Below is a sample weekly, long-walk upgrade for a half marathon (13.1 miles). This assumes being able to walk three miles comfortably to start. If you're just staring, you should start with one mile and increase slowly. Two weeks before your half marathon, your weekly long-walk should be least 11 miles.
- Week 1: 3 miles
- Week 2: 3.5 miles
- Week 3: 4 miles
- Week 4: 4.5 miles
- Week 5: 5 miles
- Week 6: 5.5 miles
- Week 7: 6 miles
- Week 8: 6.5 miles
- Week 9: 7 miles
- Week 10: 7.75 miles
- Week 11: 8.5 miles
- Week 12: 9.5 miles
- Week 13: 10 miles
- Week 14: 11 miles
- Week 15: 5 miles
- Week 16: 13.1 mile (half marathon)
A training program that pushes you harder than your body feels comfortable with is a not a good program for you. Taking plenty of time to get the conditioning you need is important and will make the event a day to enjoy.
Step 4Practice good walking technique. Distance walking, like all sports, is great for you when you do it well. It can also cause pain and injury if you are not using good biomechanics. We can all improve how we walk for greater efficiency and for the long-term health of your knees, hips and feet. Here are a few walking tips:
- Engage your core muscles. You don't want to rely only on your legs to get you to the finish line. Utilize your strong core muscles by doing a vertical crunch and keep your core muscles engaged while you walk. This will connect your body to your legs so that your whole body, the twist of your spine, the swing of your arms, is helping to move your body forward.
- Lean slightly forward from your ankles. With a very slight forward lean you will engage gravity to propel you forward. Feel your shoulders slightly pushing the air in front of you. Make sure your chin is slightly tucked so that your head does not fall back.
- Shorten your stride. Most people walk with a longer stride than is optimal for efficient walking. A short stride with a more rapid cadence is better for energy efficiency than a long stride and slower cadence. Whenever you feel tired, shorten your stride again.
Long-distance walking will ask you to dig deep into yourself to train regularly and to plan wisely. The skills, focus, and confidence you gain will last you a lifetime.
Sign up for a walking event.
Katherine Dreyer is the author of ChiWalking: Fitness Walking for Lifelong Health and Energy. For more information visit www.chiwalking.com.