Walking a half marathon
November 22, 2011 8:18 AM   Subscribe

I want to walk a half marathon. My city's marathon is next fall, so I have plenty of time to get ready. I found various training plans online that range from 12-16 weeks, but that's really not what my question is about. I'm wondering, since I have almost a year till then, what should I do be doing now? Does it matter? I'm in good health but haven't exercised consistently lately. Also, general walking-a-half advice is very welcome!
posted by trillian to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Why not start now a training plan now? You may find that by next fall you can do a lot more than just walk the half.
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:21 AM on November 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yeah, if you've got a year, there's no reason you can't run it.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:23 AM on November 22, 2011

I had never ran seriously until my SO cajoled me into running a half-marathon. The training plan made it shockingly easy.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:27 AM on November 22, 2011

...that said, if you only want to walk it, then by all means, just walk it.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:28 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, start the 12-16 week program now, and then when you're done with that, see how you feel, and maybe start up the 12-16 week training programs for running instead of walking.

I just ran in the NYC Marathon, and I started my 16 week program with 20 weeks to go, and I wish now that I'd done it even earlier. A knee injury in the middle of the summer cut out 6 weeks of training for me, so I was still behind for the marathon, and had to change my goal from "under 4hrs" to just finishing.
posted by Grither at 8:28 AM on November 22, 2011

Er... it was actually a 26wk program that I started 30wks in advance for the full marathon.
posted by Grither at 8:30 AM on November 22, 2011

I walked a half marathon in October. Before that, I was in reasonable shape, did yoga several times a week, went to the gym and worked out on the eliptical and treadmill. I am not young. Three or four months before, I started walking for an hour or more several times a week at pace (about 4 miles an hour). A couple of weeks before, I went on longer walks, 8 to 10 miles, just to see how that felt. On the day, eight miles was no thing, I could have stopped at 10 miles, the last three miles were annoying, but not bad.

I didn't train hard, but it wasn't too hard to do. You've got a lot of time, you could probably train to run; but barring illness or injury, walking it should be boring, but doable.
posted by mimo at 8:35 AM on November 22, 2011

What you do now depends on your goal. Back when I was in the Boy Scouts I did hikes as long as 24 miles with very little training: a 5-mile hike, then 2 weeks later a 10-mile hike, then 2 weeks later a 15-mile hike, and then 2 weeks after that, the 24-mile hike. In between, I was a pretty sedentary teenager. If your goal is simply to do that half-marathon (13.1 miles) next fall, there's no reason to start before next summer.

Depending on your age, your joints might not be as resilient as mine were when I was young (mine aren't either!). Your first priority should be getting a good pair of walking shoes, and given how often shoe manufacturers change models, perhaps buying a couple extra pairs once you find shoes that you like! They don't have to necessarily be very cushioned, but they should fit comfortably without being so loose that they cause chafing on your heel or ankle.

If your goal is to get more active in general, with the half-marathon as a target/reward, then you can start now by following a training plan.

Walking is low-impact compared with running; something to keep in mind if you do decide to run is that running injuries are much more common than walking injuries. The ex-Olympian Jeff Galloway now recommends a mix of running and walking for most recreational runners, as a way to get the physical benefits of running while being kinder to your joints.

Otherwise, as with any endurance exercise, keep hydrated, and if you're going to be out more than a couple hours, bring a healthy snack to keep your blood glucose levels up (a piece of fruit is good). Watch out for chafing; clothes that are fine for a 3-mile walk might be quite painful after ten.

And finally, if you can check out the course, do so. If it has a nasty hill or two, be sure to walk it, or a similar hill, during your training walks. Walking (or running) downhill can actually be harder on your muscles and joints than going uphill.

Have fun, and good luck!
posted by brianogilvie at 8:37 AM on November 22, 2011

The one thing I'd caution you is to take it easy for the week or two before the half -- I walked a full several years ago, and in the weeks leading up to the marathon, I overdid it and wound up injuring my foot, which made the actual walk a lot more painful than it had to be!
posted by cider at 8:54 AM on November 22, 2011

Thank you for all the answers so far! I just wanted to add that I don't want to run it, just walk it, even though I certainly have enough time to train to run it. (Knee always bugs me when I start a running plan like C25K, etc.)
posted by trillian at 9:02 AM on November 22, 2011

You could probably go out tomorrow and walk 13.1 miles.

You should find out if there's a course time limit. That will greatly impact your training.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:07 AM on November 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you're in good health as you say, then I think the most important thing you can do now is just start walking regularly, or start the training plan now, as RustyBrooks said. My most important tip is good shoes (which is obvious I think) and good socks. Those pricey technical walking socks are totally worth it. Make sure to train in the shoes and socks you are going to walk the marathon in. Sometimes people buy special new shoes right before such an event, that's not a great idea.
posted by davar at 12:30 PM on November 22, 2011

It can't hurt to start walking a little or start other exercise in the meantime, so when you do start following a training schedule, your body won't be shocked by the new routine.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 12:57 PM on November 22, 2011

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