How to Walk: Courses, Techniques, and Coaching

How to Walk

Are you walking right? You may not have given much thought to that question until you started walking for your health, weight loss, 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 who are doing their daily walking workout. You'll see a variety of styles, and in many cases, they aren't very efficient.

No matter what your goal is, 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 take a further look at your technique and habits and avoid the 10 most common walking mistakes. If you use a treadmill, you'll want to avoid these treadmill walking mistakes.

You can also learn to walk in different conditions.

Learn how to walk uphill or how to walk downhill. Learn how to enjoy (or simply better endure) walking in the rain, walking in cold weather, and walking in the heat.

Healthy Training Plans

Do you just 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. It 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. For more structure, use the 30-day quick start walking plan. These plans are appropriate for those who need to walk to reduce their health risks as well as beginner walkers with a weight loss goal.

Races and Events

Which distance are you training to walk? Use a walking workout schedule that will 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.

Y​ou may start out thinking you'll never make it. But with consistent workouts that gradually increase your distance, you'll be amazed at how far you can go.

  • 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 most walkers 90 minutes to two hours. 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 specific technique that results in hip rotation and very fast speeds. Here are the basics to understand how it is done. If you plan to learn to racewalk, it is important to find a local coach who can ensure you have the right technique. Once you learn it, you can start winning local, judged racewalk races or simply start beating many runners at local fun runs.

    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 carrying a backpack. If you want to appreciate the journey and minimize any aggravation, use this training plan.
    • Hills and High Altitude: These two factors seem to go together to literally take your breath away. If you are planning a hike or trek up high, here is how to get ready.
    • Avon 39 Walk: These walks offer either a half marathon for two days or a marathon the first day and a half marathon the second day. Plus, you camp overnight. Here are training schedules for each variation.
    • Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure Walk: You will need to train for walking approximately 20 miles per day for three days and camping two nights. Here is how to prepare.

    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 may welcome walkers. Also, search your local Meetup groups for walkers and you may find some led by a walking coach. LinkedIn is also a good place to search for a walking coach, racewalking coach, or Nordic walking coach.

    Marathon and Half Marathon Coaching and Training Groups: There are often local training groups available. They include lessons in technique and coaching. Even if you aren't planning to go the distance, these groups can be a good way to connect with a walking coach.

    A Word From Verywell

    You've taken the first step simply by looking for lessons 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!


    2008 physical activity guidelines for Americans: Be active, healthy, and happy. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services; December 11, 2008.

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