Thursday, May 5, 2011

Essential 3 Day Walking Gear

In October of 2010, I walked 60 miles in the Tampa Bay Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure and raised over $3,000 in the fight against breast cancer. In training for the 3 Day, one of the most important things a walker can do (beside, well, walk) is to test out their gear. Your gear is going to get your through over 500 training miles and walking 60 miles in the course of 3 days. There is A LOT of trial and error with gear and I dealt with a lot of challenges in preparation for my walk. I'd like to share with you some of the gear that I used  in the hope that it will be easier for you to figure out what will work for you! Different things work for different people, but maybe something you see here will fit the bill. 

One of the first things that I discovered is that I have toes that both overlap and rub together.  This does not bode well for blister prevention!  When I discovered a thing called toe socks, I had to try it out immediately!  Needless to say, I was hooked.  These things saved my toes!  I also wrapped the more trying toes in some nylon wraps that I got from the drug store foot care section.

Body Glide is an anti-chafing formula that I used on my feet, where my arms rubbed against my shirt, and even where my legs touched when I walked.  This stuff is amazing.  It will help prevent blisters on your feet and rashes from skin rubbing.

I used this Coleman 4 Liter Waist Pack (in black) for all of my training walks and the event.  There were other packs that I liked because they felt more secure on me, but they were also at least double the size and that would be a huge mistake.  You don't want to carry anything unnecessary because the weight will add up.  This pack felt like it bounced on me when I first got it, but I also had never really worn one before.  After a few training walks, I got used to it and it wound up being perfect for me.

You will need to carry either a bottle of sport drink and a bottle of water with you or you will need to put half of each into both of your bottles (or camelback, if you prefer).  I started out filling my bottles with ice and then filling in the remainder with Gatorade.  Gatorade did what it was supposed to sport drink wise for me, but it was incredibly sweet.  On a recommendation, I tried Cytomax and liked it much, much better.  It did it's job as a sports drink and because I mixed it (it comes as a powder), I could adjust the sweetness.

I had MASSIVE blister/callous problems basically the entire time I was training and during the event.  This went hand in hand with starting training with problems with my feet and an ongoing issue finding the right shoes.  But, I digress.  On the actual 3 Day, not only will they have medical staff available at camp, lunch, and all pit stops but they also have a self serve blister care area that they highly encourage you to use.  They will provide all kinds of bandages, ointment, moleskin, etc. as well as this stuff called 2nd Skin.  It basically puts a protective layer between your blister and your sock and shoe.  It took me a while but I finally tried this out during training and it really did provide some relief and protection.

Moleskin is included in the 2nd Skin kit, but I also used it in places that I knew could be problem spots.  It gave me a little layer of protection that (usually) helped prevent a blister from forming.  The thing with moleskin is that you must, must, must make sure that it's on with no wrinkles and that the edges don't start to come up and rub.  Those things will totally defeat the purpose of using it and actually cause blisters.

The ASICS Gel Kahana 4 Trail Running Sneakers wound up eventually being my shoe of choice for the walk.  With all of the problems I had with my feet, I had to try multiple pairs of shoes before I found them.  Yes, finding the right pair of shoes can get expensive if, like me, you had problems or if you don't have someone that knows what they're talking about sizing you.  But you must make sure you have something that works.  And yup, you're going to want two pairs.  After walking 20-ish miles, the cushion will need to recover so your second pair will be used on the second day of the walk.

I often used a bandanna or a head wrap like this one by Buff to keep my hair back and to keep the sweat out of my eyes.  Lovely, I know.  You try training in the middle of the summer heat in Florida.  lol.

Underwear seemed to be the ongoing issue with a lot of women walkers and none of them wanted to talk about it.  Well, I'll talk about it.  First of all, I found a couple of pairs of Women's Boxer Briefs by Hanes during my training.  They were a limited edition type of thing, so I don't know if we'll ever see them again but I loved them.  They were long enough that there was no leg rubbing and they stayed in placed.   The only unfortunate thing about them was that they're made of cotton and cotton does not wick moisture very well.  Enter Patagonia Boy Shorts.  These undies rock for all of the reasons that the Hanes were so good PLUS they were moisture wicking.  Again, it's Florida, folks.

You may not think that a stress ball would be that important for a walking event but, trust me, they're worth it!  After walking for a few hours with your hands down by your sides, gravity starts to work and you get sausage fingers.  You'll see people out on the route doing jazz hands, with their hands over their heads, or with stress balls trying to work it out.

This is, by no means, an exhaustive list as there are other things you will need to fill your pack as well as for camping but at least it will get you started with some of the important stuff.  A few other things you will really need: two water bottles, sunscreen, sunscreen for your lips, sunglasses, hat, etc. Please let me know if you have any questions!  Best of luck on your walk & fundraising and enjoy the journey!!

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