Signing up for a marathon is very exciting, but it does require a lot of advance preparation. This is not only limited to training, but also includes healthy nutrition, working out, ensuring that you have the right gear, and avoiding injuries. The best way to start is slowly and then work your way upward. Before you know it, you’ll be raring to go when the big day arrives! Follow this guide to learn all about how to prepare for a walking marathon.
Training Plans and Schedules
Choosing a training plan and schedule mostly boils down to personal choice. It is always helpful to time your walks or use a pedometer to count how far you’ve walked each day. Having a written plan is a great way to encourage yourself to stick to the schedule and push yourself a little bit each day. As you train, make sure that you do not overexert yourself, as it could lead to injuries. At the beginning of your training, start with a ten minute walk at an average pace. You should be able to manage a solid hour of walking at a faster speed after several weeks of training. If you have health conditions, especially those that affect the heart or respiratory system, consult with your doctor beforehand.
Preparation: Warm-Ups, Stretches and Nutrition
Warming up and cooling down is extremely important to help ease your muscles into and out of your walk. You can do this by stretching arm, leg and back muscles thoroughly before and after walking. Walking generally helps people to lose weight and stay in shape. However, as you burn off calories, they also need to be replaced in order to keep you properly nourished. Preparing home-made energy bars or drinking a freshly made fruit and protein smoothie are a couple of options to restore your energy without packing on the pounds.
While you train for the marathon, there are always a few days when you may not be inclined to head outside for a walk. Having a friend walk with you or even taking the dog along can help to keep you motivated. Make sure to keep yourself properly hydrated while you walk as well as afterwards. To build up your walking speed, start at the usual slow pace, and then try a faster pace for five to ten minutes. After this, go back to the slower pace for the rest of the walk.
Racewalking is faster than normal walking, yet slower than running. It is considered an athletic event and according to the rules, one foot should always be visibly contacting the ground. Racewalkers typically use short strides to help them move faster. The arms move back and forth as the racewalker moves, but they stay near the hips.
Shoes are perhaps the most important item for a walker. Before purchasing a pair, take a few minutes to walk around with them on in the store and test them out. They should be snug without pinching any part of the foot. Make sure to wear the socks you would normally wear for running. Good socks for walking are usually well padded and absorbent. If you walk often at night, wear reflective clothing so that drivers can see you. A waist pack is also helpful for carrying items like keys, a water bottle, snacks, and money. During the day, don’t forget to wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. When walking, keep a cell phone with you at all times in case of any emergencies.
Common Walking Injuries
Many walking injuries actually happen over a period of time rather than suddenly. This includes shin splints and blisters. They can be avoided by ensuring that you wear the correct, protective clothing, and take care not to overexert yourself. Ankle sprains are another common problem. If it occurs, call someone to help you, or go home on your own if you can manage it. After an injury, take the time to recover. When you have healed fully, start training again slowly with a full warm-up.
There are many marathons, both in the U.S. and in other countries that welcome walkers as well as runners. If you plan on participating, register in advance so that you have enough time to train. Beginners should start with a half marathon at first before aiming for a full one. Participating with friends or family members makes it more exciting too!