The beauty of Power Walking is that you can do it anytime and anywhere. Whilst you may want to consider investing in a good pedometer and an all-weather jacket, the only essential equipment you will need is a good pair of walk-specific shoes suitable for Power Walking!
What is a walk-specific shoe?
Different sports place different demands on your feet and body, so just as you would buy football boots to play football, a walk-specific shoe is ideal for Power Walking.
Currently there is very little choice of Power Walking shoes in the UK, so by getting to know your feet, and by following this guide, you will be armed with enough information to find a shoe that is perfect for your feet and will get you through your training and to the Finish Line in comfort!
Good shoes and bad shoes.
A good shoe will tick all these boxes and we suggest that if a walk-specific shoe is not available, the next best choice is a cross training shoe, or a Nordic walking shoe.
Avoid walking boots or any ankle-height boots as they will not allow your ankle to flex and after 26 miles on pavement this will be extremely uncomfortable.
N.B. MBT’s and similar types of shaping shoes, whilst comfortable for general walking are not suitable for Power Walking and will cause shin splints.
Low heel profile
The angle of a Power Walker’s foot as it ‘pushes off’ is much greater than a runner. Consequently, look for a shoe with a low heel profile to avoid injuring your Achilles tendon – this area of the foot is incredibly delicate and needs to be protected.
If you pronate choose a shoe where the sole spreads out on the base of the heel. This makes it a little more difficult to roll onto the side of your heels.
A good sole
The sole, or last as it is technically called, is the foundation of the ideal shoe. It should be wide enough for your foot width, with a sole that is thicker under the ball of the foot and slightly raised in the heel. It is important that both these areas are both supportive and really flexible, as they take quite a pounding.
Feel the fabric
Look for shoes that are partly made of supportive fabric such as Gore-Tex or leather, that will not stretch or relax too easily. Any shoes made of mesh fabric, typically running shoes, are not supportive enough for Power Walking.
A good toe box
Essential for giving your toes good protection for Power Walking from the thousands of times you will be using them to ‘push off’, from the back foot. Make sure this area is rounded enough for your toes to lie flat and to avoid any rubbing that can cause blisters and deep enough so that they can wiggle easily. Be sure to allow a 1 – 2 finger width of space from the end of your longest toe to allow for your foot to slide forward and expand as you walk. Expect your walking shoes to be approximately 1 full size larger than your normal shoes.
Shoe buying tips!
- Buy Power Walking shoes at the end of the day when feet are at their largest.
- Allow enough time to try different ways of lacing your shoes as it can make a big difference to the fit. If there is a treadmill handy, put your shoes to the test!
- Always wear the socks that you intend to wear with your walking shoes, thin or thick socks can make a big difference to the final fit and size.
- Remember to replace your shoes every 500 miles or after one Marathon. At this point they tend to collapse (if you haven’t!).
- Before you go shopping, get to know your feet and make a few notes; are they narrow, or wide, do you have a slim heel, which is your longest toe, which is your largest foot? All this will help you to buy the best shoes for you.
- The secret of finding the ideal shoe is to be led by how they fit and not by the size. Remember that your normal shoe size will be approximately a full size smaller than your walking shoe!
… and then there’s socks
Thin socks, thick socks or double layer socks – it is only by trial and error that you find the ones that suit you. Once you have found the ideal pair be sure to wear them for training and on the day of your chosen challenge!
Never wear low cut socks or go barefoot, you will leave your feet prone to chafing, blisters and athlete’s foot.
Other training tips
- Find someone to walk with through our walking pals
- Training plans
- Why not get more help and advice by joining our forum
Previous postWalker Story: Steve Shares An Uplifitng Message!
Next PostWhat An Adventure – TCS New York City Marathon 2014!