The Right Clothes for Walking

As I have been doing my training, I have figured out a few things about the clothes to wear or not wear. I am not a runner, and I believe they have different needs. As a walker though, I have discovered that for a long walk, just wearing your regular clothes is not a good idea. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert in this area, just wanted to share some things I’ve learned.

When I started my training, I wore an old, well-worn pair of Nike’s. I got shin splints every time. I went to Scheels, and got a good pair of shoes. I blogged about it here.

When I went to buy my shoes for The 3 Day, the salesperson at Scheels was very helpful. He seemed very knowledgeable on the products he was selling, and was himself, a runner. He talked to me about getting some socks with no cotton, and how they would really help with the prevention of blisters. At almost $10/pair, I thought he was just trying to upsell me. That said, I was sick of the blisters under my pinky toe, and figured I’d buy one pair to try. WOW! What a difference they actually made! I bought some other “moisture wicking” socks since then, but they don’t seem to do quite as good of a job. Turns out, there is a small percentage of cotton in those socks. 100% synthetic, is, apparently, the only way to go. Before the walk, I will be picking up a few more pairs.

The main thing I have learned in this area – jeans/denim is not a good idea for long walks. I figured “it’s just walking, why wear special clothes?” My first long training walk, I wore jeans. It was a chilly, rainy day, and I figured jeans would be the warmest. That was a bad idea. Denim, especially once it gets wet, and you start to sweat, starts to chaffe, in areas that you don’t want to walk miles and miles with. They also don’t stretch well, and tend to tighten in areas as you get hot and your body starts to swell. I think the jeans contributed to the hip pain I experienced on that walk.

I also have been learning about layers (especially when I was training in a very rainy/snowy spring). I don’t quite have this one mastered yet (for summer temps), but here’s what I discovered: a winter jacket, no matter how cold it is when you set out for a multi-mile walk, is NEVER a good idea. You’re going to get hot. When you start to heat up, and then over-heat, dehydration quickly sets in (even when you have a water bottle with you). Also, your heart may race, and you will feel quite fatigued, very quickly. When walking when the temps are cooler, a sweatshirt, preferable one that zips down, is a good idea. As your body warms up, you can unzip it to let some heat out. When you get warm enough, you can tie it around your waist.

I have not dabbled in all the breathable materials out there, or specialized clothes that so many runners wear. I have my t-shirts, and my stretchy-material pants/capris that I wore to dance class. Those seem to work just fine on my walks so far.

I know men out there don’t have to deal with this issue (lucky), but I have learned, the hard way, just how important it is to wear a good sports bra, even while walking! One morning, I set out for an early morning walk. I had my regular clothes on. I figured, it was just a couple miles, so it wouldn’t be a big deal. Let’s just say, my chest hurt so bad by the end of that day, and for 2 days afterwards. Since that day, I have only worn a sports bra if I was going for more than one mile! Oh, and to quote Karen Lopez (@datachick): “I’d bet that more than 50% of women’s running injuries are from trying to get in and out of a running bra.” While this may be true, you can also get injured NOT wearing one!

I haven’t gotten too burned not wearing sunblock, yet. Though, my face has had some interesting tan lines this summer (kind of like a raccoon, from sunglasses). Walking 20 miles in the sun, it goes without saying, that the effects could be BAD! When I post a training walk, I always remind people to have sunglasses and/or a hat, and recommend they wear sunblock.

Other Items
I have yet to discover the best kind of pack to wear on the walk… The 3 Day recommends a fanny pack of some sort. The pictures I have seen show some pretty huge ones! I’ll need to carry a water bottle, change of socks, my knee-brace (just in case), maybe some snacks, a poncho, bandaids, ibuprofin, etc… I bought a sling-style backpack to wear, but with my bad shoulders, it doesn’t seem to be working out. I have been practicing wearing it with my items inside, but my shoulders have gotten really sore the next day from wearing it on longer walks. My fanny pack is not large enough to hold everything I need. Not sure if I’ll end up getting something else, or just bring lots of Advil and wearing the sling-pack.

The walk is coming up quickly, and while I feel mostly prepared, I still feel like there are some things I need to figure out. I plan on buying some new insoles for my shoes, as mine are getting worn out. I don’t have a 2nd pair of shoes yet. I’m afraid I might be running out of time to get some, and get them broken in on time. I appreciate any comments on recommended items to bring, or wear on the walk.


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