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Long Distance Walk Planning and Strategy

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Updated April 19, 2004

Choosing your Event
Planning begins by setting an event as a goal. Considerations include time of year, distance, transportation to the event, event pace requirements, altitude and hill profile, climate. If you are going to "do it yourself" in walking across country, you need to prepare by researching routes and trails and contacting those who have done similar feats. Marathon and Ultra Event Calendars

Routes
Study the course maps to know what services are provided along the way and what you must bring with you. Know the terrain and at what point there are hills, pavement, natural trail, shade, full sun. When possible, drive the course ahead of time to familiarize yourself with it.

Clothing and Shoes
Plan for the layers you will need given the climate and terrain. Choose wicking fabrics that will allow your skin to breathe and cool itself. Choose your shoes or boots and wear them on your long training days to ensure they will work over distance. Packs should be tested on your longer training days to ensure you can carry it comfortably over long distance and it has the capacity needed.

Fluids
Train with the water, sports drink, food and snacks you will be using at the event and do not deviate from it during the event. Water is all that is needed for events 20K and under, but for longer events an electrolyte replacement sports drink may be good. Diluting it or leaving out some of the sugar can make it easier on the stomach. Never feel thirsty, keep drinking steadily throughout the event.

Food
Have your snacks pre-packaged and perhaps labeled by time to be eaten. On ultramarathon distances you need to eat fat and protein in addition to the carbohydrates provided by sports gels or energy bars. You may want to avoid fancy products which are formulated for shorter distances and power sports and can cause digestive problems over longer distances. You can get those from candy bars with nuts, trail mix, and peanut butter sandwiches. Train with the same food and snacks you will use during the event.

Rest Breaks
The conventional wisdom is that any breaks you take should be short - to use the bathroom, eat a snack and drink without choking, tie your shoes or doctor blisters. The body stiffens up pretty fast during breaks and it can take several minutes to get back into the swing of walking after a long break. Take walking breaks instead - keep walking but at a very slow pace.

Take Care of Your Feet
Your feet are your most important equipment. On your long training days you should have been experimenting with preparations, socks, etc. to prevent blisters. Strategies include lubricants, wicking and/or double layered socks, moleskin, sports tape or blister block pads over areas prone to blister. Along the walk, stop at the first sign of hot spots and doctor your foot with tape, blister block bandages, etc.

Hundred Miler Checklists: Make sure you have all of your stuff the day of the event.
How to Prevent and Treat Blisters

Fueling for Marathons and Ultrawalks
Clothing and Gear for Marathons and Ultrawalks
How to Reach 100 Miles in 24 Hours by Kevin Setnes

Next page >> Hazards, First Aid, Recovery

The Long Walks
Long Walks
Across a Continent
Ultramarathon Walks
Multi-Day Walks
Centurion - 24 and 18 Hr Walks
Relays
Training
Planning
Hazards and Recovery
Humor and Discussion

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