How to Walk

Begin your new walking regimen


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Are you walking right? You may not have given much thought to that question until you started walking for your health, losing weight, or training for an event or trek. You can improve your form, so you walk with more energy, speed, and efficiency. And training plans can help guide you to your best results.

The Basics

Sit on a bench and watch people doing their daily walking workouts. You'll see a variety of styles, and in many cases, they aren't very efficient. Regardless of your goal, you need to walk with good posture, foot action, stride, and efficient arm motion—the four steps to a great walking technique.

Once you understand these basics, you can further look at your technique and habits and avoid the 10 most common walking mistakes. If you use a treadmill, you'll want to prevent treadmill walking mistakes.

Healthy Training Plans

Do you want to get started walking or simply build your speed? Here are the basic plans that will point you in the right direction:

  • Walking for Beginners: Start here if you haven't been exercising and you want to start walking. This plan will build up your walking time from zero to 30 minutes. Learn good form on your way to meeting the basic health recommendations for daily physical activity.
  • 30-Day Quick Start Walking Plan: Use this beginner plan for more structure. These plans are appropriate for those who need to walk to reduce their health risks and beginner walkers with a weight loss goal.
  • How to Walk Faster: Learn to walk faster using good form so you can reach the brisk walking pace recommended for the best reduction in health risks. Beyond the mechanics of an efficient stride, you can build speed with a fast walking workout schedule that boosts stamina and aerobic capacity.
  • Using Walking Poles: See how to use fitness walking poles to burn more calories at any speed. You can learn the Nordic walking pole technique, which requires poles that have an attached glove or strap, or you can learn the Exerstrider technique that can be used with any poles. If you're experienced with Nordic walking, you may want to train for a Nordic walking marathon.
  • Treadmill Walking Plan for Weight Loss: Use this plan to burn calories on the treadmill using a variety of workouts.

Races and Events

Which distance are you training to walk? Use a walking workout schedule to get you to the finish line in no time. Whether you are training for a shorter distance or a longer distance, building your walking time steadily is the key.

  • 5K Walk: This 3.1-mile distance is the most popular for charity and fun walks. It is an hour or less of walking.
  • 10K Walk: The 6.2-mile distance takes 90 minutes to two hours for most walkers. It's a popular distance for volkssport walking and walker-friendly fun runs.
  • Half Marathon Walk: The 13.1 mile (21 kilometers) half marathon is a great challenge for a walker. Many half marathons are walker-friendly if you can finish in four hours or less. You'll need three to four months to steadily build up your mileage and toughen your feet.
  • Marathon Walk: You don't have to run to reach the finish line of the 26.2-mile (42-kilometer) marathon. But you will need to spend five months or more training for it. You'll need special considerations for energy snacks, hydration, preventing blisters, shoes, and gear in addition to training time.
  • Racewalking: Olympic-style racewalking is a technique that results in hip rotation and very fast speeds. If you plan to learn to racewalk, finding a local coach who can ensure you have the proper technique is essential. Once you learn it, you can start winning local, judged racewalk races or simply start beating many runners at local fun runs.

Y​ou may start out thinking you'll never make it to the finish line of a long-distance event. But with consistent workouts that gradually increase your distance, you'll be amazed at how far you can go.

Multi-Day Walks and Treks

When you want to walk a long distance each day for two or more days, you will need to pay attention to preventing blisters and maintaining good hydration and nutrition. It is critical to spend time in advance training, so you toughen your feet, build endurance, and know what shoes and gear will work best.

  • Camino de Santiago: If you are going to walk the pilgrim route through Spain, it is critical that you prepare for the hills, long walking days of 13 miles or more, and carry a backpack. Use this training plan if you want to appreciate the journey and minimize any aggravation.
  • Hills and High Altitude: These two factors seem to go together to take your breath away. If you are planning a hike or trek up high, here is how to get ready.
  • Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure Walk: You will need to train to walk approximately 20 miles per day for three days and camp for two nights. Here is how to prepare.
  • Goofy, Dopey, and Other Marathon/Half Back-to-Back Race: Use this training plan to prepare for a back-to-back marathon and half marathon challenges.
  • Back-to-Back Half Marathon: Use this plan for events where you will be walking two or more half marathon days in a row.

Finding a Coach or Training Group

You can improve your walking form best by finding a coach to observe you and give you pointers. It's hard to see for yourself what you may be doing incorrectly.

Look for training groups at your local running stores, which often welcome walkers. Search local Meetup groups for walkers, and you may find some led by a walking coach. Try checking LinkedIn, or simply Google "walking coach," "racewalking coach," or "Nordic walking coach."

There are often local marathon and half marathon coaching and training groups available. They include lessons in technique and coaching. Even if you aren't planning to go the distance, these groups can be an excellent way to connect with a walking coach and buddies.

A Word From Verywell

You've taken the first step simply by looking for advice on how to walk better. Being more conscious of your posture and technique will help you enjoy your walking more and energize your workouts. You'll be prepared to join in fun walking events and start collecting finisher medals and race t-shirts in no time!

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. McGovern D. The Complete Guide to Marathon Walking. Echo Point Books & Media. 2016.

  2. Majed L, Heugas AM, Siegler LA. Changes in movement organization and control strategies when learning a biomechanically constrained gait pattern, racewalking: a PCA study. Exp Brain Res. 2017;(235)3:931–940. doi:10.1007/s00221-016-4853-8

  3. Williamson E. Nutritional implications for ultra-endurance walking and running events. Extrem Physiol Med. 2016;(5):13.  doi:10.1186/s13728-016-0054-0

By Wendy Bumgardner
Wendy Bumgardner is a freelance writer covering walking and other health and fitness topics and has competed in more than 1,000 walking events.