Power Walking Training for a 5K

Power Walking Training for a 5K

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Training for a 5K makes the event much easier and more enjoyable.

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Power walking a 5K, which equals 3.1 miles, may not be as strenuous as running one, but if you do not walk for fitness consistently, you need to train for such an event. Improperly executed power walking can cause sore feet, knees, hips and shoulders. A well-rounded training program conditions your body for the event, helping you improve your power walking form, technique and speed while enhancing your lung capacity for an extended period of aerobic exercise.

Proper Equipment

An effective 5K training regimen begins with the proper equipment. Comfortable shoes and lightweight, well-fitted clothing contribute to your success. Find athletic shoes that fit snugly and provide proper arch support. Without proper support, you run the risk of plantar fasciitis, shin splints and other related conditions. Wear reflective, well-fitted clothing. Well-fitted clothing streamlines your movements, and reflective gear helps keep you safe should you choose to walk at dawn, dusk or dark. If you cannot find reflective clothing, opt for colorful shirts, preferably neon, that are visible in the dark.

Program Length

With a 5K training program, you build endurance and strength to prepare you to walk an entire 5K in one hour or less without feeling exhausted or winded. Most effective 5K training programs range from seven to 10 weeks depending on your fitness level at the beginning of the program. Aim to train three to five times each week, starting with a 25- to 30-minute walking session and building to 50 minutes by the end of your training.

Session Length

Divide training sessions into easy, moderate and heavy intensities. Calculate your maximum heart rate to quantify each mode. Maximum heart rate is a calculation based on your age; to determine your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. An easy intensity session should keep your heart rate below 50 percent of your maximum heart rate and last for no more than 30 minutes. A moderate session should keep your heart rate within 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate and heavy sessions should fall within the 70 to 85 percent range. Moderate and heavy sessions should last from 45 minutes to one hour.

Session Content

At the beginning of each session, warm up with a slow walk for five minutes, shaking out the arms and legs. Pick up the pace for the appropriate amount of time based upon the session intensity mode, paying attention to form and posture. One or two weekly sessions should focus on cross training with other aerobic activities such as swimming, jogging or cycling to rest muscles you use in power walking while still expanding your lung capacity.

Tips and Tricks

With proper posture and form, you breathe more easily and move without pain. To attain proper walking posture, stand up straight, drawing your shoulder blades down your back and pulling your navel toward your spine. Do not lean forward or back, as leaning puts strain on the back. Keep your elbows close to your body to move as efficiently as possible. As with any training program, consult a doctor before beginning.