Be prepared! Advice for pre & post the Cheltenham Challenge.
Take plenty of time to warm up before every work out. Most walkers experience some muscle soreness in their shins. Regularly exercising by pointing and flexing the foot and ankle rotations will help stretch and build the shin muscle. Consistency in training will also help relieve this temporary problem.
A walker lands on their heel with the foot at an approximate 45-degree angle from the ground, whereas runners land at about a 30-degree angle. This high degree of repetitive flexing of the shin muscle can create soreness when a walker increases their speed or mileage. You can try wearing ‘Skins’ on your lower legs to increase circulation, available from Up and Running.
Shoes and Socks
Hilly or Groundhog brands come recommended, below are a few things to keep in mind.
Socks: One of the new synthetic blends such as acrylic or COOLMAX® will draw perspiration away from the foot. A cotton sock is NOT a good choice because your foot will remain damp creating an unhealthy environment. There are specialized walking socks that contain extra padding along the bottom to provide extra cushioning and prevent blisters and chafing. They are available in most sporting goods stores.
Shoes: The number one consideration for shoes is the fit. Try a wide variety of brands to find one that feels the best. Try both shoes on with your walking socks prior to purchasing. Your heel should fit securely so that there is no excess movement. Because of the heel-to-toe rolling motion of the foot, the forefoot should be very flexible
The shoe should have a high toe box area to avoid cramping the toes, and should have a firm heal counter for stability. Look for heels 1/2 to 3/4 inch high.
Do not hesitate to try a flexible running shoe if a comfortable walking shoe cannot be found. A properly fitting running shoe is better than an ill-fitting walking shoe. Avoid cross trainers since they are made for lateral movement, making them too rigid for the rolling motion.
A good walking shoe should last you approximately 500 miles. Try the Solomon’s: they have a great range at Up and Running.
By adjusting your clothing and the use of Vaseline or Bodyglide, you can relieve this discomfort. As a walker learns to increase hip rotation, their feet will hit the ground almost directly in the center of the body. Because this motion is a bit more exaggerated than a regular walking stride, it can create very high friction between the inner thighs. Lubrication and wearing lightweight apparel with flat seams should help. Throughout your marathon training you may encounter a variety of hot spots.
It is important to wear the clothing you intend to wear in the marathon before event day. Try out your clothes on short training sessions to make sure they will be comfortable before you wear them to compete or on a long walk. A seemingly comfortable pair of shorts on a five-mile walk could be torture on mile twenty!
Lower Back Pain
If you experience any kind of pain, especially back pain, you should see a doctor immediately.
Your walking stride could be contributing to the pain. In many cases it is caused by what is known as “sway back,” which is an unnatural arch in the lower back. Positioning the pelvis in a neutral position, with the buttocks tucked under the hips, and regularly doing stretches should relieve the pain. Have your trainer take a look at your form to help you make any necessary adjustments.
Sometimes pain in the joints and back is a signal for new shoes. If your shoes are the culprits, buy a new pair. It is worth the investment!
Food As Fuel
Always think of eating as refueling your body.
Weight loss, body shaping, and toning are often the reason people choose to walk. The subject of eating, dieting, and nutrition is, at best, controversial, and opinions about it are very diverse. Here are some things to consider.
High-carbohydrate, low-fat meals are the best fuel. Concentrate on eating slow burning carbohydrates such as fruits, cereal, and whole grains to keep your energy supply balanced.
These foods provide energy as well as vitamins and minerals and are stored in the muscles as glycogen. During hard exercise these glycogen calories are burned to meet your body’s energy needs.
Protein is an important part of your recovery. Don’t make the mistake of trying to eat low fat by cutting out all sources of protein. Try to include foods such as legumes, skim milk, low fat yogurt and cheeses, chicken and fish. The current general guidelines are that a person’s diet should be 50%-70% carbohydrates; 15%-20% protein; and no more than 20%-25% fat.
During long walks it is very important to keep your energy stores up. On your long training walks experiment with foods that you can carry along that will keep you feeling strong. Many find some of the high-energy sports nutrition bars are effective while others prefer fruit.
Keep in mind that part of your training is practicing all aspects of participating in the marathon so you are prepared for marathon day.
Thirst and Fluids
By the time you feel thirsty, you are well on your way to dehydration.
Thirst is a poor indicator of your body’s need for fluid. Dehydration will affect your performance. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after the training session. Water is a crucial part of your preparation and will also help you recover after your walk and keep up your energy level.
Try walking with a bumbag that has space for a water bottle or a camel-Pak, various sizes are available from Up and Running.
Book a massage for the days after the marathon walk or even before. They really can ease the pain.
Massage people we recommend:
Anna: 07791 558116
Additional strength training and advice can also help: contact Dan Fivey on 07709169997