Basic training for walking

Basic training for walking

This article covers the components of fitness, as well as the fundamental building blocks of good training practice such as warming up, cooling down, stretching and keeping a record of what you do.

Basic training

Some people maintain that the best training for walking, scrambling or mountaineering is exactly that, participating in these activities, and they are right to a certain extent. 

However, a small amount of regular fitness training can have many positive benefits to your life:

Write down your goal - 'Ink it, don't think it!'
  • Better physical condition enables you to tackle more activities
  • You experience less stress and are more relaxed
  • Training can be sociable as well as healthy
  • Strengthens your bones (resistance training helps combat osteoporosis)
  • Reduces fat and cholesterol resulting in a healthier heart
  • Better sleep
  • Higher self-esteem and confidence
  • Helps promote your energy levels
  • Lessens the symptoms of PMS
  • Improved concentration
  • Enjoy life more
To get started

Firstly, you need to set yourself some goals. Goals form the basis of all good plans, no matter how simple. Write down your goal - 'Ink it, don't think it!'
 
Scafell © Maygutyak
Training for walkingThe basic training plan

The first component of this is to set aside some quality time throughout your week to start getting sweaty. Lunch-times, evenings, early morning whenever you can steal half an hour or more.

Once this is done you can start building the foundation for your fitness - aerobic fitness or cardio vascular endurance.

To begin with you will need at least three blocks of 30 minutes each week where you will be working aerobically. When this is in place then you can start to look at other aspects of training.

Whatever training you do there are two fundamental activities to include:

Warm up - it is vitally important to get your body and mind up to a working speed in readiness for training. Generally, a good warm up should take about 15 minutes and should include mobility work and activities to gently raise your heart rate. Your body takes time to react to exercise and so do allow sufficient time for warming-up in addition to your exercise time.

Cool down - (sometimes referred to as warm down) - after training, or a day in the hills, you need to cool down gently to avoid stiff muscles and joints after your hard work. Gently reduce your intensity of activity to gradually lower your heart rate, and stretch the major muscles you've been using. This should not be rushed and adherence to the task will aid injury prevention. If you simply stop activity - by jumping into your car and driving home, or by sitting around in the pub at the foot of the hills - the lactic acid which was building up within your muscles as you exercised will not disperse and it will leave you feeling stiff and sore.
If you simply stop activity the lactic acid will not disperse and you will be stiff and sore later

With the above in place, you are now ready to decide what aspects of fitness you need to train.

The main aspects to train are:

Strength - There are three types of strength:

Maximal: lifting the biggest weight you can (not necessary for walking or mountaineering).
Strength endurance: the ability to repeat actions over a period of time (very useful for walking and mountain activities). Explosive strength or power: where movements are combined with speed such as sprinting, throwing or jumping (especially worth training for winter).

Speed - not how fast you can cover terrain but how fast you can move parts of your body or your whole body and react to situations. This is not a large factor that needs to be trained, but it does help to have some type of speed work in a programme even if just to stop you getting bored while running, cycling, swimming or walking.
 
Stretching © Dmytro Panchenko
Stretching Suppleness/flexibility - this is concerned with keeping you supple and mobile. It aids full use of your limbs, injury prevention, and helps to keep your muscles in good working order. It should be a major component of any fitness programme and has many aspects to it. See the stretching section for more information.

Stamina - technically this is usually called aerobic endurance, and is a key area of fitness for mountaineering of any sort. Aerobic endurance works on the efficiency of your heart and lungs, providing you with the ability to keep going.

These are the major aspects of fitness that you will need to consider when undertaking any training programme. It might look like a lot at first but it is easy to identify what you need to work on by reviewing how you last felt out on the hill and matching it up to the criteria above.

Aerobic training

To get started on your aerobic training, you only have to look around and pick out activities and equipment in everyday life:

The simplest activity is walking. Can you walk to work or even at work (such as using the stairs instead of escalators and lifts)? Can you get out for a walk at lunchtime and is there someone who will walk with you (company is always a good motivator)?

Swimming is a great way to ease your body into regular exercise as it supports most of your weight and so helps to avoid many injuries. Is there a swimming pool near you (preferably with lanes)?

Cycling. You don't need the latest full-suspension mountain bike or Tour de France carbon-fibre wonder bike. All you need is a bike that fits you and is in good running order. If you have that and access to roads or tracks then get on your bike and ride! Cycling is a great way to get fit, and again, since it bears much of your weight, the likelihood of injury is low.

Do you have access to a gym or fitness facility? Starting in a gym can be daunting to begin with, but if you look at the planning sections you can go in with confidence and get advice from the gym attendants on where to start. The first step is always the hardest, but if you have done some preparation at home you will be off to a flying start. Once there it should be enjoyable -despite the hard work - and you should see benefits within the first month of working.
If things do not seem to be improving or you are getting bored, do not be afraid to change what you are doing - just do not give up!

Record keeping

Do keep a record of how much activity you are doing and how you are progressing. This should tie in with your goal setting and will help you keep motivated. If things do not seem to be improving or you are getting bored, do not be afraid to change what you are doing - just do not give up! Think of your time in the hills and mountains - that is what it is all for!

Doctor's advice

If you are unsure of any medical aspects, it is important to consult with your local GP who can also give you a medical check over to ensure that you are fit enough to start training. Many sports departments in Universities run commercial fitness-testing programmes, which can provide you with a good foundation to your training plan.

Get out and start - it is worth it!

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