The long walk or hike is my favorite walk of the week, no question. Getting away into the trails is my very favorite get-away. You don't have to hike trails for your long walk, but it is a time to choose your favorite place to walk and make the most of it. It's a time when I get to do some of my favorite things. It's a time I get to spend relaxing, slowing down, taking in nature's beauty, planning projects, socializing with friends and generally just enjoying being alive. Did I forget to mention walking? Oh yes, most definitely that too. It's a time when I get very focused on my core, on my posture, on relaxing, and I know that when I come back I'm going to feel great.
All the things I do when I'm out on my long walk help to deeply nourish my mind and soul. But, what does my body get in return from all this fun I'm having? A number of things. In this article we'll talk about the enormous, mind and body altering benefits of the long walk and second, how to make your long walk as effective, efficient and enjoyable as possible.
The Benefits of the Long Walk for the Body
- Improves aerobic capacity for more efficient oxygen intake
- You'll become a hybrid, burning different fuels (including fat) more efficiently
- You'll learn to master your ChiWalking skills
- Your body will learn to be more relaxed, the benefit of which is immeasurable
- You'll become a master of your body, and be able to accomplish any goal you set for yourself
The Benefits of the Long Walk for the Mind
- Your will learn to focus and relax your mind
- You can enjoy yourself and your surroundings
- You will learn patience as you walk longer distances
- You'll learn to use your mind to overcome adversity
- You'll become a master of your mind, and be able to accomplish any goal you set for yourself
The long walk is all about taking the ChiWalking technique and holding it for increasingly longer periods of time.
There is no special measurement for a long walk. What is important is that once a week, you walk a little bit longer--measured either by distance or time--than any of the other individual walks in your weekly program. If you are training for a long distance event, your long walk may eventually build up to the event distance itself a few weeks before your event. You will also be walking at a more relaxed pace than your regular walks. For the long walk, you want to build distance and consistency, not speed.
Become a Hybrid
Keeping your pace well within your aerobic range for longer periods of time will elevate the quality of all your other walks. Increasing your aerobic capacity builds more extensive capillary beds in your muscles and lungs, which in turn trains your body to have a more efficient oxygen exchange. All of this talk is to get you to slow down and take it easy on your long walks. Like I said before. It's not the time for speed.
It's important to do your long walk at a slower speeds for good reason. Generally speaking, anytime you walk for longer than thirty minutes, your body begins burning it's stored fuel in a different way. Instead of being fueled primarily by glycogen (which is a quick-burning, fight-or-flight fuel) your body "learns" to burn the slower-burning fat contained in your muscle fibers and become rather stingy with burning your stored glycogen. It's like your body takes on the qualities of a hybrid car which burns a combination of stored fuel (electricity) and gasoline. In the case of your body, you're burning a mix of fat (stored fuel) and glycogen instead of burning mostly glycogen (gasoline).