New Zealand Centurions



Below you will find suggestions on how to train for events up to 100 miles. There are no detailed training schedules because our experience shows a good training schedule for one person may not be a good schedule for someone else. Nevertheless, there is much wisdom behind the suggestions below and following some or possibly all of them will go a long way to helping you achieve your goals.

The rest of this page is divided into the following sections


Principles of training

Experiment of one

Probably the most important principle of training is that you are an experiment of one. You have to find out what training works for you - the training routine of another may be totally unsuitable for you and lead to injury or you giving up ultrawalking.

Long-term goals

Another important principle is to think long-term. It is well recognised in long distance running such as marathoning that it takes a novice, even with optimal training, at least five and possibly ten years to reach their peak, no matter their age. The same principle applies to centurion walking. We are not saying you will walk just as fast or as far when you are 60 as when you were 30, but you can expect to improve for five to ten years provided you train suitably.

This principle has several possible implications, particularly if you have done little walking or physical activity before you start training. One implication is that you should take several years to build up to a 100 mile event. For example, in your first year you might aim to complete a 30 km event, followed by events of 50 km, 100 km and 100 miles in your second, third and fourth years. Another implication is that you have time to let your body slowly adapt to the increase demands you are placing on. In your first year of training, you do not have to build up to 100 kilometres of walking each week and you can have a rest day, possibly several, each week.


A third principle, one that applies to almost all human endeavour is the KISS principle - "Keep it simple stupid!" Applied to centurion walking, this principle says that if your training is complicated, you are unlikely to train in an optimal way. Complications can come in many forms. You may live 3 kilometres from a very interesting place to training such as a park in a picturesque setting. To take full advantage of this setting you could drive from home to the park and start your walk at the park. However, this may require you to drive in heavy traffic and mean your car is unavailable to other members of your household. In this case, it would be far simpler to walk from home, using the 3 kilometres to the park to warm up and the 3 kilometres back to cool down.


Types of training

Most training for centurion events is physical, mental and emotional, technical or life-style. There is little need for tactical training because most events for centurion walking are conducted in friendly atmosphere with competitors helping one another throughout an event.


There are many types of physical training.

Long walks

The idea here is pretty simple - go for a long walk. For someone starting out, a long walk may be one hour, for an elite centurion, it may be 70 kilometres. The long walk is such an important part of your training that we have a separate page on it, see "Long walk" in the menu on the main page.

Marathon pace

As the name implies, this is the pace you would walk a marathon. When you have a session of marathon pace in your training, you do no more than about 25 kilometres at this pace.

Hill training

This involves doing repetitions up a hill. You can vary the degree of steepness together with the length and number of repetitions.

Lactate threshold training

If you are interested in just completing a distance, you will not need any threshold training. If you have done a distance once and would like to go faster on your next attempt, lactate threshold (LT) training could be of benefit. It should be used sparingly and only after you have built a good base of fitness. The shorter the distance, the more beneficial threshold training is likely to be.

LT training involves walking at a speed at or just below your lactate threshold - the speed at which lactic acid is produced in your muscles at the same rate your body can break it down. At this speed you will find it difficult to say more than three or four words without gasping for breath. The speed can also be characterised as that which you can maintain for about one hour.

LT training has two versions: tempo and cruise intervals. In the tempo version, you walk at a constant LT pace for 15 to 20 minutes. In the cruise interval version, you do segments of walking at LT pace with one to three minutes of easy walking between segments. You have some choice in how many segments you do and how long each one is but it is important you do not do too many or make them too long. A useful starting point might be three segments each about six minutes long.


This is possibly the most under-utilised part of a walker's training. We have a separate page on speedwork, see "Speedwork" in the menu on the main page.

Economy and technique

The aim of this type of training is to eliminate any inefficiencies in your technique and to ensure your technique is legal. Some people think this aim can be achieved using speedwork, others think you need to be walking a little slower so you can concentrate on your technique.

Active rest (easy)

A walk of a short distance at an easy pace.

Passive rest

Do nothing.

Dynamic flexibility drills

These drills increase you flexibility and improve you coordination.


Stretching increases your flexibility. The simplest type of stretching is (static) passive. With these stretches you hold the muscle in slightly stretched state for 20 to 30 seconds.

There are many articles on the internet about stretching and we have given links to a few below. When reading articles on the internet about stretching, it is important to remember a) some articles were written by people who have a product or service to sell and b) there is disagreement about how effective stretching is and how it should be done.


By strengthwork, we mean weight bearing exercises designed to strengthen specific muscle groups so they are capable of doing many repetitions without tiring. The main reasons for doing strengthwork are

An apparently obvious way to do strengthwork is to lift weights. We say "apparently" because it is all too easy to do the wrong type of training for ultrawalking. When lifting weights as part of their training, people naturally want to lift heavier and heavier weights as the weeks roll by. Unfortunately, this type of improvement is rarely of benefit for ultrawalking except possibly when muscles are very weak such as after a break from training. What is required for ultrawalking is many repetitions with light weights. Improvement should be measured by the number of extra repetitions done with a fixed weight and not by the extra weight lifted for a fixed number of repetitions.

Strengthwork can be done in other ways than by lifting weights. For example, you can


Cross-training is any physical training that does not involve walking on a solid surface, excluding stretching and strengthwork. Some view stretching and strengthwork as cross-training, we believe they are sufficiently important that they deserve their own section.

One hour of cross-training is unlikely to benefit your walking as much as one hour of the types of training already described. But cross-training is very useful. It adds variety to your training, it gives you a chance to continue training when you are injured, and when walking is impossible.

In most types of cross-training you'll be using different muscles from that used in walking. These muscles could well be weak and it is important to ease into cross-training to avoid injury.

Ways to cross-train include

Mental and emotional training

Over the last two decades, much has been written about mental and emotional training and there is now a plethora of techniques and books on the subject. Here we will be content with a brief summary.

It is important to distinguish between mental and emotional training. Mental training is intended to give you better control over your thoughts and emotional training better control over your emotions. The main aim of mental training is to improve your concentration. Mental training also aims to improve organisational and problem-solving skills. The main aim of emotional training is to improve your confidence.

As we said above, there is a plethora of techniques. The main techniques include


By technical training, we mean training that improves your

Ways to do technical training include


Your life-style can have a significant effect on how well you do in an ultrawalk. Aspects to consider are


Other articles on the internet

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Last modified: October 28, 2007.