Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The 3-Day: Training ...

You've already registered, right?

Congratulations! (If you're still not sure if the 3-Day is for you, check out my post about Registration.)

Registration is a big step. The first big step. But once you've registered, you'll have many more steps to take between now and your chosen event.

Thousands of them, actually. You, my friend, need to prepare to walk 60 miles in three days.

So let's talk about the next topic on the list: Training.

But first, can I share a secret with you?

Lean in closer. I don't want the coaches to hear me.

I don't train.

The longest training walk I ever logged was 7 miles, but I wasn't training. I was walking with a friend who was training.

The longest training walk I ever logged for myself was 6 miles.

Six miles. Six measly miles.

But here's the key: I walk every day. My typical morning walk is 3.5 miles. Some days, I go for two walks. Some days, I go for three.

I walk. A lot.

So am I telling you that you don't need to train?

No, that is not what I'm saying. If you're not used to walking, you absolutely must train. You must acclimate your feet to massive amounts of mileage. You must also break in two pairs of shoes.

Why, you ask? Allow me to tell you a story:

One night in camp, lying in my tent, I heard a woman in the tent next to me on her cell phone. I wasn't eavesdropping. It's pretty hard to not hear people when the only thing separating you is two layers of nylon.

But she was telling the person on the other end of the line that she had a blister. Of course, blisters are common on the 3-Day. (And you'll be provided with plenty of blister-care products at the pit stops and at camp, not to worry.) But Ms. Next Tent didn't just have your garden-variety blister.

Oh, no. Ms. Next Tent was reporting that she had a blister ... that covered the entire ball of one foot.

Are you wincing? I'm wincing.

Do you know what else Ms. Next Tent was reporting?

That she hadn't trained at all. Not a step.

Clearly, Ms. Next Tent was not planning on walking the next day of the event.

And, if I had to wager, I'd put money on the fact that she probably didn't walk any kind of distance with any regularity.

I might even double down on the fact that she got a pedicure before the event.

Sandal season might arrive one of these days, but do yourself a favor: skip pedicures between now and the event.

Take care of your feet, of course, but trust me, you do not want to embark on a 60-mile trek with soft, pink feet.

It's not sexy to say, but on the 3-Day, calluses are your friends. Start developing them now.

So, to sum up:


The 3-Day offers training schedules. Yes, they seem rigorous. They are rigorous. Do you need to follow them to the letter? The coaches would like you to think so. But it's not always practical to log that many miles on back-to-back days.

But do the best you can to lace up and get outside.

Training on a treadmill isn't the same as training on terrain. You want to get your body, including your feet, used to walking on a variety of surfaces. Most of the 3-Day route is on pavement, but we might walk through forest preserves on gravel paths or on compacted dirt along the side of a road. Try to walk on a variety of surfaces.

Get your gear in order sooner rather than later and wear it when you train. Break in your T-shirts and shorts as well as your shoes. Planning on carrying a fanny pack? Carry it on your training walks. Load it with whatever you're planning on carrying on the event route. You want to replicate, as closely as possible, the conditions of the actual event. Distribute weight evenly on your body. If you carry a bottle of water, switch hands from time to time.

Oh, and one last bit of advice (though, as ever, if you have questions, pop 'em in the Comments and I'll address 'em for you there): SOCKS.


Many walkers wear these socks.

I am not a saleswoman for Thorlo, and I know what you're thinking: "That's a lot of money to spend on a pair of socks!"

Yes, it is. And you should buy at least six pairs (plan on two pairs a day, and change at lunchtime).

But trust me: The money you spend on good socks will be some of the best money you'll ever spend in your life.

Good socks will help prevent blisters, and on the Monday following your event, when you're not cursing every step, you'll be grateful for your sock purchase, as extravagant as it may seem at the time.

White cotton socks are absolutely what you do not want to wear. White cotton socks will absorb your sweat. You do not want to walk in sweaty socks. Moisture leads to blisters.

If you've been in the military or know anyone who's been in the military or have seen "Forrest Gump," you know that it's imperative to keep your feet dry.


For now, I think I've said enough. Maybe more than enough. But if you have any questions, let me know.


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