Be very considerate when choosing socks for a walking trip. This is one of the most important elements of the outfit, since feet bear your weight when you walk. The right choice of socks will make you feel comfortable during the trip and will protect from blisters, calluses and corns.
Having walked several hundred kilometres, we can confirm the significance of choosing the right size of socks. When picking socks, we often have a scale of several sizes. For example, if your shoe size is 40, you could choose between sizes 38-39 and 40-41. But if your foot fits nicely and tightly into socks of size 38-39, which do not squeeze your feet, we recommend choosing this size for the beginning of the trip. Larger socks may have excess fabric to enable them to stretch, which is likely to form wrinkles during a long trip. Wrinkles will inevitably cause blisters.
Please keep in mind that your feet may sweat and swell when walking long distances. Since moisture is not healthy for your feet, to prevent pain and injury, take at least one spare pair of socks so you will have the opportunity to change them during the trip. If the size of the socks you choose is “on the verge” and may become too tight when your feet swell, it is worthwhile to have a pair of larger socks. This way, you can decrease the pressure placed on the feet and reduce discomfort.
Depending on the weather, it’s worthwhile to choose synthetic fibre or merino sheep’s wool socks. They breathe well and quickly wick away sweat. As moisture is bad for your feet, avoid socks made from cotton or other moisture-absorbing fibres. They will definitely cause you inconvenience.
Regardless of the summertime heat, do not choose very short or thin socks. Ideally, they should be denser at the ankle and foot pads. The latter reinforcement provides more stability to the foot. To prevent calluses, protect foot areas which experience the most pressure: foot pads, heels and toes. For this purpose, you can choose socks with padding, apply silicone patches or sprinkle feet with baby or special powder.
Shoes are one of the essential elements of a walking trip, especially of a long one. The most important aspects are the right size, technology and construction of the sole, which must be appropriate for the purpose of the shoes and the surface you will walk on.If you are going to buy new shoes, be sure to try them by walking shorter distances before you go to a long trip. This way, you will make sure that your shoes are not too tight and do not rub, and you will stretch them a bit according to the shape of your feet.
Choose boots with a medium-high top (slightly above the ankle). The sole should be slightly thinner than footwear for mountain trips. Shoes with lower tops and more flexible soles are more suitable for warmer seasons. As an alternative, you can choose off-road running shoes that are ideal for trips on plain or uneven surfaces. This type of footwear will absorb impact and give you a feeling of comfort, as you will feel fewer bumps on uneven surfaces. If you consider wearing casual shoes, which may have a thin sole, consider the impact of shocks and the risk of foot instability. You may be able to walk the chosen distance, but your feet will require longer and more frequent rests, and you will need more time to recover after the trip.
Even when you select shoes for casual wear, the most important aspect is the proper size of the shoes. If you walk short distances, the size of your feet still varies by several millimetres depending on the weight the foot must bear, the air temperature, rate of moisture evaporation and other factors. When choosing close-toed shoes, leave 5 to 10 millimetres of free space for the feet to move. When walking long distances, the feet swell, so if in normal conditions boots are one size too big, they will be just right during a trip.
Clothing worn during a trip should breathe, wick away moisture and be comfortable, so we recommend choosing from synthetic or merino wool clothing. Why? Because these types of clothing, in contrast to our usual leisurewear made of cotton fibre, do not retain a large amount of moisture and dry much faster while allowing the body to breathe. This prevents you from experiencing discomfort and possible health issues. Synthetic fabrics are much more robust compared to other types, giving you more confidence and ease of movement.
It is also very important to prepare for various weather conditions, and here the rule of three layers will help.
I LAYER or the base layer functions in quickly wicking away the moisture. This is extremely important because moisture not only causes discomfort but also attracts chill (especially when you stop after being active or begin to move less).
