Getting ready for a 40 km trek needs a lot of planning and preparation.
Mick’s Training and Preparation Tips
First of all, start out slow and easy!
Walk out the door, walk 15 minutes, and walk back. That’s it? Yes, that’s it.
Do this every day for a week. If this was easy for you, add five – ten minutes to your walks.
Don’t over do it too early as you may end up with overuse injuries later in our training.
If you’re new to walking, start off with slow, short sessions and build your way up gradually. Do not worry at all about speed in the beginning; we will be concentrating on time and not distance. We will work up to time versus distance later in our training.
Be aware of your posture. Walk tall and think of elongating your body. Hold your head up and eyes forward and try not to slouch.
If you have a medical condition or any health concerns be sure to check with your doctor for advice before you begin a routine.
For most people who have not exercised or trekked in a while, there may be some, tired and sore muscles, which are more prone to injury. Regular stretching is a means of minimizing the chances of injury occurring. You should always stretch atleast 10 to 15 minutes after each training session or walk.
Don’t stretch too vigorously first thing in the morning. Your muscles will still be stiff from the evenings sleep. Gentle loosening stretches are fine, however, over-stretching tight or a cold muscle is one of the most common ways in which strains and tears can occur. Don’t bounce during any of the stretches. All stretches should be done slowly and with control. Focus on breathing deeply. Breathe into the stretches.
Be aware of the pain of injury as to the pain of exertion if you feel injury pain, then you are over-stretching and putting yourself at risk of injury
Most trekkers will pack a roll of sports tape, which can prove its worth in time of quickrepairs of shoes, water-bladders and blisters. However you wont need a whole roll, instead you can wrap the tape around a trekking pole, or in a container to save on space and weight.
Don’t double Up
Most of you will be walking with a friend or part of a group; Often gear is double packed insmall groups of inexperienced trekkers. Before the trek it is a good idea to compare checklists and use common sense. Ensure you don’t double up on items and you could all save a few kilograms.
With 5 weeks to go – Time to start building up the training
By now we should be up to walking 4 days a week, 30 to 40 minutes at a fast pace. You should be breathing a little harder but not gasping for air. You warm up and cool down (stretch) in addition to the time spent at the faster pace.If you are walking for only 2 days a week this should be at least 60-80 minutes at a moderate to brisk pace. Walking faster will obviously cover more distance so ensure you walk for time and not distance.If you are time poor, another way to get the kms into your legs is by using a pedometer to track steps, this can be a great motivational tool. A reasonable goal for most people is to increase average daily steps each week by 500 per day until you can easily average 15,000 per day.
Aim to keep your back-pack to less than 5kg. Remember, if walking in a team, you will be able to share items. There will also be plenty of water along the way at the designated drinks/refreshment stations so there is no need to carry more than 1lt of water at a time.
Tighten all compression straps to limit any load-shifting. You are the ultimate judge of what feels comfortable to you. Experiment with different load arrangements to determine what feels best.
When packing your backpack for men, keep your heaviest items close to your back, centred between your shoulder blades. You should keep heavy items in the middle of your pack. This helps focus more of the weight over your hips, the area of your body best equipped to carry a heavy load.
Women however due to a different centre of gravity may want to arrange heavier items lower in the main compartment, starting again from the spot between your shoulder blades. This lowers your centre of gravity and increases your stability on uneven terrain
Blisters are one the main reasons trekkers will struggle on hikes. There are many views on treatment and prevention of blisters, and a variety of ways to help prepare and strengthen your feet.
Shoes: Make sure you have a comfortable pair of good walking shoes, which you have at least worn for a 3-hour hike. Find out what works for you by experimenting during training. Don’t wear new shoes during the event!
Socks: Wear good quality moisture-wicking socks in a synthetic/cotton or wool blend. (Avoid wearing pure cotton or pure wool.) Some Trekkers find that ‘double socking’ using a thin liner sock under a thicker walking sock works for them. A spare pare of socks to change 1Ž2 way is recommended and provide welcome relief for your feet.
Moisture control: Keeping your feet dry will reduce the likelihood of friction blisters. Some walkers use spray-on antiperspirant (on the feet!) before starting. Don’t apply petroleum-based products such as Vaseline or pawpaw ointment. They are known to actually increase skin friction on long walks. Simple measures such as changing out of wet shoes and socks are the most effective. (in case of rain)
Try taping your feet: Taping feet with a hypoallergenic adhesive bandage (not brown sports tape) may help. Practice different foot taping techniques during training. Massaging feet with anti-friction skin balm may also help, but avoid petroleum-based products (see above).
Know your feet: Get to know where your feet are prone to blisters. Cover these areas with either hypoallergenic tape (such as Fixomull) and if really problematic, a more specialised hydrocolloid type of dressing (such as Duoderm, Cutinova Hydro, Allevyn Thin) and then use Fixomull to secure.
