New Zealand Centurions

Long walk


Possibly the most important part of an endurance walker's physical training is the long walk. This walk is intended to develop the walker's ability to stay on his or her feet for hours on end. Just how long the walk is will depend on the current ability of the walker and the event they are training for. For a novice who has just started preparing for a half-marathon, ten kilometres might be a long walk; for an elite walker preparing for a 100 mile event, a long walk might be 70 kilometres.

It is important a walker do the long walks in the right way. If not, the walker may be wasting much leisure time or, worse still, they may kill off their desire to do future long walks.

General advice

The four most important pieces of advice for a long walk are

Making the long walk interesting

It is important you find long walks interesting. Otherwise you may not complete them and you may not even attempt the next one in your training schedule. There are a number of ways a long walk can be made interesting.

Do the walk with other people

There are several possibilities here:

The route

The route you use for your long walk can greatly influence how much you enjoy the walk. If you find it boring going laps around a looped course, you could try a route that is one big loop or is a single out-and-back or someone could drop you off and you have to walk home. These alternatives may mean you are walking on slightly more difficult terrain, for example the loop course may be a flat one and the out-and-back route may have a few hills, but this disadvantage may be more than offset by the increase in your enthusiasm for the walk.

Another way to maintain interest is to try a different route for each long walk. This is especially effective if you have never been over the route before because there will be an element of exploration in your walk.

Reducing the number of long walks

Some people do not have the time or inclination to do lots of long walks in preparation for an event. There are several ways to reduce the number of long walks, although it is important to realise you may be less fit on race day.

One way is to replace the walk with shorter walks on two or even three consecutive days. For example, if your long walk is fifty kilometres, you could do a thirty kilometre walk on two consecutive days. These two walks will probably not prepare you as well as the fifty kilometre walk would have, but you will gain a lot more than if you skipped the fifty kilometre walk or did just one thirty kilometre walk.

If you try to do a long walk every week or almost every week you may be over training and would probably benefit from doing a long walk every two weeks or even every three weeks.

Races can sometimes be used as a long walk. For example, suppose you are preparing for a fifty mile walk in early September. You could compete in a fifty kilometre race in June and use this as a long walk in your build up to the fifty mile walk.

For events up to eighty kilometres or fifty miles, some coaches recommend you walk the distance or close to it at least once in training. Other coaches recommend you not walk so far and leave it for race day. This latter approach probably has more support among ultrawalkers than does the former approach.

Other sports or recreations

Participating in other sports or recreations can be an effective way to get you long walk in. These sports or recreations include

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Last modified: October 28, 2007.