How much walking do we need to do to prepare for a walking vacation?
Posted on September 9, 2022

Patti and I got back from our two-week trip to England last Thursday. We walked a portion of the Norfolk Coast Path, which is northeast of London. I picked this national trail since it was easier than our other trips: I judged this was the smart thing to do after my major surgery in March. Still, I found that I was pretty darn tired after most days. I might blame my age (77) or my surgery, but I think the real reason is that I did not put in enough miles before the walk. This post is a reminder to myself: how do I need to prepare for our typical walking trips? You may find my guideline useful for an active vacation, even if you are just a siteseer in a major city.


The prime part of Norfolk Coast Path is very flat along a coast line: along dunes, seawalls and salt marshes, and desolate beaches. The bus transportation along for 45 miles was excellent. It was easy and inexpensive to where we started the day and back to where we were staying. I could easily divide the trail into more days that the trail book suggests as liesurely.



Patti and I used to walk more than 100 trail-miles on a two-week trip when we were younger. Now, I think 50 trail-miles is about right, coupled with a visit to a city. We’ve spent added days in Manchester, Liverpool, York, Norwich, and a number of time in London. When I add up the trail-miles and the city miles for this trip, my iPhone says we walked 86 miles in 14 days or a bit more than 6 miles a day.



We averaged over 7 miles per day on the trail. I found that I was very tired after most days. I definitely wanted to take a nap! I used to be able to walk myself into shape after getting to England, but now that I’m older, I need to be in better shape before the trip. My stamina is not what it used to be.


== Match the average before. Peak miles at least twice ==


My iPhone tells me that I steadily increased my average miles per day from my surgery on March 15, and that I averaged 3.8 miles for the first half of August. This was 2/3s of the average for the trail. My peak day before we left was 5.8 miles. All days but one were more than this. I conclude that I missed the mark on both counts.



Our next trip, in just a few weeks from now, is to France. We walk east of Bordeaux and in the Dordogne. That’s a self-guided trip we planned/booked for 2020, but obviously did not take then or again in 2021. I can lay out the trail miles to see what I have to do to prepare.



I set these two benchmarks to hit in the next few weeks: I need to walk three days of nine miles; I should target to walk a full week of the trail-miles. For this upcoming trip, I need to walk about nine miles three times. I need to walk a total of 40 miles in a week.


I picked Wednesday as my longest walk-day. I hit 9.2 miles in three separate walks this Wednesday. We have two more Wednesdays before we leave. I need to walk about 40 miles for at least one seven-day period – averaging about 5.7 miles/day – in the week before we leave.



Conclusion: Patti and I like active, walking vacations. We want to be able to do at least one of these trips every year. At age 77, I need to put more time ahead of our trips – walk enough miles before we go – to be sure I can complete all the planned walks and enjoy the rest of our time. Good targets for me are to walk the peak trail-miles three times before we go and at least match the total trail miles we plan for seven days.

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