It has been a week after my 50 mile walk. The outcome? I would not suggest doing this, at least not the way I did it. This “achievement” has basically stolen a week of my life.
I am not sure what to advise as a better way to do the 50 mile walk. Some level of training, beyond what I did running 5 days a week. Perhaps working up to it (while it seems very time consuming) by walking longer and longer distances, like one does during marathon training. I don’t know for sure but I did find this AFTER the fact – https://www.verywellfit.com/how-far-can-a-healthy-person-walk-3975556.
Watching adventure races and the Eco-Challenge type races, I marvel even more at how those competitors survive maintaining constant motion for several days. They typically mention a strong awareness of taking care of your feet. That is what caused the biggest problem for me, blisters on both feet. Again, an approach that involves building up the mileage would also toughen the feet. At least I didn’t make the rookie mistake of wearing new shoes. But even with broken in footwear, I wore a couple of blisters in my heal and toe that were the source of pain and discomfort.
Monday night after the 50 I played volleyball knowing I was probably going to make things worse. I did. It took the pain to a new level and sidelined me for the rest of the week. My normal running schedule was suspended. I limped along during the day and hoped that sleep and rest would speed my recovery.
What amazed me more was the psychology of it all. I felt like I was getting lazy. I stopped doing my daily stretching and even failed to log my food the last couple of days of the week (breaking a streak I had kept over a year). I could feel myself losing my drive to exercise and care about my diet. All because my feet hurt. It wasn’t even a serous injury but it turned off my drive. It made me question how delicate my will power actually is??
Walking 50 miles is not unheard of. In fact, I found an article showing it became a bit of a fad during the time of JFK (https://walkinghistory.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/the-50-mile-hike-phenomenon/). With the advancement in shoes alone I would think it would be much easier today. Robert Kennedy apparently did it in loafers! Obviously it wasn’t easy as the fad didn’t last too long, but normal people were doing it and with some decent times. (For the record, I beat Robert Kennedy’s time).
Luckily, after the week of laziness and gaining about 5 pounds, I feel like I am rebounding. I was back to running yesterday and my feet are feeling almost healed. I feel compelled to make up for lost time now and hopefully will snap back with more gusto than prior to the 50. My focus on nutrition and drive to keep up with my food and activity logging has returned. Perhaps rebounding after the break is a good thing, a little proof that I can rebound after being down (similar to my experience during walking the 50).
If anyone is considering doing their own long walk, I encourage you to do more homework than I did. There are ways to do it smarter and hopefully, without injury. I realize now a little more time in prep would probably have been well spent and prevented the loss of the week. I didn’t really feel fatigued and honestly believe if I could have avoided the blisters I would have kept on with my normal level of activity and healthy mindset. But it happened and as I said, I feel I am rebounding and “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.
Another link about the RFK 50 – https://www.kennedy50.org/about-2020