Walking for exercise is a beautiful thing. No need for expensive equipment or gym memberships -- all you need to do is go out and move your feet. If you're hoping to take part in a 10K walking event though, don't underestimate the need for proper training. Walking approximately 6.7 miles is no joke, and you'll need to be organized and methodical about your walking program in order to have the most success during the event. Fitness professionals recommend a variety of training programs to get you ready, but the majority of them involve adding more distance to your program over time. Plan ahead and within about eight weeks you should be in good physical condition to rock out that 10K race.
Set aside about one hour for walking four days a week. Try to walk about every other day. Mark your walking time on your calendar so you won't schedule any other activities during your walking time.
Warm up before every walking session by walking slowly for five to 10 minutes. Following that, perform some basic dynamic stretches such as leg kicks and arm circles.
For the first three walking days of the week, walk at a moderate pace for about 30 minutes. This regular walking throughout the week will help you get in shape. Don't focus on distance during these walks -- just enjoy the time.
On the fourth walking day of the week, walk 5 kilometers. Use a track or marked trail to track your distance. Doing this distance walk once a week helps you begin to build endurance.
Practice good walking form. Keep your head up and eyes looking forward and keep your shoulders back, down and relaxed. Use your arms to maintain a strong stride, pumping an arm forward as the opposite foot steps forward.
Cool down after every session by walking slowly for five to 10 minutes.
Add five minutes to your timed walks and add a half-kilometer of distance to your endurance walk every week for eight to ten weeks. For example, for your timed walks, you start with 30 minutes the first week, so the second week, you'll move up to 35 minutes. For your endurance walk, you start with 5 kilometers, so you'll move up to 5.5 kilometers the second week. Continue adding time and distance to your walks so that by the tenth week, you'll be walking 9.5 kilometers during the endurance walk -- very close to the distance you'll be walking during your 10K race.
- If you haven't exercised in a while, get your doctor's okay before you start this training program. If you're using your walking program to prepare for a 10K race, allow yourself at least one day of rest -- if not two days' rest -- before the event. In fact, take it easy the entire week of your event, walking only for 30 to 40 minutes two or three days in that week. Get plenty of sleep during the days before the event, and consume plenty of protein, vegetables, fruits, complex carbohydrates and water.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.