We recommend that you choose well-fitting clothes in synthetic or merino wool fabric. Columbia T-shirts with Omni-Freeze™ technology are perfect for hot weather. They do not only breathe, but they also refresh your body and protect against harmful UV rays. Alternatively, you may want to consider a Jack Wolfskin T-shirt with Silk Touch Jersey Texacool Q.M.C. S.Fresh technology, which will remind you of silk. This technology also wicks away moisture, does not absorb odours and will help you maintain the right body temperature.
II LAYER is designed to retain heat and remove excess moisture. We also recommend choosing these clothes according to the weather conditions. When considering possible options for the second layer, keep in mind that you may feel cold or warm depending on the walk. For your convenience, choose clothes that can be easily and fully unbuttoned. In the warm season, we recommend Columbia Silver Ridge shirts, which protect your hands and neck from UV rays and possible burns during long trips and breathe well. Choose fleece in the colder season – it’s extremely light, takes up little space, maintains optimal body temperature and has good breathing properties. Fleece is extremely rich in both thickness and detail.
III LAYER takes care of outer protection. Waterproof and windproof clothes are the perfect choice, but the clothes must also breathe. We recommend choosing the Columbia Pouring Adventure jacket with Omni-Tech membrane. If the weather is rainy and you plan to carry a heavy backpack, we recommend the Jack Wolfskin Sierra Trail, which offers excellent waterproof properties and wicks away moisture. Remember that windproof and waterproof jackets do not always breathe well, so be sure to pay attention to their functionality when making a purchase. Based on experience, we highly recommend washing water-resistant clothes which you have been wearing for a long time and re-impregnating them.
For longer distances, choose comfortable trousers that will not restrict your movement. We do not recommend traveling in jeans or trousers made of very stiff fabric, which will cause discomfort on long walks. Choose synthetic fibre, polyester or nylon trousers, which will wick away moisture and provide a feeling of comfort. Please note that the trousers you choose should contain elastane. We recommend for this trip the Columbia Titan Peak trousers, which also are moisture and wind resistant, and the Jack Wolfskin Activate Light trousers with the same characteristics. For those who are looking for a universal model for both summer and winter, we recommend choosing trousers with detachable trouser legs – when you start the trip early in the morning when it is still cool, you can wear long trousers, and when the weather gets warmer, you can detach the bottoms of your trousers and walk in shorts.
When choosing clothes, be sure to consider the weather conditions, and do not forget that clothes are seldom designed for absolutely everything, so choose clothing with the most suitable features. Also keep in mind that although walking is not an intense sport, we recommend that you have alternate clothes that you can change into when you stop or at the end of the trip.
Your backpack is the most important element of the trek‘s equipment, as you will be using it during the entirety of the trek. Choose a comfortable, sturdy travel backpack which does not rub or press on your back and is moisture-resistant or fitted with a protective cover.
We highly recommend trying your backpack out at least a few times prior to the walk, so that you get familiar with its capacity and find ways to use it to its full advantage. You will also be able to make sure that you truly need all of the belongings that you can fit in it. Depending on which route you are set on conquering, you should have a backpack with a capacity of 20 to 45 litres.
The contents of your backpack should mainly consist of:
Walking poles are extremely useful when walking long distances. They reduce the physical strain on your legs and keep all of your bodily movements in equilibrium. If you use the poles correctly, you will be able to walk faster, especially when hiking uphill. If you are walking downhill, the poles will prevent you from losing your balance. They will also come in handy if you need to jump over a small stream or encounter other obstacles along the road.
Experts recommend putting your hiking poles in your backpack and walking a couple of kilometres without them every 20 kilometres or so in order to give your upper body a rest.
Nordic walking poles are the most suitable for walking long distances. You should lean on them in a backwards movement while holding the poles at a slight angle and use them to push yourself forwards. Nordic walking poles are light and are made using fiberglass, thus you should avoid leaning on them while taking a rest.
Trekking poles are designed specifically for mountain hiking – however, if you utilise their whole length, you can use them according to the principles of Nordic walking. They are stronger than Nordic walking poles and are made using aluminium alloys – you can safely lean on them while taking a rest. We recommend choosing these poles if you happen to be hiking on mountainous terrains more frequently than in flatlands.
