Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How do you prepare for the 3day? I'll tell you ;)

I have been asked a few times about the Breast Cancer 3day walk, and my experiences with it.  After typing out several emails that contained similar information, I decided to compile them and post it here on my blog to share with the rest of the world ;)  I hope it helps someone!

First and foremost, my first suggestion would be to commit wholeheartedly to this cause.  It has changed my life, and I have enjoyed it so much!  Fundraising and walking all those training miles is hard work, and takes a lot of time.  I talk about it constantly and it suprises me how many people have never heard of this event.  Also, during the peak of my training leading up the event, I walk about 20+ hours a week, so make sure you plan for the time.

Attend one of the clinics or Get Started Meetings that are listed on the 3day site, and get to training as soon as possible.  A good pair of shoes is a must, as are the right socks.  I have worn cotton socks my entire life, and thought socks are socks, right?  Wrong!  They made all the difference for me.  In the 700+ miles I have walked I have never had one single blister.  I went to a store here locally called Fairhaven Runners and Walkers and they are amazing.  I had never given much thought to shoes before other than making sure they fit in the 5 minutes or less I tried them on.  Well, these people made sure they fit my feet and my arch and how I walk, etc...  I spent probably an hour and a half in there. They had me take off my shoes and socks and walk on the floor barefoot to see how my foot touched the ground.  I must have tried on at least a dozen pairs, which they expertly laced up for me and then had me walk around the block.  Yes, around the block!  In EACH pair.  When I had it narrowed down to 2 pairs, I put one on each foot and walked around the block again.  That's how I found the best pair of shoes in the world. No, scratch that, in the universe!  I got a pair of Asics, and have almost worn through my 2nd pair.  I will be buying my 3rd pair very soon ;)  The secret I think, is that these have plenty of wiggle room for my toes, and are a 1/2 size bigger than I normally wear, which suprised me.

Try to vary your walking as much as possible. The route is a combination of sidewalks, paved roads, and trails, so make sure that is what you train on. Switch it up and don't walk the same places all the time. Also, I would have a goal of training miles to get in before the event. My first walk, I did 300 miles, and I was shooting for 500 this last time, but got to about 450. I am shooting for 500 again this year!

If you have never done a 3day before, plan on going to the Expo.  It is a 10 mile walk in the same city as the main event, but not the same route.  There is a check-in and a few cheering sections, and a pit stop too.  The date isn't up on the website yet, but it is usually 2-3 months prior to the event in our city.  They are a lot of fun, and there are some more clinics afterwards, and of course lots of places to shop for pink gear, check out the tents, find out what to pack, etc. 

It is amazing how different walking 6, 7, or even 8 miles is compared to 10!  Around 10-12 miles is when you start to feel the spots where your shoes or clothes rub, your muscles get tired and you get a few aches. The first time I walked 10 miles I thought I was going to die, and it was a real eye-opener for me.  And I had been training already for 4 months!   The one big mistake we made was walking at the Expo and then going to a restaurant and having lunch with my team...  Where we sat for over an hour and then could barely stand up when it was time to leave, lol.  Yikes. 

What did I learn from that?  One word, STRETCH.  If you think you are stretching enough, you're probaby not.  The 3day website recommends 5 minutes per walking hour of stretching.  If it takes you 10-12 hours each day over the course of the 3day event to walk, that means 2 1/2 to 3 hours of just stretching!

Also, plan for the weather.  I have been fortunate enough to have had the most amazing weather for my first two 3day walks, but I am sure that won't always be the case.  Wherever you live, train in all kinds of weather.  Train when it's hot, when it's cold, and when it's raining.  There is no better teacher for what you might need to bring along than experience ;)

Ok, enough about training for now, how about what to wear?  There is a reason manufacturers make excercise clothes, so try out a few.  Remember what I said about cotton socks?  Well, it applies to clothes also.  The reason to not wear cotton is because it absorbs moisture and then holds it against your skin.  This causes friction, which in turn causes blisters.  This isn't just a problem for your feet!  If you are wearing cotton, after 10-12+ hours of walking in these clothes, you will most likely sweat a bit, and this can make your clothes rub.  It can rub along your neck, under your arms, your legs, and that's not fun.  Buy multiples of the clothes/shoes you plan on wearing, and train in them. Wearing something for a few hours here and there is so much different than walking for 12+ hours three days in a row! This includes shirts, pants, sports bras, socks, and whatever you plan on carrying. I made the mistake of wearing a new sports bra for the first time, my first walk, ouch!

