All seven of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® cities are now 24 weeks or less from their events, which means that walkers everywhere have jumped into their training schedules. Depending on where you live, there may be official Komen 3-Day training walks that you can attend (go to The3Day.org/trainingwalks to find one), but even so, chances are good that at some point, you’ll have to initiate some training walks on your own. Here are a few tips for planning a pleasant and successful training walk.
Map Your Route – The 3-Day® suggested training schedule recommends certain mileages, depending on how many weeks you have until your event. Taking a 3-mile stroll around your neighborhood is usually done pretty easily, but when you start to get up into the higher mileages, you’ll want to plan your route ahead of time. There are several websites that allow you to plot out a walking route using online maps – a few that I’ve used are MapMyWalk.com, RunKeeper.com and USA Track & Field. These sites are great because they will track the distance of the route you plan, so you never have to second guess whether or not you got all your miles in, and you can even browse routes that other users have already created. Most of these websites sync up with GPS-enabled mobile apps as well, so you can plan out a route in the comfort of your home, and it will be right there on your phone when you’re ready to hit the road.
Recruit Some Buddies – If you’ve registered to walk in the 3-Day with friends or family members, great! You have training partners at the ready. But often we hear from walkers who don’t have anyone to train with, and that requires a little bit of creative thinking to solve. For instance, say you have a 12-mile training walk to complete. It might be a tough sell to get one of your non-3-Day friends to go hoof that whole distance with you. But could you get 2 friends to each walk 6 miles with you? Set up your route so that the halfway point is back where you started, and let your friends “tag-team” in and out. Friend 1 will be back at her car and free to head home while Friend 2 is just meeting you, ready to attack the second half of the walk.
Motivate with Music – Have you ever been walking and heard a song with a tempo that matched your stride perfectly? I found a really cool website called Jog.fm which organizes thousands of songs by beats-per-minute, so you can find tunes that fit your pace. You could make a whole playlist of songs that will keep you moving at the speed you’re comfortable with. (Note: For safety reasons, the 3-Day recommends that you do not walk with headphones/earbuds, because they limit your awareness of your surroundings. However, since most mobile devices have built-in speakers these days, you can safely rock your walk with tunes to keep you moving.)
Pack for the Trek – We recommend that 3-Dayers wear a pack of some kind when walking; waist packs that hold one or two water bottles and hydration backpacks are the most popular styles. Training walks are an excellent time to get used to how your pack feels, so you’re not wearing it for the first time on the 3-Day. For your training walks, you’ll want to carry with you whatever you might need: bottles of water and/or sports drink, snacks, sunscreen and lip balm, foot care items, extra socks, your phone, ID and some money. I like to plan stopping points into my longer training walks (Starbucks, anyone?), but in the event that I’m walking someplace without a lot of on-route stopping options, it’s good to know that I have one I need right there on my fanny.
Know Your Limits – Ideally, your 3-Day training will work up gradually, and your body will respond positively to the increase in miles with no issues. But we all know that things happen. On the 3-Day, you’ll have sweep vans available to pick you up if you need to quit, but when you go out for longer training walks and you find you’re just not ready for the distance you’ve planned, have an exit strategy. Make sure friends or family members know where you are and will be willing to pick you up if necessary, or be prepared with the number of a cab company (or Uber/Lyft services, if you have those in your area), just in case.