Friday, January 29, 2010

The 2010 3-Day: Training ...

Hello, walkers!

The weekend is almost here! So, let's talk about training. Over the course of the year, the weekends are when you'll likely do most of your training.

For those of you who are thinking, "I don't need to train. I walk every day. I walk from the train station to my office. I walk around the grocery store. I walk all over the house for 12 hours, picking up after my kids," allow me to tell you a story:

Many 3-Days ago, 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. Do not get a pedicure right before the event!

Why, you ask? Sandal season might arrive one of these days, but do yourself a favor: skip pedicures between now (OK, maybe not now, since it's only January ...) 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.

Personally, I don't follow the 3-Day training schedule. 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.

But that's me.

If you don't walk sizable distances regularly, you absolutely must train. You must acclimate your feet to massive amounts of mileage. You must also break in two pairs of shoes. (Yes, you need two pairs. If it rains, you'll need a dry pair of shoes in reserve.)

So, to sum up:


A few words about the 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 I know what you're thinking: 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. (Though walking on a treadmill is better than not walking at all.) 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. (Wear a 3-Day T-shirt as a billboard of sorts. People will strike up conversations with you about the event. Let them know how to contribute to your fundraising, which will be the topic of my next post.) 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 two last bits of advice (though, as ever, if you have questions, pop 'em in the Comments and I'll address 'em for you there): SOCKS and BODY GLIDE (or something like it).



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.



(You can find it at most sporting-goods stores as well as online.)

Friction is a walker's foe. Friction causes blisters. Eliminate friction, you'll eliminate blisters.

Body Glide looks like a stick of deodorant. You rub it all over your feet before you put on your socks and shoes. The slick barrier between your feet and your socks will inhibit the formation of blisters. (Rub some between your toes, too.) Tote it with you in your fanny pack or backpack and reapply it at lunchtime when you change your socks. Or at pit stops. Or whenever you feel the need.

It's like a little stick of magic. It will make all the difference in your 3-Day experience, as well as your training.

OK, I've blathered on long enough for one post. As ever, though, if you have any questions, let me know.

Update: A few words about shoes:

Megan, in the comments, asked about what shoes to try. That's a very good question. I'm a New Balance girl myself. Go to a store that specializes in athletic shoes and talk to the staff. Tell them that you're doing the 3-Day. The shoes I wear are designed for walking. Cross-trainers may work for you.

This is key: when you go to get fitted for shoes, wear the kind of socks you'll wear on the event. Generally, you'll want to get shoes that are a size larger than you normally wear, to accommodate thicker socks (like the Thorlos I mentioned above) as well as to allow for your feet swelling.

Once the staff has laced you into a pair, they should watch you walk and recommend shoes accordingly.

Good shoes are not inexpensive, but buy the best you can afford. Good shoes and good socks will make all the difference in your walking experience.

That said, I've seen people do the entire event in sport sandals or Birkenstocks. (I've also seen people walk in Crocs and flip-flops, but I never asked them if they thought that was the best idea.) Athletic shoes aren't the only option. Try different options if you have them. Walk a few miles in each. Your feet will tell you whether or not they're a good idea.

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Blogger Ellie said...

Thanks so much for the info!! It's helped to know how to get started.

3:06 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

I walked in my first 3-Day in 2002. Since then I've walked thousands of training miles.

Every word you say is good advice. But the absolute best advice is to get out there and walk distance. If you have never participated in an endurance event, try to follow the recommended training schedule. It's been put together by experts and followed successfully by 10s of thousands of people. It works to get you prepared to do an extraordinary thing -- walk 60 miles in 3 days.

Another bit of advice is to find a group of veteran 3-Day walkers to train with, whether on an official training walk or not. If you are a newbie, you will not only get tips on what equipment has worked for other people, but you will make good friends.

The best advice of all is try and enjoy your training. Remember why you have committed to this event and honor that commitment with your joy. It doesn't have to be drudgery.