I found that I love the pants by the  C9 Champion brand at Target.  It is a cotton/synthetic blend, moisture-wicking fabric that keeps your skin dry and is oh so comfortable!  Plus it is easy to find, and affordable ;)  They also make bras, tops and socks.

I LOVE this Enell sports bra!  It is spendy, but so worth it, and I am still using the one I bought last year.  However, if you can buy it locally I would.  The fit is very pecise and the sizing on the website was not the size I needed when I went to the store.  This is the one I didn't wear until the first day of my 2008 3day and it was NOT pretty.  This bra is made for high-impact and is very sturdy, so your girls won't be going anywhere!  But because of that, it is very tight fitting and needs to be broken in and worn in small increments at first.

And socks...  So important!  I found that the pair I got with my first pair of shoes at Fairhaven Runner are my favorite.  They are made by Wigwam, and they were $10 a pair.  I only bought one pair, because I just simply couldn't justify buying 6 pairs of them. But they pretty great socks!

This is the kind I got..  I haven't shown pics of anything else, but I felt this deserved a little more in depth description, and why I think they are amazing. 

See the part on top, that kind of looks like mesh?  This part of the sock grips your foot around the middle, but leaves your toes looser.  Remember the wiggle room I metioned in my shoes?  The same applies to the socks ;)  I have always stayed away from quarter and crew socks because they had a tendency to slip down inside my shoes and that drove me crazy.  These don't do that because of that part that grips in the middle, love it.

Well, since I only have one pair of these, I tried out a bunch of other pairs.  Some were too thick or thin, or too loose or too low, or some would wear out very quickly.  I finally found that my favorite are the No Nonsense brand, and at Walmart they are about $6 for 3 pairs.  They look very similar to the ones above, except they say "No Nonsense" in gold lettering on the bottom.  I like them so much that I even bought the black ones to wear at work!

Ok, moving on... How are you going to carry your gear??

Figure out early what type of backpack/waist pack, etc., you are going to use, and wear it for all of your walking, FULLY LOADED. Water and all the other goodies you carry aren't heavy, but they make a difference if you're not used to the extra weight. I used a cheap WalMart waist pack the first two walks, and they were ok. I splurged this last year half way through on the end of day 2, because my WM one broke. I had to call a friend to pick me up from camp to take me shopping!  I got a nice one from REI and LOVE it, though it was $80 instead of $10 ;) It was so much more functional and comfy and will last me forever.

What to pack??  You are only allowed 35 lbs, and in one bag. That includes shoes (yep, two pairs), clothes, toiletries, pillow, sleeping bags, everything.  35 pounds sounds like a lot, but you have a lot of stuff to pack, so make it count!

After reading these articles, 




I came up with a combination of what to pack from all of them that worked for me.

This is what I packed in my waist pack and carried with me everywhere:

water bottles
I.D.,  cash, debit/credit card, insurance info
rain poncho
hat or visor
hand sanitizer and lotion
band aids
cell phone (has to be off and can only be used at pit stops, lunch, or camp.)
nail file
sun block (I brought two kinds, one in a tube and one in a spray)
foot powder
hair ties
light jacket
spare socks (in small zip lock bags so when I change them I have a place to put the dirty ones in!)
tiny flashlight (to find the port-a-potties in the middle of the night!)
camera and spare batteries
small package of baby wipes

As for the rest of my gear, here is what I packed and how...

