You’ve all seen my rant about plus size women and activewear (and if you haven’t, let me guide you to my post on that!) but there are other things you may need to get when you start distance walking.
OK, shoes. This is a given. I highly recommend, however, that you don’t just go grab a pair of “tennies” at some big box store. It really pays to go to a store that specializes in running and walking. I went to a store in Campbell called Running Revolution to get my latest pair of shoes, but most towns and cities have running stores. The value of going to a store like this is that the people who work there know their stuff. I’m not so sure you’d get the same expertise at, say, Big 5.
When I went to get my shoes, they did a really thorough review of the shape of my feet (I’m pretty much a flat foot!), how I walked, reconfirmed shoe size, etc. The store was crowded (mostly with my Team Challenge cohorts) but they still spent a good amount of time making sure the shoes fit, that I felt comfortable walking in them, etc. The pair of shoes I got have gotten quite a workout these last 2 months and they feel great!
Beyond shoes, though, there are other things you can get that can make distance walking more pleasant. I bought some special socks that wick away moisture when you sweat. A godsend once you start hitting the 5-mile mark in training!
I also splurged and got some shirts that are made of a lightweight material that wick away moisture (men’s shirts, of course … sigh). I wore a cotton t-shirt once on my morning walk (I walk at 5AM on Mondays) and after 4 miles, I was sweating and the cotton just holds on to that sweat and makes walking extremely uncomfortable.
One thing I’m learning about is hydration. If you’re walking any significant distance, you need to bring water or some kind of sports drink with you. You gotta replace the fluids you’re sweating out! OK, so that’s something I can work on, but can you imagine holding a water bottle in your hand for 13.1 miles? UGH! I was in the market for a “hydration belt”. I needed on that was more designed to a distance walker than a distance runner. Why? A distance walker is on the course longer! So having one or two small water bottles on a belt is not enough for a walker. I started my research and whammo! What was the first barrier to finding a good hydration belt? You got it! They don’t make them big enough for a plus-size person to put around their waist! After much research, I found a nice hydration that a) FITS, b) has a larger water bottle and c) can carry my phone, gel packs and any other things I might want to carry along … like blister bandaids! It’s from Ultimate Direction and is called Strider. (I felt quite like Aragorn when I got it!) Psst … I found it cheaper on Amazon.com.
My last important piece of gear is my MP3 player. Now, I have an iPod Touch that has all my music, but it’s as big as my mobile phone and I didn’t want to carry 2 phones around. I didn’t want to dump all my music on my mobile, because the battery will run down faster and I use it to track my walking mileage. So … what to use? I decided I wanted something really small that could clip on my shirt collar. I thought about an iPod Nano but there’s no screen on it. I can just see me constantly fumbling trying to figure out how to get something to play while walking. What I found was a little 4GB player with a tiny screen AND a radio for my NPR addiction 🙂 The SanDisk Sansa Clip is exactly what I wanted! I have about 2-1/2 hours worth of music on it now, but need to increase to 4 hours for my half-marathon.
I guess that’s it for my gear. What do you find essential when you walk or run?