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Training for The West Highland Way
Who the Training Plan is For
We often get asked what is the best way to train for a West Highland Way Trek? Now, this will of course depend on your own personal fitness and experience level. Someone who is already a fit and experienced walker may need to do no training at all! So this guide is aimed more for people who haven’t completed a long distance trail before and are not regular walkers.
Whilst it is certainly true that we have had completely inexperienced walkers successfully complete the trek with us, it certainly gives you more chance and a more comfortable experience if you have put a bit of training in.
How Much to Train?
Always remember, something is better than nothing! So if you look at the training plan below and think that you don’t have the time or motivation to follow it, do not panic. Even if you just do a couple of weeks it is better than doing nothing at all. Always start on week one, or else you are more likely to injure yourself, and try to finish with week 12, so you are not too tired when you get to the start of the actual trail! So even if you only manage week 1 and 12 then something is better than nothing! If you manage week 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 12 you have done really well and if you have managed the whole lot then that really is a great effort indeed!
West Highland Way Training Plan
By gentle walking we mean walking at a pace whereby you could easily hold a conversation with someone. So if you are walking with a friend you should be able to have a chat with them without any problems. The brisk walking should be at a faster pace, so if you were talking to someone you could say a sentence or two but wouldn’t want to have a long conversation as you would be too out of breath.
On your shorter walks you might not wish to have a break, that is completely fine. However, you should aim to have one or two short breaks on the longer walks. These breaks should just be a 5 minute drink break or a quick snack. You should try to save going into the pub for lunch and a beer until after your walk!
Ups and Downs
We are talking up and down hill here, not motivation! We have deliberately not included flat or hilly routes into our training plan because it all depends on what your local terrain is like. Remember that the West Highland Way does have its fair share of hills, so if you have some hills local to you try to do some of your walking on them, but if not then do not worry, walking on the flat all the time is much better than not walking at all.
Test your Kit!
One of the most important things is to do as many of these walks as possible with the kit you intend to use for the actual trek. This includes your boots and your rucksack, ideally with about the same amount of weight in that you intend to use for the trek. If possible even use the same clothing you intend to do the trek in, even your socks! We have seen many people get blisters with their well worn in trusty boots…because they are using a new pair of socks!
Fitting all the above into a busy daily schedule can be challenging. Try to be a little bit inventive if you can be, for example if you need to go to the local shop for some bread then don’t take the car instead include this into your training plan. If possible walk to work or walk the kids to school.
Remember to be flexible with your training, you do not need to stick to it exactly as it is above. You can easily adapt it to fit in with your own lifestyle.
Walking with friends is a great way to keep motivated, but if this is not possible then there may be other ways to stay motivated. Treat yourself to a special dinner or dessert if you complete your long walk each week, you have burnt off the extra calories so you need it! Taking an MP3 can help keep you motivated whilst on the actual walk itself. Also, try to vary where you walk, walking the same route frequently can become boring. Just remember the more you do now the easier you will find the trek!
If you have started the training plan but for one reason or another you just simply cannot stick to it do not worry! We have had many people successfully complete the trek without any training at all! The training will just make the trek that bit easier for you, so just remember something (even just one walk) is better than nothing!
Speak to Your Doctor
Remember before beginning any new exercise regimen, especially if you are not used to regular exercise, it is important to consult your doctor.
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