walking fitnessBy Dr Joe

It’s fair to say I have gone crazy. Why?

I signed up for a 60-mile walking challenge. Yes, I am certainly losing my marbles. My daughter thinks I am having a midlife crisis. I probably am.

My daughter has straightaway reached the conclusion that I won’t be able to do it. Therein lies another level of the challenge. I need to prove her wrong whilst actually proving it to myself that I can.

The terrain involved has variable gradients. It’s not a walk-on-flat for 60 miles by any means. There are some slopes. Some of the slopes are quite steep.

But that is a good thing.

It is not a challenge if all you are going to do is walk-on-flat.

> It’s a challenge because you want to challenge your cardiovascular organs. Get the old heart pumping with vigour and more efficiently.

If you are up for a challenge like this, then your muscles are going to need extra nutrients and oxygen on the day. These would be needed for the inevitable increase in metabolism. Your heart and lungs would have to up their game to meet those aerobic needs, otherwise you hit a wall.

When people hear about a walking challenge, they tend to be quite dismissive. The popular view is that it is not a challenge because there is no running involved. Coupled with the fact we walk every day; a walking challenge is viewed as nothing extraordinary. Well, they are wrong!

> Long distance walking is an endurance test. To use the old cliché, if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

The point is this: even though you walk every day, you need to prepare for a walking challenge. Otherwise you would be in for a shock – can’t complete the task on the day.

Yes, it’s not the end of the world if you fail to complete but this “little misadventure” will go down as a personal failure on your part.

Little things like these can affect us psychologically. You don’t want to keep thinking: “I wish I trained a little bit more, I would have…”

In order to bring some method to the madness, I sort to do ta 30-mile challenge first. This is a nice forerunner to the 60-mile one. A kind of confidence booster, if you like.

It’s time to rise up to the challenge.

With that in mind, below is a 12-week walking plan that should ensure you succeed with this fitness challenge.

walking fitness challenge plan

Weeks 1 & 2

Day of the Week Activity
Monday Rest day
Tuesday 30 minutes walk & 15 minutes Resistance Training
Wednesday Rest day
Thursday 30 minutes walk & 15 minutes Resistance Training
Friday Rest day
Saturday 1 hour walking
Sunday 1 hour walking

 

Weeks 3 & 4

Day of the Week Activity
Monday Rest day
Tuesday 30 minutes walk & 15 minutes Resistance Training
Wednesday Rest day
Thursday 30 minutes walk & 15 minutes Resistance Training
Friday Rest day
Saturday 1 hour and Half walking
Sunday 1 hour and Half walking

 

Weeks 5 & 6

Day of the Week Activity
Monday Rest day
Tuesday 30 minutes walk & 15 minutes Resistance Training
Wednesday Rest day
Thursday 30 minutes walk & 15 minutes Resistance Training
Friday Rest day
Saturday 2 hours walking
Sunday 2 hours walking

 

Weeks 7 & 8

Day of the Week Activity
Monday Rest day
Tuesday 30 minutes walk & 15 minutes Resistance Training
Wednesday Rest day
Thursday 30 minutes walk & 15 minutes Resistance Training
Friday Rest day
Saturday 2 hours and half walking
Sunday 2 hours and half walking

 

Weeks 9 & 10

Day of the Week Activity
Monday Rest day
Tuesday 60 minutes walk & 30 minutes Resistance Training
Wednesday Rest day
Thursday 60 minutes walk & 30 minutes Resistance Training
Friday Rest day
Saturday 2 hours and half walking
Sunday 2 hours and half walking

 

Weeks 11 & 12

Day of the Week Activity
Monday Rest day
Tuesday 60 minutes walk & 30 minutes Resistance Training
Wednesday Rest day
Thursday 60 minutes walk & 30 minutes Resistance Training
Friday Rest day
Saturday 3 hours walking
Sunday 3 hours walking

 

Now you should be ready for any walking exercise challenge anyone throws at you.

30-mile challenge? 60-mile challenge? Bring it on…

> Your heart is ready, your lungs are ready and your muscles are ready. Heck, your mind is also ready

Walking Fitness Challenge Plan – Why is resistance training included?

It’s a good idea to include resistance training because it helps a great deal with endurance. Resistance training helps to tone and build muscle. If you don’t want to build muscle, that’s okay too. Simply tone them up.

