Whether it’s the martial arts, cooking, or walking and hiking, preparation is a crucial part of the process. Get it wrong, and later down the track you’ll probably encounter obstacles. Better to put a little extra effort in at the beginning.
Preparation is everything
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” – Sir Ranulph Fiennes
When it comes to the way of the walker, there are two key areas of preparation:
Weather ready: Make sure your walking clothes are appropriate for the weather. If it rains a lot where you are, invest in a proper waterproof jacket and trousers, and footwear. If it’s hot, ensure you are wearing breathable attire and that your skin and eyes are protected from the sun.
Custom orthotics: Custom-made orthotics, or in the insoles you slip inside your shoes, offer a number of benefits. Every foot, every footstep and every gait are different. Custom-made insoles are specially designed to match your feet and the way you walk. They offer more support to the arch and heel, alleviate foot pain, improve balance and allow you to walk for longer without discomfort.
Hydration: It’s important to stay well hydrated when you go on long walks. As a general rule, you should be be drinking between 500 ml to one litre every hour. However, if it’s hot and humid you might like to increase that. If it’s cold outside, consider heating your water and carrying a vacuum flask. Try using a hydration pack on your walks; they make it easier to stay hydrated.
Use walking poles: There are numerous benefits to walking with poles. Swinging your arms and using poles helps you get into a brisk walking rhythm, improving pace. They help you power up hills, and protect your knees and hips while going downhill. The extra arm movement also burns more calories.
Watch this video explaining Nordic walking:
Snacks: If you are going for longer walks, for more than an hour, it’s good to take some snacks to stay fueled and to avoid your blood sugar levels slumping. Trail mix, energy bars, bliss balls, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, are all good fuel. The key thing is choose snacks that contain quick absorbing sugars. Have a snack every 45 minutes you are walking.
Walking isn’t a daring-do activity like rock climbing or diving, but if you’re walking near vehicle and bicycle traffic, in low light, or hot or cold temperatures there are simple things we can do to minimise risk of injury and stay safe.
During winter months especially, as the days are darker and colder, it’s important to ensure you stay safe out there. This will help you relax, and enjoy your walk more.
Reflectors: Buy yourself an assortment of reflectors for your clothing so you are clearly visible to cyclists and drivers from a distance. Use “biological motion” for increased visibility; this means lighting up your joints – ankles, knees, wrists and elbows, not the torso – so motorists and cyclists recognise you as a moving person.
Footwear: Head to a hiking store that has a reputation for well trained staff and get yourself properly fitted for walking shoes. Blisters really are buzz killer, and can usually be avoided when we get the perfect size footwear. Shoes with good grip also reduce the likelihood of slipping, which is especially important in colder climes over winter.