MANILA, Philippines — Move over biking. Step aside running. There’s a new health & fitness craze that would hit the nation.
Walking is a very different sport from running, let alone biking. For starters, the pace of the activity is much relaxed compared to the other two. Athletes can leisurely enjoy the view and take-in the fresh air that this sport brings.
The distance per event of competitive walking is much longer as well, with a minimum of 14 km called “Fun Walks” and a maximum of 60 km called “Extreme Fun Walks”. For an event to be considered a “Walkathon”, organizers are strict to point out that participants have to complete the whole 87.195 kilometers. “There is no such thing as a half or full marathon. Period.”
Most importantly, athletes are not permitted to run during walks, even if their muscles fall asleep; unlike running, where you are allowed to walk in between sprints.
As for the accessories and equipment, also known as “walking gear”, organizers have given us a list of things that are prerequisites when joining fun walks, extreme fun walks and walkathons. These includes:
- Walking shorts – A little bit longer than running shorts, but a little bit shorter than biking shorts. The garment is made from a combination of Dri-Fit and spandex made specifically for walking.
- Walking shirt or singlet – Tailor-made for walking, these scientifically designed clothing will lessen wind resistance when walking and improve aerodynamics in athletes engaged in this physically straining sport. Comes in a variety of colors for the fashion savvy walkers out there. Statement shirts are also available.
Music Player – Not just any music player, but the newly released and aptly named Sony Walkman that now plays digital music without a visual playlist display. Athletes can be able to take their time to scan for songs on-the-fly using the patented REW™ and FWD™ keys on the device. It comes with stereo earpiece that can be replaced by a much pricier one. Your iPod or Nomad would look ancient compared to the new Walkman.
- Walking Shoes – Did that purchase of a new pair of running shoes even hurt your wallet? Because now you have to buy a new pair just for walking. Top shoe manufacturers Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Mizuno & Puma already have new models in the pipeline with features like extra cushioning, lightweight “barely there” design, anti-blisters and more efficient air flow made only for walking.
- WGPS Watch – The Walking Global Positioning Satellite Watch from Casio, Garmin & Timex just to name a few, measures laps, speed, pace, time, distance, calories and heart rate of walkers that a GPS Watch for runners cannot do. It only needs to measure lap times down to the last second and not millisecond, due to the nature of the speed of walking. Casio’s WGPS watch even has a voice assisted guide that helps athletes determine whether they should already step with the right foot or the left foot after the last step. Imagine a military drill instructor yelling “left right left right” to his cadets.
- Ergonomic Hydration Bottles – Specifically designed containers so that athletes can grip them easily without feeling any discomfort whatsoever. It’s as if the bottle was molded from their own hands. It makes them concentrate on the leisurely walk and not on the bulge that other products makes in their pockets.
- Energy Gels – Loaded with carbohydrates that provide energy and promote recovery for walkers. The product is available in several different flavors such as Chicken Teriyaki, Sinigang na Bangus, Beef Salpicao, Sauteed Crab Roe (aligue), Yang Chow Fried Rice, Milk Tea, and plain.
- Umbrella (optional) – In case mother nature doesn’t cooperate during an event, a handy umbrella for athletes would be perfect to keep them dry and soak-free. Larger golf umbrellas could also be shared with other walkers in case of team walkathons.
- Walking Belts / Waist Packs – A place to store your car keys, coat & tie, identification, wallet, “malling shoes”, energy gels and fluids, umbrellas, denim pants and others.
Walkers can opt to use regular headbands, towels, socks, visors and shades that runners use. But according to manufacturers, if the demand for walking specific apparel rises, they may release said products for “elite walkers” in the near future.
Stay tuned for more info of upcoming events, including the Iron Legs Extreme Walkathon 2012, Earth Walk (similar to Earth Run) and the National Heroes Day Fun Walk. Be sure to look out for A Walk to Remember; a night walk featuring zombies trying to catch-up with participants in a snail-paced chase for human survival. Exciting stuff indeed!