Ultimate Walking Challenge: Part 4

Get moving with part four of Weight Watchers Magazine's Ultimate Walking Challenge.
Woman tying shoe

If you joined Weight Watchers Magazine's Ultimate Walking Challenge in January, you're more than halfway to your goal of walking a half-marathon!

Here, we provide another 8-week excuse-proof walking plan, designed by June Kahn, a Colorado-based walking educator.

Go the Distance
  • New to the Ultimate Walking Challenge? Get started with Part 1, Part 2 , Part 3, or read the final installment, Part 5
  • Get tips and motivation from others who are taking part in this challenge on our Walking Challenge message board.

When it comes to putting off your walking routine, we bet you've got no shortage of excuses: Maybe you can't find your sneakers, or the dog ate your iPod? When such negative pep rallies become a habit, they can chip away at the progress you've made and hold you back from your goal of walking a half-marathon.

Call in the reinforcements.
Excuses won't fly if you have a team of regular walking buddies you can count on to keep one another motivated and on the move. Here's how to start your own walking group:

Choose your target audience.
Once you decide what type of walker you want to include (beginners, moms with strollers, seniors), post flyers at local spots like the supermarket and the library. Announce a public meeting place and a meeting time.

Hold a meeting.
Decide how often you want to walk and plan a regular walking schedule (days and times), meeting place and route. At the end, get everyone's contact information.

Encourage feedback.
After one month, evaluate your progress. Ask members for new walking-route ideas or discuss a group goal, such as training for a charity walk. Choose a group name and plan an event, like a post-walk breakfast, for a motivating boost.

Plan ahead!
Forget about using the following excuses to slither out of your daily walk. Rethink these roadblocks with tips from Shirley Archer, author of The Walking Deck(Chronicle Books, 2005):

Instead of "I can't walk because I'm on vacation."
Think: "Vacations present new walking opportunities."
At a hotel? Ask the concierge for info on local hiking or walking paths, or visit the hotel's gym and log miles on the treadmill. Plan activities that involve walking with your family, such as hiking, sightseeing or a walking tour.

Instead of "I'm too busy with social events."
Think: "Walking can be a social event."
Sign up for a charity walk with friends and family, or walk to some social events if they're close enough. If you must drive, suggest an after-dinner stroll to walk off your meal.

Take it with you!
Whether you're at the beach or an airport, take a detour from your regular walking route without begging off your commitment. Here are some great ways to sneak in a stroll:

At the Airport
Before you travel, log on to airportgyms.com to see if there's a gym in the airport terminal that you can use to log some miles.

At a Baseball Stadium
Between innings, walk the steps to tone legs and glutes. Or, using the handrail for support, take the steps two at a time.

At the Beach
Walk on soft sand. You may burn 50 percent more calories than you'd burn walking on a firm surface, such as concrete.

In a Pool or Lake
Walking in the water takes pressure off joints, which means less soreness. You'll also be able to walk longer since you'll stay cooler.

Back Relaxer
As you increase your speed, your back may start to feel sore because you're pumping your arms faster. But don't use being sore as an excuse to put your walk on hold. Stretching postwalk will help prevent the aches.

Stretch It
With arms at sides, stand tall with feet hip-distance apart. Slowly drop head to right shoulder and bring hands behind your back. Use right hand to pull down on your left wrist until you feel the stretch in your upper back. Hold for 10 seconds; switch sides. Do 2 more sets.

Walking Planner: Weeks 25 to 32
You can kick the "I'm-bored" excuse to the curb with this interval walking routine. Once a week, swap a walk for a cardio activity (think swimming, biking or dance class) to build endurance. Twice a week, do an interval walk: Walk quickly for 2 minutes; then slow down your pace for 2 minutes. Repeat this sequence 5 times, then walk 20 minutes at a regular pace. Add 1 minute to the intervals each week. We've given you Wednesdays and Sundays off to rest. Quick tip: Use a stopwatch to make timing the intervals easier.

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

Week 25
Monday Interval Walk for 40 min.
Tuesday 4 miles in 1 hr. 20 min.
Thursday Interval walk for 40 min.
Friday Cardio activity for 30 min.
Saturday 5 miles in 1hr. 40 min.
WEEKLY TOTAL 11 1/2 miles

Week 26
Monday Interval walk for 50 min.
Tuesday 3 1/2 miles in 1 hr. 10 min.
Thursday Interval walk for 50 min..
Friday Cardio activity for 30 min.
Saturday 6 miles in 2 hr.
WEEKLY TOTAL 12 miles

Week 27
Monday Interval walk for 1 hr..
Tuesday 4 miles in 1 hr. 10 min.
Thursday Interval walk for 1 hr.
Friday Cardio activity for 40 min.
Saturday 6 1/2 miles in 2 hr.
WEEKLY TOTAL 13 1/2 miles

Week 28
Monday Interval walk for 1 hr. 10 min.
Tuesday 3 miles in 55 min..
Thursday Interval walk for 1 hr. 10 min..
Friday Cardio activity for 30 min
Saturday 4 miles in 1 hr. 10 min.
WEEKLY TOTAL 10 miles

Week 29
Monday Interval walk for 1 hr. 20 min.
Tuesday 3 1/2 miles in 1 hr. 5 min.
Thursday Interval walk for 1 hr. 20 min.
Friday Cardio activity for 35 min
Saturday 6 miles in 1 hr. 50 min.
WEEKLY TOTAL 13 miles

Week 30
Monday Interval walk for 1 hr. 30 min.
Tuesday 4 miles in 1 hr. 10 min.
Thursday Interval walk for 1 hr. 30 min.
Friday Cardio activity for 40 min..
Saturday 6 1/2 miles in 1 hr. 50 min.
WEEKLY TOTAL 14 1/2 miles

Week 31
Monday Interval walk for 1 hr. 40 min.
Tuesday 4 1/2 miles in 1 hr. 15 min.
Thursday Interval walk for 1 hr. 40 min.
Friday Cardio activity for 45 min.
Saturday 7 miles in 2 hr..
WEEKLY TOTAL 15 1/2 miles

Week 32
Monday Interval walk for 1 hr. 50 min.
Tuesday 3 1/2 miles in 1 hr.
Thursday Interval walk for 1 hr. 50 min.
Friday Cardio activity for 40 min.
Saturday 6 miles in 1 hr. 50 min..
WEEKLY TOTAL 14 miles

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

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