3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have walked in four 3-days (all in Tampa) and haven't trained for any of them and been fine each time. I WOULD NOT SUGGEST NOT TRAINING. While I was ok without training, at the time of the walks I had never gotten pedicures, had tons of calluses from being a ballet dancer, and was used to endurance activities from all day hikes in the Rocky Mountains. Oh yeah, and I was only 21. If I tried to do that now my entire foot would be a blister (I do love a good pedicure), and my legs would be dead. I will not cut myself off from pedicures in April for the October event and plan to spend a lot of time building up the tough skin over the summer months. Thanks so much for this blog post as I never really knew how to train other than my extra-curricular activies. Happy Walking!!!!

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Robin - Walkers 4 Life said...

I love my Thorlo I wore them for the last 3 years and have never gotten a blister during the 3day. I won't walk without them.

And yes totally agree with the pedicure statement. Spread the word. My first walk back in 2004 my tentmate had a pedicure the day before the walk and at the end of day one she had bloody feet, I never forget that.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Megan (FriedOkra) said...

Great advice! I'll be walking my first time in Chicago in August. I'm thankful to be on a team with some 3-Day pros, but looking for all the good information I can find to help me prepare. Any thoughts on which kinds of shoes to try first? The choices are overwhelming!

3:42 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

@Ellie: My pleasure. Happy to help in whatever way I can.

@Julie: You're right about distance. I do know, though, that some people look at the training schedule and think, "I won't have time to do back-to-back 20-mile walks! Maybe I shouldn't do this." Following the training schedule is a very good idea, but there's a bit of breathing room, in my experience. Though more training is always better.

@Katie: Thanks for the reiteration. Train, train, train! And yes, folks don't have to forego pedicures just yet.

@Robin: Thorlos forever! I sucked in my breath when I read that your tentmate had a pedicure the day before. Ouch!

@Megan: Welcome, fellow Chicago walker! Thanks for asking about shoes. Good thought. I've added some info to the end of the post for others who might be wondering.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Laurie Brunner said...

The idea that someone would attempt the 3-Day without training is utterly mindboggling.

My secret to getting no blisters during my first walk in October 2009: Vaseline. I coated my feet in it each morning, and reapplied when necessary. My feet hurt like hell from the pounding by the end of the second day, but I did not get a single blister. It also provides lubrication for some self-massage during rest stop.

7:01 PM  
Blogger Moni said...

Thanks for all the great advice!!! I just signed up for my first walk in SF Bay Area. Currently, training for my first 5K Run. Yes, it's a year of firsts!!! Anyone else training for the Bay Area walk? I'd love to train simultaneously, if I can.

8:54 PM  
Blogger Tara Rodden Robinson said...

Great advice! I trained and trained and still lost THREE toe-nails. Yep, count 'em. Three. Learned a lot, though, and can't wait for the 2010 3-Day!

4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laurie: I have found that biofreeze foot massages at the end of each night make the foot pounding pain a bit less.

Megan: As for shoes go my best suggestion would be to go to a palce like Feet First or a running shoe store and explain that you are doing the 3 day and would like to keep your feet protected. The best places do a gait analysis that helps them put you in the best show for your body. Also it never hurts to ask if they have a discount for the awesome 3day walkers (New Balance always gives me a discount on everything!)

2:15 PM  
Blogger Kay Trimm said...

I have signed up for my first walk in Atlanta and I'm so excited!!!
I went in search for the socks you mentioned at the local sporting goods store and hit the jackpot!! They were on sale for $5/pair!!! I bought all 5 pair they had in my size! wooohooo!!!

Have shoes and socks, now it's time to start walking. Thanks for your tips!!

2:29 PM  
Anonymous kaight said...

Great tips! Another critical item that I've found is a tennis ball. It sounds a little odd, but when your arches are killing you, take your shoe off and roll your foot on the tennis ball... its like an amazing foot massage that you can do any time you want!! Oh, and mole skin is great for areas you know blister easily. All the tricks in the book and you'll still end up with a blister every now and then. If you know an area is rubbing, put moleskin on it before it blisters!

1:40 PM  

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