Ultimate Walking Challenge: Part 6

It's the countdown to the finish line—we give you all the race-day pointers you need to walk the half-marathon. Ready, set, go!
Woman tying shoe, preparing for a run

Go the Distance

Congratulations—you did it! You've reached the final chapter of Weight Watchers Magazine's Ultimate Walking Challenge. If you've committed yourself to our plan, you've probably noticed your energy level climbing and your clothing size dropping. But trust us—the best is yet to come.

Nothing beats the feeling of accomplishment you'll get when you complete the Challenge's ultimate goal: crossing the finish line of a half marathon. In this countdown to the grand finale, we bring you a walking plan designed by June Kahn, a walking instructor in Colorado. Plus, we have all the tips and advice you'll need to perform at your peak. All your hard work has finally paid off. Now, go get your medal!

Race Day Musts
A Comfy Outfit
Choose a race-day outfit made from moisture wicking fabrics (such as CoolMax). Then, test it out on one of your training walks to make sure it's comfortable. For example, be sure your shorts don't ride up. Also, think in layers. A must: A lightweight jacket that you can remove and tie at your waist.

A Personal Playlist
Create a race-day mix of your favorite walking tunes. Put fast-paced songs toward the end, when you'll need an extra burst of motivation.

A Snack Pack
Cut snacks like string cheese and energy bars into bite-size pieces the night before the race. Put the snacks into zip-close plastic bags so they're easy to access—and eat—as you walk.

A Perfect Drink
Freeze a bottle of water the night before race day so it stays cold as you walk. Also, most courses have H20 breaks every few miles—use them as your cue to stop and rehydrate. Make sure to stretch at these breaks if muscles feel sore or tight.

A Potty Plan
Know beforehand where the portable toilets are. A word to the wise: Bathroom lines are usually the longest at the beginning of the course, so go before you start the race. Plan on getting there about 45 minutes early and stand in line for a stall. Use this waiting time to do a pre-race warm-up by marching in place or doing a few quick stretches.

A Good Pace
Go at the pace of your last training walk (comfortable to moderate intensity) and keep the speed constant. Use your breath to gauge your pace. If you're short of breath, slow down.

A Blister Buster
Try this runner's tip that also works well for walkers: If you feel a blister coming on, put on a Band-Aid; then spread a gob of petroleum jelly over it to minimize friction and prevent your sock or shoe from rubbing against your skin.

A Cheering Section
Have friends and family members posted at various mile-markers along the route. Ask them to hold signs with encouraging messages as they cheer you on. Don't forget to have a pal snap a picture at the finish line for post-race motivation.

Road Rules
Race day is no time for surprises. Look over the rules of the race to get all the facts. Rules can typically be found on a race's Web site. Be sure to know the answers to these questions:

  • Am I allowed to use an iPod or other music player?
  • May non-registered friends walk a stretch of the course with me?
  • If I'm on the course longer than the specified number of hours, will I be allowed to finish?
  • Will volunteers direct walkers along the route? If not, how will the course be marked?

Three Post-Walk Tips
After the race it's time to celebrate, not suffer. To stay in superstar mode, follow this important recovery advice from Darrin Bright, M.D., director of MAX Endurance Academy in Columbus, Ohio:

  1. Slowly walk around the finish area for 5 to 10 minutes to cool down after completing the race. Stopping suddenly could cause you to faint, feel light-headed, or get cramps.
  2. Rehydrate and eat something to replenish you energy. Take advantage of the healthy, low-fat carbs (pretzels, bananas) that are served in many finish areas. Also, have a sports drink to replenish the electrolytes.
  3. Skip the hot tub; heat can cause muscle inflammation, which may fuel post-walk pain or soreness. Take a lukewarm bath to relax your muscles. Then, if you can, sneak in a nap. Avoid long walks for 7 to 10 days.

Race Day!
This is your final challenge before race day! You have two days off (Thursday's and Sunday's) to rest, and once a week cardio activity replaces your walk. Training tapers off as you get closer so your muscles can recover. Note: You won't walk the entire half marathon during training.

Tip: Click "Print" at the top of this page for a portable copy of the plan.

Week 41
Monday 4 miles in 1 hr. 10 min.
Tuesday 3 miles in 55 min.
Wednesday 5 miles in 1 hr. 25 min.
Friday Cardio activity for 50 min.
Saturday 7 miles in 2 hr. 15 min.
WEEKLY TOTAL: 19 miles
Week 42
Monday 5 miles in 1 hr. 25 min.
Tuesday 3 miles in 50 min.
Wednesday 5 ½ miles in 1 hr. 35 min.
Friday Cardio activity for 60 min.
Saturday 8 ½ miles in 2 hr. 30 min.
WEEKLY TOTAL: 22 miles
Week 43
Monday 5 ½ miles in 1 hr. 35 min.
Tuesday 3 miles in 50 min.
Wednesday 6 miles in 1 hr. 45 min.
Friday Cardio activity for 65 min.
Saturday 9 ½ miles in 2 hrs. 45 min.
WEEKLY TOTAL: 24 miles
Week 44
Monday 6 miles in 1 hr. 45 min.
Tuesday 3 miles in 45 min.
Wednesday 6 ½ miles in 1 hr. 55 min.
Friday Cardio activity for 60 min.
Saturday 10 miles in 2 hrs. 55 min.
WEEKLY TOTAL: 25 ½ miles
Week 45
Monday 4 miles in 1 hr. 10 min.
Tuesday 3 miles in 50 min.
Wednesday 5 miles in 1 hr. 25 min.
Friday Cardio activity for 70 min.
Saturday 9 miles in 2 hr. 35 min.
WEEKLY TOTAL: 21 miles
Week 46
Monday 6 miles in 1 hr. 45 min.
Tuesday 3 miles in 45 min.
Wednesday 7 miles in 2 hrs.
Friday Cardio activity for 60 min .
Saturday 11 miles in 3 hrs. 10 min .
WEEKLY TOTAL: 27 miles
Week 47
Monday 4 miles in 1 hr. 10 min.
Tuesday 2 miles in 45 min.
Wednesday 5 miles in 1 hr. 25 min.
Friday Cardio activity for 45 min.
Saturday 8 miles in 2 hrs. 20 min.
WEEKLY TOTAL: 19 miles
Week 48
Monday 3 miles in 55 min.
Tuesday 2 miles in 35 min.
Wednesday 5 miles in 1 hr. 50 min.
Friday Cardio activity for 30 min.
Saturday OFF
WEEKLY TOTAL: Race Day!

This article is excerpted from the November/December issue of Weight Watchers Magazine. Subscribe today to get great features like this one delivered right to your door!

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