Do I need any special preparations for a particularly long walk?
September 12, 2019 7:09 PM   Subscribe

I've signed up for an urban walk in my city. The plan involves walking eight miles in about four hours. That is somewhat more than I am used to, so I'm wondering if I should approach this with a bit of preparation.

I wouldn't think twice about walking two or three miles at a stretch, and if I'm visiting a new city, I'll often walk eight miles over the course of a day. But this is eight continuous miles (although at a relatively slow pace, it seems). Is there reason to be more concerned about the potential for injury under these circumstances? Should I be putting more thought into my footwear? I tend to be nonchalant about the ergonomics of my shoes, and I'm wondering if that's particularly unwise in this case.
posted by a certain Sysoi Pafnut'evich to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Yeah, you will want to wear comfortable shoes. I’d vote for proper sneakers, like the kind made for running in. Don’t wear anything that pinches or rubs your foot even a little tiny bit — it will build up over 8 miles until your foot blisters and/or is rubbed raw and bleeding.

(I once tried walking 1.5 miles home in what were billed as comfort flats. The heels were a little loose — nothing I would ever worry about, wearing them casually. They had rubbed the backs of my ankles raw and bleeding by the time I got home. Never again.)
posted by snowmentality at 7:33 PM on September 12, 2019

The main thing I would be looking for is comfy shoes that have some sort of cushioning (sneakers usually but some sorts of other shoes, Rockports, etc) and some cushiony socks, especially the more sporty kinds of socks. I walk a lot and sometimes do fast walking workouts at the gym and having some really nice socks that are made to deal with impact can make a difference over time. Otherwise just make sure you stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, etc.
posted by jessamyn at 7:45 PM on September 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

If it were me I would use a foam roller on my IT band, calves, quads and glutes for a few days ahead of time to reduce the risk of triggering a tendinitis recurrence. And do some calf stretches. Plus all of the above advice about shoes.
posted by matildaben at 8:17 PM on September 12, 2019

You'll be fine.

Wear comfortable walking shoes, such as sneakers, trail runners, even hiking boots. Not dress shoes, and definitely nothing with more heel than a sneaker (typically 0.25 to 0.5").

If you're worried about blisters, you can wear two pairs of thin socks, as you would for hiking. But only if both pairs fit into your shoes without constricting your feet.

Carry "paper tape" such as Micropore and apply if you start to feel a burning sensation. That's called a hot spot and a blister will follow if it is not treated.

Know the route, or carry a map of the area so that you can bail if something goes wrong. Google maps will let you download bits for offline reference.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 8:23 PM on September 12, 2019

As well as thinking about footwear, think about wearing a hat and taking water.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 10:00 PM on September 12, 2019 [4 favorites]

If possible, do at least one 4 mile walk before then in the shoes you plan to wear. That should be enough to show you whether you will be OK. If you do have issues then my favourite solutions are vaseline between my toes to stop rubbing, preemptive plasters (fabric, extra sticky elastoplast only) on the toes that get sore and my special double-layered hiking socks.

But for 8 miles on roads I would probably be happy doing that in comfortable everyday shoes.
posted by kadia_a at 10:42 PM on September 12, 2019

One thought - in many places roads and crowned and sidewalks slopes for drainage.

It’s a really good idea to change sides regularly.

Secondarily: it’s in town so having a backup option in case of emergency is prudent. At the very least knowing if you have a public transit option is important should you, say, step in a pothole and twist an ankle or something.

Enjoy the walk.
posted by mce at 12:08 AM on September 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

I walked back and forth to our local fireworks display this July in my regular street shoes. I spent most of the walk home barefoot.
In hindsight, I would have worn thick wool hiking socks and running sneakers, or atleast had flip flops in my backpack with the bottles of water and a towel to sit on.
posted by TrishaU at 1:39 AM on September 13, 2019

If you're blister-prone, wear yesterday's socks, not new ones. Otherwise seconding a water bottle and if it's supposed to be sunny, a hat.
posted by Namlit at 3:03 AM on September 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you don't own sneakers and can afford good ones get yourself properly fitted at a store that prides itself on fitting people for marathons. A mall chain store 's staff usually doesn't know how to do that. I went to this store in Boston several years ago with great results. I don't know your location.

Bring an extra pair of socks. Make sure your socks won't slip down into your shoes.
posted by mareli at 5:34 AM on September 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

Like any long walk, try not to wear new shoes for the first time on a multi-hour walk. A wide range of shoes can work, as long as they fit well and offer good support. You'll want more room for your toes than you might think you need. Feet swell a fair bit over a day.

If your feet start to feel hot spots, stop and put something on them before those turn into blisters. Blisters are No Fun on feet.

A change of socks for the midway point can be very nice.
posted by bonehead at 5:51 AM on September 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

Pack hydrocolloid gel plasters (Compeed or analogues) in various sizes and apply them as soon as you feel discomfort on any part of your foot, then don't remove until they fall off on their own. They'll stop blisters from forming and hasten the healing of any already-formed ones.

And enjoy! This should be a leisurely pace stroll, plenty of time to look around and talk to people.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 8:12 AM on September 13, 2019

I’d suggest not wearing hiking boots for an urban walk because the combination of a stiff sole and paved surfaces can be hard work. A comfortable sneaker with a bit of cushioning is a better bet.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 1:32 PM on September 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

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