We’re back with the second instalment of our ‘Get walk ready!’ blog series offering useful information as well as tips for you to try out as you prepare for a walking holiday.
So you’re considering or maybe you’ve already booked a walking holiday… now what? As you eagerly anticipate exploring the world on foot, don’t just sit back with a travel guide (not that there’s anything wrong with perusing a good guide book), but take this time to start getting fit for your future adventure.
As we’ve said before, you don’t have to be ridiculously fit to enjoy a walking holiday, but conditioning yourself to go longer distances will definitely make the experience more fun.
How to prepare your body
The first steps are just that… walking, and more walking. So basically pull on your trainers, go outside and get moving.
Simply put, the most important thing to do is ensure you can tackle the distance. As some trips are more challenging than others, at Ramblers Walking Holidays we use our grade system to give you a clear idea about the mileage, terrain and altitude. You’ll ultimately want to gear your training toward that.
Start with a base distance
If you’re new to walking or unsure of your fitness, this may mean going around your neighbourhood at an easy pace. If you’re already active, head to a nearby park with your step counter on and begin with two miles (about 4,000 steps) a day. Of course, someone who’s loved walking their whole life would probably be comfortable at the outset doing 5,000 or more steps.
Wherever you’re starting at, listen to your body. You can always modify your training plan if it’s too easy or difficult, so don’t push yourself or be afraid of making changes.
Make it a routine
Aim for at least 30 to 60 minutes of walking most days of the week. If you don’t have that window of time to devote, try breaking this into smaller increments of 10 or 15 minutes. Can you walk to the shop, to work or to see a friend? Perhaps you can get off the bus a stop earlier and add some distance that way. These things will help you turn your walking into a habit. Plus, as you start to feel the benefits of regular walking, it will become easier to do. Going daily gives you the best results, but it is okay to take a rest day or two each week.
Build your daily mileage
Try to increase your walking distance over time, gradually working toward 10,000 steps a day (about five miles) and also setting a brisker pace. If the weather is bad, it’s still a great idea to get out there so you can acclimate yourself to handling all sorts of conditions.
Consider the terrain
If your walking holiday is on coastal paths then tackle some sandy tracks. If you’ll be traversing rocky trails or forests with abundant vegetation, go on treks emulating that terrain. Some core-muscle strength exercises will also benefit your balance.
If your walking holiday is in the hills or includes tough ascents and descents, you’ll want to condition yourself for the stamina and endurance required. Find a steep road or even stairs with a significant height gain. Then walk up and back down. Do this once initially and work towards repeating it, perhaps four to six times. You should also add some resistance training, including squats and lunges to get your legs and gluts fired up.
Take it to the next level
Go on a long walk – in the range of two to four five – every seven days or so. You can pack a lunch as well as explore scenic local trails to make it fun and interesting. The goal is to build up to a half or full day of walking, as specified by the grade of your holiday. This allows you to assess how your body feels and how your feet fare, plus you can make adjustments as well as factor in time you might need for a bit of rest and recovery.
As it gets closer to the time of your departure, be sure to do some of these longer walks on successive days. Getting your body used to waking up tired and having to go again is good both as a physical and mental training exercise.
The big picture
Ideally you’ll devote six to eight weeks to preparing for your walking holiday. This measured progression over time makes it more likely you will be able to cope with the distance, terrain and altitude. And the best news is that regular walking leads to improvements in everything from resting heart rate and blood pressure to lung function and muscle strength, while elevating your spirits, eliminating stress and boosting your confidence!
As this blog only offers a general overview about training for walking holidays, next time we’ll dig deeper into preparing for our most challenging trips – conquering major peaks and ridges at the high grades of 7, 8 and 9.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for more information check out ‘How to hit refresh: Creating a positive mindset for your walking holiday’, along with some of our past fitness articles including ‘10 easy steps you can take right now’, ‘How fit do I need to be for a walking holiday?’ and ‘Keep on walking and keep fit with leg exercises at home’.