When training for and participating in any long distance event, the gear you choose can and will make a big difference in your ability to participate, complete, and recover from the event.
Start with, YOUR FEET!
We know most walkers will be on their feet, walking, for 5-8 hours for 3 days. That’s a long time and can cause serious issues. Poor shoe and sock choices can result in blisters, knee and hip pain, as well as ankle injuries. (Although curbs can also contribute to those ankle injuries – Just ask my 2011 walking partner)
- Your Shoes can make all the difference. My suggestion is to visit a GOOD running store. The specialists there should be able to watch you walk and suggest the best shoe for you.
- My issues are pronation so I need good arch support and narrow feet. New Balance, now, causes me to end up with feet full of blisters. (In the first two walks they were amazing and I didn’t get the first blister during the first walk.)
- I have worn:
- Socks – Good socks and plenty of them. Wet feet are blistered feet! Keep your feet DRY. When possible. The 2005 Tampa 3-day was a monsoon with water nearly up to our knees in places. Dry feet were not an option. If it is an option keep them dry.
- I tried MANY different combinations in the past two years to find the right combination to keep my feet blister free. – I discovered my shoes were too wide for my feet (see shoes)
- The one line of socks that have proven to be the best option for me, personally, have been SmartWool socks. They don’t match my outfits, but the keep my feet dry and cut way back on friction and blistering.
- Shorts/skorts – (sorry guys, I can’t help you here.) Ladies, this too can make a big difference. I’ve worn spandex shorts for 4 walks, 1 skort in that time. If your shorts are too short or ride up, its easy to become very uncomfortable – or worse yet, allow chafing to occur.
- I’ve had excellent results with longer spandex shorts.
- I look very forward to walking in my Sparkle Skirts this year. I just discovered this line of skorts. They are amazing. I can’t say enough good stuff about them! No riding up, tons of pockets, comfortable and FUN~! I get no kick-backs, I’m just a customer, but I LOVE my sparkle skirts and can’t wait to walk this final Tampa walk in mine.
- A GOOD Sports Bra. Nothing worse than those girls flopping around and bouncing for 5-8 hours for 3 days straight… then the pain of the body attempting to recover from it. I’ve always worn Champion brand sports bras. They work well for me. My girlfriend, who is much more endowed than I, wore two at a time to give herself the support she needed. (I also therefore make sure I have very loose fitting comfy AFTER clothes to relax in after I cross the finish line and shower.)
- Light Weight tank tops. A lot of people wear team shirts, we’ve worn team tank tops, but I really like the New Balance tank tops. These are super soft, have a mesh back that wicks water away, and wash well.
- Fanny pack or back pack – When on the walk, you don’t need to carry a lot of things, but you do need to carry some. I have a CamelBak that is my bag of choice. It carries a 3 liter water bladder (I only fill it to 1.5) and has a full back pack included. I keep my water bottle of Performance hydration in the side pocket and inside I carry:
- A Blister care pack/kit – basic 1st aid kit
- Knee brace (I have 1 tender knee) & an Ace Bandage
- Rain Coat (more to keep my gear dry than my person)
- Handkerchief for walking through cheering stations. (I’m a crier)
- Spare Socks
- Chewing gum
- Cell Phone
- Snack Bars & My “on the go lunch”
- Powdered Performance to refill my rehydration bottle.
- Usually some things for those around me.
- I also carry a New Trent battery back-up for my Cell phone & a USB cable.
- Tent Gear – just the basics. This is only 3 nights and NOT a beauty pageant so I pack very light.
- Duffel Bag – also doubles as my pillow
- Light weight sleeping bag
- 1 top sheet
- Tarp (in case it rains)
- Sleeping mat (cheap inflatable mattress to keep me off the ground)
- Basic Toiletries.
Hope this helps. I DO carry my Rehydration backpack on my training walks, mostly loaded as I will have it for the walk, so that my body is used to the weight and what will needed for the event.
My next 3-day 60-mile topic will be a VERY important one… Hydration!