- Cut your nails
Do it sooner than later. Even slightly overgrown toenails can become a problem. Don’t wait until the last day, in case your trim injures a nail or toe.
- Wear your shoes
Start wearing your shoes everyday now for some amount of time. Your feet will feel more comfortable on the day of the walk and they will adjust to them.
- Time is more important than miles
Walkers often talk in terms of time walking rather than the number of miles. You should already feel comfortable walking at a 3.5-4 mph pace. At this point, if you can’t get out for a long walk, just being on your feet is good practice for walking.
- Choose your fanny or your back
Walkers often prefer using a hiking fanny pack that goes around your waist like a belt but is light, has padding, pockets and bottle holders for water. Weather conditions and the supplies you choose to take with you may be the deciding factor between which you choose. There are many light backs and sling packs to choose from too.
- Remember water in and water out
We are never more than an hour or so from a source of supplies and bathroom. Be sure to drink along the way, even before you get thirsty to stay properly hydrated. We pass park fountains, convenience stores, gas stations and fast food restaurants. You should be able to purchase basic supplies like food, water and Gatorade along the way. But, don’t be afraid to ask to use a facility when you need to. Stay with a partner. There will be planned stops but if the group pulls ahead you’ll have plenty of time to catch up.
- Carbs are your friend
Regardless of what type of diet you may have followed in the past, this is no time to avoid carbs. You should bring energy foods such as granola, power bars, fruit, pasta, and even candy (avoid chocolate that might melt) with you to munch on a regular basis. I like to take a granola or the old standby hiker’s “gorp” which is a mix of dried fruit, nuts, and M&M’s. You’ll be burning off calories in the many hours of walking. We’ll still be stopping for a meal or two along the way, where we can shift to protein.
- Hats on
Take a hat you are comfortable with to provide some shade and protect you from many hours in the sun, and even a chance of rain. A baseball cap or brimmed hat works best.
- Block the Sun
At a minimum 30-SPF. My preference is a sport sunscreen that’s 50-SPF. Apply before you head out and reapply once or twice durng the event. It’s best to take a small trial size with you or borrow from someone along the way.
- State of the socks
Current wisdom gathered from recent practice walks is to use a cushioned sock with Coolmax or very soft Merino wool. A good sock liner can lessen friction, but is not required. Lubricate feet bottoms with Glide, Vasoline, or talc. Bring an extra pair of sox for a possible change along the way, especially if you are going beyond 25 miles.
- The way we walk
The sections of the East Coast Greenway we will be walking are 90% paved walks or roads. And the route is about 90% flat, with only a few short hilly areas - good news. The hard surface, however, will take some toll on your legs and feet. My suggestion is to wear shoes and sox that combined will provide some cushion. Go easy on your heels.