Walking poles will enable you to perform stretching exercises for your back, shoulders and arms without having to take a break from hiking. Simply lift the poles up in front of you and lean forwards a couple of times, then repeat the exercise while leaning to the right and to the left. The muscles in the upper part of your body are also hard at work when you are walking, so it is important to give them a chance to rest by doing some stretching.
Participants of the 75 km and the 100 km routes must have flashlights on them, as the majority of these treks will take place during the night. We recommend choosing a flashlight that you can mount on your head (a cyclop). A hand-held flashlight is suitable as well, but it is much less comfortable – you will have to carry it in your hand while walking a long distance, and you will not be able to hold it at all if you use trekking poles. Mobile phone flashlights should only be used as a last resort (if the battery of a regular flashlight dies) or if you need the light for a short time only.
Participants of the 75 km and the 100 km routes must have safety reflectors on them during the night. Make sure that you have a safety reflector on your outdoor clothes or your backpack – you must stay visible to the organisers of the trek and other walkers at all times, as well as drivers (if you are crossing a road or walking along a bike path).
You must have a mobile phone with you at all times during the trek. If your phone battery tends to drain quickly, take a spare external battery with you. If you are going to use mobile apps to track your physical activity (e.g., Endomondo) during the walk, keep in mind that your phone battery will drain much faster than usual.
A mobile phone is vital, as you might need to contact the organisers or emergency services in order to receive necessary information and help.
It is extremely important to have a small first aid kit and basic hygiene products, as well as necessary medications, with you during the trek.
We recommend having the following items as part of your first aid kit and hygiene products:
If you have specific health problems that require additional medications, make sure to take them with you.
Athletic tape will also come in handy during the trek if you encounter chafing or calluses, while elastic or regular bandage will help if you happen to sprain a joint or injure a knee.
There will be first aid kits available in all of the leisure and help posts during the trek – you will have access to their contents if you are in need of medical help.
We can safely say that psychological, not physical, endurance is key in long-distance treks.
All the limits – both of the ‘I can‘ and ‘I cannot‘ variety – are located inside your head.
However, choosing a route which is right for you and preparing yourself for conquering it will make pushing those boundaries a whole lot easier. Taking some time to prepare yourself for the coming trek will enable you to feel much more confident in your physical and psychological abilities.
We would like to share some tips on how to do just that with you – they are based on our first-hand experience, as well as consultations with the specialists at the Functional Therapy Centre.
First of all, you should consider your fitness level – how often do you engage in sports and active movement?
If your job is sedentary and you hardly move at all, we recommend choosing a shorter route or starting your preparation for the walk as early as possible.
If you do not walk or jog regularly, but engage in other types of active sports (basketball, football, volleyball, skiing), it is a good sign – preparing yourself for the trek and conquering a longer distance will not be all that difficult.
Before embarking on any trek, your body has to be warmed up properly. Whether you are going on a short walk or conquering a longer route, you should still do some light warm-up exercises at home or at the starting line. You should also perform these exercises regularly – your muscles will not only warm up, but grow stronger over time as well.
Test walks are a great way to prepare your body for the coming trek, as well as try out your clothing and break in your trekking shoes – you will be able to rest assured knowing that there will be no unpleasant surprises waiting for you during the trek.
When training for your chosen route, your goal should be to walk at least half of the distance that you are set on conquering during the trek prior to the event.
If you do not move much, start off by taking short walks – a trip of 1 to 3 kilometres while walking to work, a shop that is further away from home or a friend‘s house fits the purpose.
Over the first few weeks, you can increase this distance up to 5 kilometres a day. Walk at your usual pace – your breathing has to remain calm. You can take breaks of 1-2 days between separate walks. Your goal is to conquer at least 10-20 kilometres over the course of a week.
If you are generally quite active or have chosen one of our longer routes, we recommend walking at least 7-8 kilometres a day.
If you are able to take short walks like these everyday, you should do just that. Later on in your preparation, set aside a few hours and embark on longer walks of around 10 kilometres.
