I believe that when you look good, you feel good, and during our weekend full of walking, every little bit of "feel good" helps! Courtesy my mom, here are some guidelines to help you choose comfortable apparel on the route and in training, followed by my own suggestions:
- Wear clothing that is comfortable and loose-fitting, allowing you to move.
- Dress in layers. Remove a layer as you warm up while walking, and put it back on if you feel cool.
- If you sweat while walking, consider investing in CoolMax or polypropylene shirts to wick the sweat away from the body.
- On cooler days, add an insulating layer of polar fleece or wool.
- Socks should be comfortable, and socks made from CoolMax or other high-tech fibers are preferable to cotton, as they prevent blisters by keeping the feet drier.
- A hat is essential!
- Sunglasses prevent UV exposure for your eyes.
- Wear sunscreen.
- Wear a hip pack or something with pockets for keys and the like. Pack lightly for most walks, and leave the heavy purse at home.
- Carry water if you plan to be walking for a half hour or more.
When considering exercise clothes for the trail, try a few different brands and styles. Different fabrics have different weights and wicking techniques, there are a lot of choices out there! Another thing to consider is the way your body changes throughout the weekend. After 24 hours of chugging water and Gatorade, I tend to get pretty bloated, so I always bring some loose-fitting tops for the second day of walking. I recommend ruched tops.Athleta has a great line of walking gear and even has accessories for women. Yes, I'm serious — I accessorize on the walk. Like I said, if you look good, you feel good! Try a fashion tank, lightweight wicking capri, and a headband.
With all this focus on fashion, you may wonder how to show your team pride. Many teams make shirts, hats, and backpacks to show their team spirit, but it's important to remember that everyone has their own idea of what's comfortable. I, for instance, wore a team tee-shirt my first year, and found it to be extremely heavy and sweaty! I was miserable. Now I save my team shirts for photo ops and fundraisers. On the trail, I wear exercise clothes and save my team logo for my backpack.
So shop around and try a few different styles until you find the one you're most comfortable in. With enough planning, you can look great while helping out a great cause!
Brooke is a member of the Blister Buddies and walks with her mom, Patty Thorpe. Brooke lives in southern New Hampshire with her husband and three daughters and is looking forward to her sixth Challenge Walk in 2010.