Just toning up, keeping the muscle fibres in shape helps to preserve muscle mass. You are going to need some muscles, especially lower body muscles, during this fitness challenge.

And the muscles need to adjust their strength and endurance capability before the day.

The resistance training has been kept deliberately short. In truth, you don’t need more than that for this to work. It’s an aerobic challenge but as the challenge advances, there is inevitably going to be an anaerobic element to it.

Getting your body ready for that is important.

walking shoes for walking challenge

 

What do you need for resistance training?

Any of these will do. You only one, just the one. So, don’t freak out.

  • Free weights e.g dumbbells, kettlebells
  • Machine weights – unless you have a well equipped home gym, a proper gym will be needed if this is the route you want to go.
  • Resistance bands – like the type you have in wonder core machine. Rowing machine will fall into this category too.
  • Your own body weight – like pull-up bars, push-ups

I have kettle bells and that’s what I like using.

Walking Fitness Challenge Plan Extra tips:

  1. Your chosen walking circuit should have some inclines on it. No point walking on the flat all the time. It’s fine but it’s not particularly challenging enough.

2. If you are working night shifts, try to do the walks before going to bed or set your alarm to wake you up a little earlier than you normally would and do the walk before going to work at night.

3. It’s good idea to have more than one practice circuit. The variety will help to keep things fresh which prevents boredom and mimics what’s likely to happen on the challenge day. Since I started my training program, I have discovered some other routes in my neighbourhood out of sheer desperation to vary my walking routes. This is great and indeed refreshing.

4. Even though the training program has been set up for alternate day walking, there is nothing wrong with you walking on some rest days to get your fitness up a gear. The more you do, the fitter you will become before D-day.

5. Pace is important. A faster walk challenges your heart and lungs more. Don’t just make it a leisurely stroll. Up the pace, swing your arms, take shorter strides on some walks and then your regular strides on others.

6. But vary the style. If you can maintain a pace where you are unable to complete a sentence especially when you are going up a slope, then you are indeed improving your fitness in readiness for the ultimate. Maintain that pace for at least 3 miles at a time.

7. This might be obvious, but don’t forget to drink plenty of water during this preparation phase. I prefer water as I tend to preach on this site but you may use isotonic fluids if you prefer.

8. The trekking training plan has been worked out in hours. However, it is a good idea to actually know how many miles you are walking. How do you do that? Take the car on your walking circuit if it is along a vehicular route and use your car’s mileometer to know exactly how many miles the route is.

On the other hand you can use any navigational device that tracks your mileage. This is important as you need to judge how you feel after trekking a certain mileage. It makes sense to start adjusting your fitness level as the training progresses.

As a guide a 5-mile walk would take about 1 hour 30 minutes. Therefore the 3-hour walk on the training schedule is actually going to be a 10-mile trek. You could do it under 3 hours if you pace yourself a little faster.

9. Whilst training for a long distance hike, it’s a good (great) idea to do two-thirds of the intended long distance before the day. For instance, whilst I was training for the 30-mile walk, I walked 21 miles as you can see from the screenshot off my walking app below.

walking stats on app

Doing two-thirds of the distance prior to the day is a huge confidence booster especially when you are dealing with self-doubt issues. Most people who are preparing for a long distance trek for the first time will have moments of self-doubt unless they are already physically fit.

So, don’t worry, if you are having those wobbly moments when you question yourself if you will be able to hack it on the day. It’s normal.

But a great way to deal with it is to employ this strategy and voilla, your confidence will go through the roof.

10. Leave at least a 3-day break before the day of your challenge. You need to rest the muscles and allow your body to recover before the real thing. That way you will be fresh and ready to conquer.

11. If you are already at your ideal weight, you will need to up your calorie intake on your exercise days especially the weekends. Otherwise you will lose weight. The best way to do this is to increase your carb intake on your exercise days to enable your muscles meet their energy needs.

Obviously for those whom fat loss is their goal, you don’t need to increase your carb intake. Eat more vegetables and you will see your weight dropping over the 12-week training period and of course on the challenge day, you are definitely going to burn fat.

Good luck everyone!

Suggested further reading:
What trekking shoes should you use? Continue Reading >>

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