Recognise hot spots: The key to blister prevention is to recognise ‘hot-spots’ which are slightly sore or warm patches of skin that can be caused by rubbing or pressure. Anyone who has experienced bad blisters will need no convincing that prevention is better than cure, so if you notice a ‘hot spot’ stop and fix it immediately.
Prepare your feet: Clip your toenails so they are short and rounded to help prevent pressure and bruising. A little callous is healthy, however you should gently file back excessive callous in the weeks prior to the event, or have it removed by a podiatrist. It’s a common misconception that hard skin prevents blisters – the worst blisters are under areas of callous. Moisturiser can be used daily to improve the elasticity of skin and minimise hardening.
Chafing is one of the most common discomforts for Trekkers.
Here are a few methods to prevent it:
- Underarms, nipples and legs are all prone to chaffing. Put bandaids or a hypoallergenic tape over the nipples and apply antifriction skin balm (not Vaseline) to the other areas. (Glide is a great anti chaffing product)
Wear a base layer of clothing that pulls perspiration away from your body. This helps with chafing and reduces chills from sweating.
What to eat before the event
As we can only store a limited amount of carbohydrates, you can increase your store directly before the event by carbohydrate loading. For three days before the event, increase your carbohydrate intake. During this time, eat less high-fat food because it makes you feel full and you won’t be able to eat the carbohydrates.
On the morning of the event, eat a high-carbohydrate breakfast 1–4 hours before the event to top up your carbohydrates one last time. Alternatively, if youhave an early start, eat a bigger dinner the night before and a smaller, carbohydrate-rich snack in the morning. Or you can simply be mindful of eating carbohydrates early and consistently in the event to ensure your levels aretopped up. This will help you to avoid hitting the wall.
What to eat during the event
What you eat during the event is a personal decision and should be trialed throughout your training. Experienced trekkers will have their own nutrition and eating plan. For others, the following are a few basic tips to get you going:
- Eat meals and snacks that are high in carbohydrates. Eating every hour should keep you on track.
- Meals can include a sandwich, wraps or roll.
- Snacks can include fruit, muesli bars or a nutmix
- Plan when you’ll eat. It’s often hard to replenish carbohydrates once you’ve hit the wall.
You may be surprised to how tired you feel after the event
Drinking water and eating carbohydrates and protein is important for recovery.
- Fifteen to thirty minutes after the event, have a snack that includes some carbohydrates and protein. This will help you recover effectively. During this time your muscles can easily absorb carbohydrate and protein.
- Make sure you drink plenty of fluids 24 to 48 hours after the event. Try sports drinks if you need to recover more quickly.
- Avoid drinking alcohol after the event. It has a negative impact on the recovery of nutrition and on soft-tissue injury caused by exercise.
- Maintaining the right level of hydration is essential for trekking long distances. In extreme cases, over-hydration can result in a severe medical condition called hyponatremia. Also on the other hand, failing to hydrate sufficiently can lead to significant health consequences like dehydration.
- A rough guide to drink (this may change due to weather) 500-750ml per hour of walking.
Paul Graham of Total Care Podiatry has recently provided some great additional information to help to Prepare your feet to last the Distance
Are your feet ready for the Trek?
Not long to go before you get to test yourself, and your feet, in the Surf Coast Trek experience. I’m hoping by this stage that you’ve had the opportunity to be part of Mick’s exercises classes and are doing the two and three hour walks on the weekends to build your stamina and test your equipment.
I’d like to offer a few ideas to make sure you happy feet are happy able to go the distance.
To begin with, make sure your feet are in the very best condition before the walk.
- Make sure you trim your toenails at least some days before the event. Make sure you round the edges using an emery board, (best done from the top to the bottom) and make sure you remove any edges. If any of the nails are lifting up, splitting or too thick, please contact a podiatrist immediately.
- Keep the spaces between your toes dry and clean of any sand, lint from socks, etc. The best way to achieve this is to use methylated spirits on a cotton ball, every day (be careful if you have cracks between your toes), wiping away any debris and leaving your toes open for a few minutes so the methylated spirits can evaporate and dry.
- If you have any thick calluses or cracked skin, particularly around the heel or under the ball of the foot, this needs to be addressed by a podiatrist as soon as possible. If the skin is only dry, with no cracks, a good-quality moisturising lotion should be used up until a week before the trek, so the skin tone is ready for the stress of the trek.
Shoes – fit & comfort
Have you noted any issues with the fit or comfort of your shoes during your preparation?
- Is there pressure on your toes after you have been walking for 2 to 3 hours and your feet have swollen?
- Have you noticed that your heel slips up and down when your muscles have become tired after a few hours of walking?
- Have you noticed that as your feet become swollen there are some pressure points on your feet that are visible after you take your socks off?
Hopefully your answers to the above questions will be ‘no’ and you can depend on the comfort and support level of your shoes.
It’s important to understand that one of the great benefits of good shoes is their ability to be adjusted throughout the walk as your foot volume changes. This change, due to swelling, is very individual in nature and perfectly normal, as it is the body’s way to ensure that all the tissues of the foot that don’t have a direct blood supply, have enough nutrient and oxygen to function normally under the stress of exercise.
