The beginners training guide is for participants who have never done anything like Oxfam Trailwalker. Beginners aim to get to the finish line within 48 hours.
Phase 1: Building a Base (weeks 1 to 4)
For the first week, just get out and walk. For some people this will be for 20 minutes and for others, 50 minutes. Don’t push, don’t hurt and don’t get breathless. Training should always be fun. For the next three weeks, keep walking. Try walking every other day, for a minimum of three times a week. Each time you walk, add five minutes to your walk and try to go a bit faster.
Phase 2: The Long Walk (weeks 5 to 10)
When you can comfortably walk for 50 minutes without a break, it’s time to look at building up your distance. The long walks are highly recommended so your team can test equipment; hydration and nutrition systems; and, of course, team dynamics. Phase 2 includes a mixture of easy training days, medium to hard days, and then the long walk on the weekend. See the Sample Beginner Sessions below.
Phase 3: Peak (weeks 11 to 12)
In Phases 3 and 4, you are maximising your strength and fitness, then tapering off so you’ll be in peak condition for the actual event. The long walk included in this phase will mentally prepare you for the distance and time required. Your team should agree on a strategy for rest stops and sleeping on the trail, and you should decide on your individual plan for what to carry, wear, drink and eat. Weeks 11 and 12 will be similar to the preceding weeks but the long walk will link several sections of the trail and should be at least 50 kilometres long.
Phase 4: Taper (weeks 13 to 14)
Reduce the amount of training on the two weekends prior to the event — especially the long walk, which should drop back to two or three hours in week 13 and one or two hours in week 14. Shorten the weekday walks and reduce the intensity to a comfortable level. You should now be fit and well rested. Stick to the plan and enjoy Oxfam Trailwalker!
SAMPLE BEGINNER SESSIONS
PHASE 2: The Long Walk
Monday – Rest day
Tuesday – Hard day
Walk for 45 minutes. Include a hilly section so you can experience both the uphill work and the downhill pressure on your knees and legs. Push yourself and ‘feel’ the hills.
Wednesday – Easy day
Walk at a relaxing pace for at least 45 minutes. Focus on your heart rate, stride length, posture, breathing, etc. In the later weeks, try some of these walks at night.
Thursday or Friday – Medium day
Warm up for 5 minutes at an easy pace, stretch for 5 minutes, then walk quickly for 20 minutes, walk slowly for 10 minutes and end with a 15-minute stretch. Rest on the other day.
Saturday or Sunday – Long walk
Do a long, steady walk, preferably on the trail with your teammates. The distance should increase each week, from three hours to ten hours. Weekly increases must take into account the difficulty of the trail (i.e. don’t increase the walk by two hours and attempt the most difficult trail sections) and breaks should be taken after three weeks of steady increases.
Here’s a sample training plan for your weekly long walk:
Week 5 – 3 hours, medium terrain
Week 6 – 4 hours, easy terrain
Week 7 – 4 hours, hard terrain
Week 8 – 3 hours, medium terrain
Week 9 – 5 hours, easy terrain
Week 10 – 6 hours, easy terrain
Each long walk brings you closer to your goal: the 100-kilometre Oxfam Trailwalker. The walks also give you the satisfaction of gaining fitness, strength and the occasional ‘runner’s high’! Have fun with your teammates and enjoy the outdoors.