Tips for training
Participating in the International Four Days Marches Nijmegen requires good preparation. It is wise to train with the help of a systematic scheme, to let your body get used to the strain. That is how you can prevent injuries and disappointments and your walk will be more pleasant.
‘Listen’ to your body
Train weekly and gradually increase the walking distance. Listen to your body and slow your pace if necessary. If you have any doubts at all about your health and/or physical condition, consult a doctor!
When you set out on a walking event, start slowly so that your muscles can warm up gradually. Increase your pace once your muscles have warmed up.
Eat and drink sufficiently
If you are going to walk more intensively, you must make sure to eat enough. People, especially women, often eat too little. It is important to have enough "energy" to be able to enjoy the walk. Eating a high energy snack during the walk will boost your energy levels for a while. Next to that, it is also important to drink sufficiently. The amount depends on the weather (temperature and moisture), but you cannot walk a couple of hours on just two cups of coffee. Take water with you and drink regularly. In extreme heat, one liter per hour is quite normal. For more information about nourishment and drinking, click here.
Walk at different speeds and try to find an inner rhythm
If you go for regular walks and you want to improve your fitness, try to regularly walk at a faster speed before resuming your "normal" pace. If you do this more often, you’ll see your "normal" pace go up. If you feel tired, don’t stop but simply slow your speed. Music can be a good aid in establishing a good pace.
It can be very pleasant to walk with a friend (provided he or she enjoys the same walking pace). This will help you to walk in a more relaxed way. Walking in a group is highly convivial, but everyone has his or her own pace. If the group is walking too fast for you, don’t feel pressurised to adopt this pace. After all, if you are walking too fast, you will start to suffer after a few kilometres.
Select a different route each time. For instance, try walking in another province. You can also alternate between surfaced and unsurfaced roads, or between flat and undulating terrain. The big advantage of a winding road is that you won’t have to stare down a long straight track that seems to go on forever, which is very discouraging.
Take your time for the walk. Wearing a watch can make you feel pressured to complete the walk within a certain time span. This can have a negative influence on your walking pace. In any case, consciously take your time to walk and take your time to rest. When you're resting, don't sit down on the ground, because then your muscles will cool down too fast and become stiff. If you have the feeling that your legs are getting tired, then take your time to stretch your muscles. This is how they will get some rest. After stretching the muscles, your legs will feel more pleasant.
Train weekly and lengthen your distance slowly. Jot down in your diary when and where you intend to walk, who with, at what speed and over what distance. In this manner, you can look back at the distances you have walked and see your improvement. Also, it will help you judge whether the amount of training kilometres you have walked already will suffice. Below is an example of a training scheme. The scheme shows an advise distance for every two weeks, however do train every week. For the weeks not in the scheme, do choose to walk a distance which is less than the distance of your last walk. Do train in different weather situations! You can download the PDF-file of the scheme in the menu Service.
Make sure you get enough mileage into your training. Try the Dutch National Walking Programme (LWP) if you want to vary your training and increase your distances by participating in organised walks. The LWP contains over 700 organised walks, arranged according to their dates, and is available via www.wandel.nl. Other national walking associations also have organised walks and routes on their websites. You may also inquire with the local walking association in your neighbourhood.
Walk with a backpack and little ball or stick
Wear a backpack or a hipbag, this improves your posture when walking. You may prevent the swelling of your fingers during the walk by walking with a little ball or stick in your hands.