It’s good practice to monitor how your shoes are fitting every 5 to 10 km and when necessary stop and adjust the laces to suit. Different lacing options that can be used to accommodate changes can be found by clicking here
For those people who answered ‘yes’ to the questions, it’s probably best that you contact me as soon as possible so we can discuss solutions.
Blisters – prevention and management
Blisters are caused by a combination of the skin tone, (not being too wet) and friction from pressure areas.
- Make sure you’re wearing the right socks to reduce the risk of building up the friction that will cause blisters. Some people think that natural fibres such as cotton or wool are the best, but they become damp with perspiration and tend to hold that against the skin. This can then lead to the skin becoming white and soggy which is called maceration and seriously reduces the ability of the skin to cope with stress.
The best socks are polypropylene that transfer or wick away the perspiration from the skin and through the sock. An example is Coolmax®, but there are many others just as good. Removing the perspiration away from the skin, ensures it remains dry and strong and much less likely to blister.
- Another great way of significantly reducing friction is to wear two pairs of socks; one very thin so it stretches around the foot without having any creases and then a second sock, worn on top, perhaps with extra cushioning around the heel and the forefoot. This way the friction occurs between the two socks or between the sock and the shoe so there is no friction affecting the skin.
If you are prone to getting blisters on your toes, you could consider a thin pair of toe socks as your first pair as these will provide two layers between each toe. If you wear two pairs it’s really important to get the right type of sock that will transfer the perspiration through each layer out to the shoe. Also, make sure there’s enough give in the socks so your foot can swell without them becoming tight.
- If there is any particular lump or bump on your foot, perhaps at the back of the heel, over your big toe joint, on the top, or on the outside of your foot, you need to share any pressure away from that site. There’s a number of ways to do this, but depending on the size of the lump, different lacing techniques, anti-friction pads or felt padding or a combination of these, can successfully redistribute any pressure from these areas.
If you’ve noticed after a walk that you have some hot spots which have the potential to become blisters, please contact me as soon as possible to discuss your requirements.
A number of participants have taken up my offer of individual assessments and I’m very pleased that every one has been quite active in their preparation for the walk. I’m sure Mick could say the same, with the number of walkers who have taken up the great opportunity he’s offered. However, even with the greatest preparation injuries can happen, shoes can fall to bits, blisters can occur, but everyone can still have a lot of fun.
I look forward to seeing you as I’ll be ready for any foot first-aid, just past the halfway mark, for anyone who needs a bit of encouragement or foot care!
I wish you all great walking and a fantastic experience!
Total Care Podiatry
209 Malop Street Geelong
Ph 5223 1531
WARNING: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional podiatric advice. Treatment will vary between individuals depending upon your diagnosis and presenting complaint. An accurate diagnosis can only be made following personal consultation with a Podiatrist.
Paul Graham from Total Care Podiatry in Geelong suggests that getting your feet ready for a 40 km trek needs a lot of planning and preparation and like your fitness, it has to start now, not the week before or the day before. You can minimise the risk of pain and injury by what you do now in your preparation.
Paul has researched and written a blog post for us using the latest information- check out Paul’s blog post here.
He has also kindly offered trek participants a complimentary foot and leg assessment which will look at your individual needs and provide solutions so you can complete the walk and still be smiling!.
Call 5223 1531 to book in. Make sure you mention that you have registered for the Surf Coast Trek.
You may have a wider forefoot and find that your heel often slips in boots or shoes. You may have had a previous injury that limits the range of motion in your feet or legs.
It is easy to see where the pressure is high under your feet if you have a build up of hard skin or an enlargement of the actual bones. While these issues may not cause any difficulties or discomfort with day-to-day activities or even casual exercise routines, the stresses are very much increased over 40 km so the higher pressure areas may lead to problems – just when you don’t want them.
By assessing individual foot and leg structure and muscle and joint function, Paul can design solutions to address these issues which may include:
- Targeted exercises
- Shoe design features and styles and lacing techniques to address your foot shape and function
- Cushioning, weight-redistributive or corrective orthotics
- The use of poles or learning nordic walking to assist balance and offload your joints
- Foot Joint mobilisation program
- Strength and balance
- Blister and injury prevention strategies, especially if you have had previous injuries
Careful preparation of your level of fitness and strategies to compensate for your own individual body requirements is important before the trek begins
Paul will be able to work in with the 10 x Week Professional Personal Training Program offered by Mick O’Malley which is a great way of tailoring your fitness preparation. Make sure you let Paul know if you are taking part in Mick’s program.
Keeping your body in check – tips from Torquay Sports Medical Centre
Experts in sports medicine, physiotherapy and much more, the team at Torquay Sports Medical Centre have shared their advice on some common symptoms our Surf Coast Trekkers may face during training.
For further information, give Torquay Sports Medical Centre a call on 5264 6098 or visit their website!