miles in your legs on any type of terrain. How physically fit are you right now? This may be a difficult question to answer. If you haven’t exercised in a while then it is safe to assume that you should start slowly.
Gradually build your way up to an intermediate or advanced fitness plan. If you start too quickly or ask your body to do too much, you may wind up injured and in pain. So, your aim is to improve your strength and stamina so that you and your body is ready for any challenge you may have signed up.
A great way to assess where you are right now in terms of fitness is to get a pedometer and actually see how many steps you take on a daily basis. This information will also help you set your walking goals. For example, if you normally only take about 1000 steps each day that is a pretty sedentary life. Instead of aiming for the recommended goal of 10,000 steps you may want to first try to double or triple your daily steps. Ease into a walking program.
Some people may think that training for walking is not necessary. That is wrong thinking. Training is quite simple, mostly it is all about increasing your ability to give your body time to adapt, recover and come back form a walk stronger. It is that simple.
As I said before, if you are relatively new to walking, the trick is to build you up gradually and start a couple of small and easy walks before you start your big challenge. It is always a good idea to make sure you’re healthy enough for a walking training program. A routine physical and a conversation with a doctor will help you assess your current fitness level. It will also help you set realistic and safe goals.
Some Training Program Tips
However, do not over commit your training. Take it slowly and firstly build up your strength and then you will be able to focus on your challenge. Watch the video, even is a bit old, the tips are still in use today.
1. When you are training, wear your gear for the challenge. Imagine going for a very long walk with some new walking boots. So, wear in your training your new boots and make sure that they are the perfect shoes for your feet to avoid blisters. Also, carry your backpack comfortably – this will help to avoid any foot and back injuries.
2. You need to stay hydrated. Take with you 1 or 2 bottles of water some coffee or tea. Even if you think that you
have been drinking enough the chances are you probably did not so stay hydrated whilst training.
3. If you think that being alone in your training is not you, then find someone to train with you. Meet with that person, and plan together with the plan of the training with short and long walks, with a different type of terrain and so on. Sometimes, for some people having a person with them in the training time, can motivate them better than to be alone.
4. Try to plan some night walks. This will help you when you do your challenge to be prepared for the night time. think to invest in a headlamp.
5. Warm-up at least 10 minutes before any exercise you are taking and also, cool down 10 minutes afterwards.
6. Make sure that you will allocate sufficient time to get some thought and long walks. After that, you will know if you are ready for your challenge.
There are many other ways of training that will help you to prepare for your challenge. I have found these tips the easiest ones because we don’t need to overdo them. The training plan is to increase your mileage through various type of terrain or duration.
Do not forget to enjoy your training but don’t see it as a chore. Keep it fun and simple and try to enjoy every step and build a new experience for you. If you have missed a day of training it is not a big deal. Do not push yourself over the limits and do not be too hard on you.
The goals for your walking training plan will be always very individual and it is based on your current physical level. According to The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2 hours and 30 min of moderate walking per week.
That means 30 min x 5 days a week. That is not much, right? This is a realistic walking plan goal. Also, don’t feel bad if you can not walk 30 min a day, if this is too much at the beginning for you, start with 10 min. After 1-2 day you will push yourself to walk 30 min a day.
As an exercise to help you set your goals, let’s try these simple exercise. Write them down on a paper so you can have them in front of you every time you prepare yourself to go for a walk.
First, write down 4 actions that you need to take about your walking program but you still putting them off.
Second, answer then these questions: Why I haven’t taken action? Did I tried in the past and I have a bad memory about it? Be honest with yourself.
Third, write down all the pleasure moments of the action from the past. As an example, if you decided to go for a walking program, why do you still sit on the couch, watching movies and eat junk food?
Fourth, write down if there are some costs for your walking program. If you do not start your walking program what will happen to your body and health? If you don’t start your walking program, what is going to cost you next year? keep thinking of all the “IF”…How does it make you feel?
Fifth, write down all the changes you will achieve if you start your walking program. Make a huge list that will make you get excited. Take Action
Okay, this is where we really start getting into the actual planning of your training program. What is your daily walking goal? Health and fitness experts recommend a minimum of 10,000 steps each day. That amounts to about five miles and 2000 steps per mile. If you’re already walking about that much then you’ll want to set a higher goal. If you walk less than 10,000 steps that is a good first goal.
You can also set time, pace or weight loss goals. For example, you might want to walk for thirty minutes each day. Or you might want to walk three miles at a twelve-minute mile pace. Note, that is pretty fast walking! Or you might decide that weight loss is your goal and you want to lose a pound a week.
It is strategy time!
How are you going to achieve your goal?
For example, if your goal is to lose a pound a week then you might take a look at how many calories you have to burn walking to lose weight. (Note: you generally burn 100 calories per mile so walking five miles or 10,000 steps a day burns about 500 calories. That is a pound per week.
Also, consider when you’re going to walk and for how long. Schedule it into your day. You might decide to walk three times a day for 45 minutes or once a day for an hour. Take a realistic look at your goals and your lifestyle and create a strategy that works for you.
What do you need to achieve your goals? For example, you might want a pedometer. You may also want walking shoes, a treadmill or an MP3 player so you can walk and listen to music. Fitness journals or tracking applications can also be helpful and motivating.
Below is an example of a training walking plan as a beginner. You can follow it or you can just make your own.
Also, check out the plans that the British Heart Foundation article Walking and trekking training plans. They have plans for beginners, intermediate, experienced for 25k plans / 50k plans, 100k plans.
Creating a walking training plan is all about taking a look at what you want to achieve. Once you have a goal create a strategy to achieve it. Surround yourself with supportive people, tools and resources so you stay motivated and passionate about your walking success.
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Until next time,
Oana & Paula