Five valleys walk -heading

Walk training schedule: gearing up for 21 miles.

My usual ‘long’ rambles vary between 8 to 13 miles in length. I find any distance greater than 10 miles fairly taxing. And my usual walking pace is 2 miles an hour. Yes, that includes photography, snack and toilet stops, but it’s pretty slow. Also I am in the habit of stopping after 7 miles or so for a lunch break.

The Meningitis Stroud Five Valley’s Walk is going to challenge me in a couple of ways:

  1. Distance: The Five Valley’s Walk is 21 miles long. If I am going to complete it, I will have to improve my stamina.
  2. Speed: The registration desks open at 8:30am and pack up at 5:50pm. That gives me nine hours to complete 21 miles. I need to improve my pace.

But how do you train for walking? It’s not something I’ve really thought about. So I turned to the experts for help. The most useful guides I found are geared for runners training for half or full marathons. But among these I discovered a number of training plans for walkers.

Training plans for long-distance walking.

Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Training Guide – Walker’s Program: This contains a lot of useful information and a training programme is suggested at the bottom of the page. The downside of this programme is it only goes up to 13 miles and the training bouts are described in minutes, rather than in distances. Personally, I find it hard to work out how you judge a walk to the minute, unless you are using a treadmill or walking short laps around a circuit.

Marathon walking: the walking site provides a range of training schedules, along with a host of useful advice. This provides training plans for both half and full marathons, with different schedules for people starting with different levels of fitness and experience. Best of all, the training goals are listed as miles, rather than minutes, making it easier to plan your walking route.

My training schedule is a bit of a pick and mix, based mainly on the marathonwalking.com schedules, with a bit of Hal Higdon thrown in.

My training week.

Monday Rest Day Just ordinary walking about the house, etc.
Tuesday 4-6 mile walk Speed walking: slightly faster than feels normal and comfortable.
Wednesday 4-6 mile walk Enjoying a fun walk at a comfortable pace.
Thursday 4-6 mile walk Interval training: a walk with a couple of miles of interval training included.
Friday Rest Day Just ordinary walking about the house, etc.
Saturday 10-16 mile walk Long walk, trying to keep a good pace and avoid long stops.
Sunday 2-6 mile walk A pootle walk at an easy pace.

When I started this programme, four weeks ago, I started with the lower mileage shown in brackets, and increased as the weeks progressed. My long walk is usually on a Saturday, but I can switch it to a Sunday if the weather is better on that day.

Slowing down before the BIG DAY

Opinions on this seem to vary, but most people seem to advise reducing the mileage walked, and the effort involved, in the lead up to the challenge walk. Some sites suggest your longest/hardest walk should be 3 weeks before the planned challenge. Others say two weeks. Some suggest only a few days. I have chosen to do my longest walk (18 miles) a fortnight before the Five Valley’s Walk. From now onwards I will be doing shorter distances.

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