If you are set on conquering one of our longest routes, it is important for you to perform at least three long-distance test walks prior to the actual trek.
We recommend walking at least ⅓ of your chosen distance a couple of months prior to the trek. Bring some friends along with you, choose a city or forest route that you have been dreaming of conquering for ages, and go!
We recommend walking half of your chosen route 4-5 weeks before the trek. Organise a serious test walk.
Choose a circular route that allows you to start and finish your trek at the same point. This is exactly how our treks are made: the walkers return to the starting line at the end of their walk.
You should take short breaks of around 10-15 minutes every hour or so during your test walk – it is a great idea to do some stretching exercises during these breaks. Do not forget to have some water and light snacks with you.
It is important to limit these breaks to less than 20 minutes – otherwise your body might lose some of the necessary heat that it has accumulated.
If you have a chance, ask your loved ones to bring some tea and food to your chosen location along the route and wait for you there. If you cannot do that, plan your route in a way which allows you to come home or visit a café after conquering half of the walk, so that you can have some food, do stretching exercises, rest for a while and then continue walking.
You should organise another test walk 2-3 weeks prior to the trek – this time around, you should conquer ⅔ of your chosen distance.
Take rest breaks from time to time, just as you did earlier. It is vital to try out all of the clothing and equipment that you are planning to use during the trek over the course of this test walk.
It is crucial for you to rest for 1-2 weeks between longer test walks.
We recommend taking short everyday walks of around 3-10 kilometres (depending on your chosen route) during this time, but you should avoid walking long distances.
Your body has to regain its strength during the last two weeks before the main challenge.
You should avoid engaging in other sports in order to protect yourself from traumas – even small injuries can prevent you from conquering your route successfully and enjoyably.
Even if you are extremely well-prepared for the trek, you should still adhere to certain advice while embarking on it.
The two most important things when walking long distances are endurance and maintaining a walking speed that suits the needs of your body.
You do not have to train hard in order to improve your walking speed and endurance.
In this case, interval training – i.e., 3-4 short periods of walking faster – is enough.
While walking, it is advisable to choose an object in the distance and try to maintain a faster, yet still light, walking speed until you reach it.
You should walk faster for a period ranging from 30 seconds to a few minutes and slow down again once the object is reached.
Later on in your training, you can try and choose an object which is further away from you, increasing the length of the interval of walking faster from a few to around 15 minutes.
If you perform 2-3 test walks a week and conquer 3-5 cycles of interval training during each and every one of these walks, you will definitely notice an improvement in your endurance and walking speed over time.
Another important aspect of the walk is good posture. When walking, imagine that there is a hook in your hair – you are hanging on it and it is pulling you upwards.
Use your muscles to pull the upper part of your body up.
You should teach yourself to use your strongest muscles while walking – namely your buttocks and the muscles at the backs of your thighs.
Try and use your whole foot (especially the toes and the middle part of the foot) when taking a step forwards, so that you can feel the muscles in your buttocks working.
If you are carrying a backpack and notice some back pain, try clenching your buttocks every time you step forward.
If your legs are extremely tired, try walking backwards or sideways for a couple of minutes.
This method allows your main muscles to rest for a while.
If you have walking poles with you during the trek, you will be able to use them to perform stretching exercises for your back, shoulders and arms.
Lift the poles up in front of you and lean forwards a couple of times, then repeat the exercise while leaning to the right and to the left.
The muscles in the upper part of your body are also hard at work when you are walking, so it is important to give them a chance to rest by doing some stretching.
You can try walking on tiptoe or using your heels only for short periods of about 30 seconds during the trek.
If there is a clearing or a fallen log in front of you, try crossing these natural balance-improvers by putting one foot in front of the other.
Listen to your body
All limits are indeed located inside your head – however, this does not mean that you should disregard the signals that your body is sending you.
If you detect some fatigue in your muscles and body while walking, then the limit which you are about to reach is only psychological.
