SHOULD I EAT BEFOREHAND?
If you’re planning to set a cracking pace or tackle interval training at 6am, keep breakfast small and simple—think a piece of fruit, or low-fat yoghurt.
Why? The human body doesn’t love digesting food and exercising hard at the same time. That said, a leisurely stroll after a large meal could help enhance digestion and burn a few extra kilojoules. If you do head out pre-breakfast, drink a nice, tall glass of water to ease any overnight dehydration.
The only rule in regards to food? Listen to your body’s cues.
HOW FAST SHOULD I BE GOING?
Try wearing a pedometer, or use a smartphone app like Map My Walk (free, mapmywalk.com/app) to track how far you’ve gone in a certain time frame.
You can also take a stopwatch to time how long it takes you to blitz one kilometre.
As a guide, if it’s 12 minutes, you’re travelling at about 5km/h, an average walking pace.
If you’ve picked up speed and it takes about 9 minutes, then that’s just over 6km/h. Simple!
HOW MUCH ENERGY DOES 1 KM BURN?
The average 68kg person burns between 200 to 250 kilojoules a kilometre.
However, that changes depending on height, weight, fitness level, terrain, clothing and temperature.
Trying to lose weight? Forget numbers. Instead, squeeze as much physical activity into your day as possible, including walking for at least 30 minutes.
Your body will thank you.
WHEN SHOULD I GET NEW SHOES?
Replace your walking shoes when you’ve clocked up between 600 to 1000 kilometres.
At that point, it doesn’t matter if the shoes still look like they’re in great condition, they’ve lost a lot of their cushioning and you could end up doing more damage to your body than good. New pair of Nike’s anyone?
MY HANDS SWELL WHEN I WALK, WHY?
The first thing to know: swelling in your hands is totally normal. When you swing your arms, blood rushes down into your fingers, puffing up your hands. It isn’t harmful, but it can be uncomfortable, so take off any rings before you walk. Alternatively, try squeezing your hands into fists from time to time.
HELP! MY LOWER LEGS REALLY HURT!
It sounds like shin splints, a common problem among novice walkers. It happens when you do too much too soon—something we’re all guilty of every now and then! To avoid them, bump up your distance and pace gradually, and remember to warm up.
Already overdone it? Try slowing down and stretching. Stand facing the nearest wall or tree, then lean forward, putting your palms against it and keeping heels flat on the ground. Or try sitting on a bench with legs straight out in front, and flexing your feet toward you.
Still sore? Apply ice, wrapped in a towel, to the area for 15 minutes when you get home.
WHAT SHOULD I DO ABOUT HEEL PAIN?
Heel pain often results from a condition called plantar fasciitis—inflammation of the plantar fascia, a sheath of connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot.
That’s why stretching is so important. No relief after a week or two?
Invest in better walking shoes or special inserts to keep your ankles from rolling inward (aka overpronating).
You can find a qualified podiatrist in your area at the Australasian Podiatry Council website, apodc.com.au.
HOW CAN I AVOID BLISTERS?
In three easy ways. First, when you feel a ‘hot spot’ on your foot, act right away.
Take off your shoe and apply an adhesive bandage over the affected area. Next, make sure your shoes fit both feet—often one foot is larger than the other.
Lastly, wear socks made from fibres that wick away moisture. Skip the cotton in favour of synthetic blends. Happy walking!