On the other hand, if you start feeling pain, extreme dizziness or lightheadedness, you should pay attention to these signals and ask yourself if you are truly able to go on walking.
You should pay special attention to the most frequent traumas that walkers encounter, as well as their early signals – namely, back or knee pain, which can be a sign of the advent of serious problems.
The most frequent complaints expressed by long-distance walkers include:
If you experience these sorts of pain consistently during your test walks, we recommend consulting your doctor.
In order to successfully conquer the entirety of your chosen route, you, as well as all of the other participants of the trek, must take proper care of your food and water supplies.
When walking long distances, the organism is quick to dehydrate, thus it is extremely important to have enough water with you at all times.
Because water is naturally absorbed quicker than any other liquid, it has to dominate in your liquid ration during the trek.
The recommended quantity of water to be consumed in one day by one person is 0,03 litres per one kilogram of body mass – however, this number has to be at least doubled in times of greater physical exertion.
Depending on their chosen route of the trek, individual body weight and air temperature, every participant has to consume:
Consumption of this quantity has to be planned in such a way that you are in possession of enough water in between leisure and help posts, which are located every 5-6 kilometres along the route of the trek.
Water supplies can be refilled at the posts, so you should have a water flask or a bottle with a capacity of 1-1,5 litres with you during the trek.
It is vital for every walker to understand that they should be drinking water constantly – thirst is only felt when the organism already lacks 0,5-1 litre of water, thus it is not a valid signal of dehydration.
On the contrary, thirst means that dehydration has already happened and is now becoming worse.
Additional liquids can never act as water substitutes. When keeping track of your daily liquid consumption, these drinks should be treated as additional supplies.
In times of intense physical exertion, we recommend consuming concentrated energy sources, such as carbohydrate-electrolyte drinks or energy gels. If you are using these drinks, you should also increase your water consumption.
We would like to remind you that it is extremely important to test these drinks out during your training, so that you know exactly how your body reacts to them.
Participants of all the routes will receive snacks or dinner during the trek, depending on which route they have chosen.
You can check which meals you are entitled to in our Registration table.
Vegetarian, as well as vegan, options will also be made available.
When choosing additional food for the walk, which is an absolute necessity for those of you who have chosen to walk longer routes, as well as anybody who wants to have enough energy to complete their chosen trek, you should keep in mind that you will have to carry it with you along the whole route.
If you tend to have a bigger appetite or have chosen to walk one of our longest routes, we recommend having some additional high-calorie, slow-release food with you (meat, dairy products, eggs, fish, legumes) – it will release its energy gradually over the course of a few hours.
Participants walking 50 km should consume around 2 000 calories, participants of the 75 km route should increase their intake up to 3 000 calories, while those walking 100 km should ingest roughly 4 000 calories. Calorific food should be eaten moderately, as it takes a great deal of energy to digest fatty meals.
We recommend concentrating on complex carbohydrates (grain porridge, pasta, sandwiches made with whole-grain bread, etc.). You should also limit your consumption of products that do not go well together, as poor digestion can become a big obstacle on a long journey.
We recommend taking some energy bars, chocolate, glucose tablets and fruit with you – these types of food are easy to carry and can be consumed while on the move. You need food that is energy-dense and easy to digest.
Participants who have chosen to walk one of our longest routes should have:
Do not forget to eat healthy and nutritious food at least a couple of weeks before the trek, as well as on its eve, in order to strengthen your body.
Prior to the trek
A long-distance walk will require a great deal of endurance, so your organism will be using up energy that has been accumulated over a long period of time.
It is best to accumulate it by adding food which is rich in complex carbohydrates to your daily ration (grain porridge, pasta, bread-based products, potatoes, corn, etc.).
We recommend avoiding alcohol and consuming a lot of liquids (especially water) during the week before the trek.
The eve of the trek and breakfast
We suggest eating moderately on the eve of the walk – choose low-fat food that is easy to digest for dinner and consume it before 7 PM in order to get a good night‘s sleep.
Breakfast should also include light food, like oat flakes or porridge. You should also try and stay away from excess sugar.