In large zippered bags labeled "Day 1", "Day 2" and "Day 3", this way I can just grab the bag and out of my suitcase and go, no need to dig around!

one each: 

shower bag: 
shampoo and conditioner
toothbrush and toothpaste
hair ties
plastic bags for worn clothes
flip-flops for the showers

the rest: 
some type of air matress and pump if you need one
sleeping bag
flashlight or head lamp (silly I know, but have you ever tried to go to the bathroom in a port-a-potty and hold a flashlight at the same time??)
plastic shower curtain (to put inside your tent under your belongings to stay dry!)
lounge clothes for camp, after walking but before bedtime.

I was able to rent both a sleeping bag and mat at REI that pack down very small and were pretty comfortable.  I would never have been able to squeeze a standard sleeping bag into my bag along with everything else.

Phew...  I didn't mean to write so much, but I just kept thinking of more and more things!  All of these little things add up, and can really make or break your 3day experience.  The walking is so much easier if you are prepared and have what you need to finish the job ;)

Happy trails and only 221 days to go!



  1. Thank you so much for the insight. I will be doing my first walk in October and am as nervous as I am excited. These types of blogs are so helpful. I had a million questions about what to pack.

  2. Thanks for the insight. I am doing the walk for the second time this yr-Seattle. Last yr was my first yr walking and I am hooked! I also live in Bellingham. We should try to meet up and train together. Shannon-cjmommy2@hotmail.com

  3. Really helpful Shasta, Thank You!

  4. Shasta, you did a fantastic job explaining things. I'm participating in the Twin Cities walk this year. My last walk was in 2005 in Michigan. Your website is also outstanding!!!
    Keep on walking!!!

  5. Thank you so much for the inspiration. This will be my first walk in August in Chicago. I start my training next week and I am nervous, but very excited. Thanks for all of the good information on everything!! Sherry Steffen

  6. Spot on! This will be my 6th walk. I can say on average it takes about 6 to 7 hours to walk. That well put you about middle of the pack. So yes train train train and add in some core training along with cross training. Your back will thank you. Be sure to drink and eat while you are walking . Mary DFW No Walker Left Behind

  7. Awesome list...being an experienced distance walker, backpacker, ruck marcher (whatever you call it) I also found these items are essential (especially if you are prone to blisters or your feet get wet). This year will be my second 3-Day...I'm hooked on it for my sister, doing the DC one this year

    In my portable first aid pack along with the bandaids, Ibuprofen, nail clipper..I also carry a small scissor, moleskin, and emory board. For me a Camel back with extra room is more comfortable than a waist pack (put's pressure on my hip bone, causing numbness on the outside of my thigh). So the camel back works best for me.....train with it NO MATTER the distance you're walking. I train with more weight than I will carry in the walk (more weight for shorter distance/less weight for longer distance) But stick to it....

  8. I live in Spokane and want to walk in Seattle in Sept. I am a 25 year breast cancer survivor. Is there a group in north Spokane that I can join?


  9. Hi Shasta!

    My daughter and her best friend are planning to walk in Denver in August. I am going through chemo now for stage 4 breast cancer and I am hoping to be able to walk, at the very least be a part of the cheering squad. Thank you for this great blog. It has taught us a lot!

  10. Shasta! Thanks for all the great tips. I'm a first time walker and looking forward to joining all of the 'walkers' in November! San Diego... here we come! Fantastic information... thanks again! - Marla Virgin

  11. Great input. I did the 3 day in Seattle last year and doing San Diego this year. Only one thing I did different and even have same socks. Instead of a flash light, an REI headlamp worked great. Kept my hands free and was easy to get around and they have multiple light settings for different circumstances. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  12. WOW!!! This is a whole lotta info. THANK YOU. I am walking for the first time in Philly. I will be sure to make note of all these fabulous tips you have to offer.

  13. Wow! Thanks so much, I had no idea so much thought needed to go into packing! I am doing the Seattle walk for the first time this year and I am very excited. Our team is called "Treasured Chests" I hope to get to meet you!

  14. This so wonderful of you to post. I find it so very helpful, this is my first walk in Oct. in San Francisco and I'm very excited about it. Trying to get a handle on everything and this helps so much.

    God bless you .....


  15. This is Great...thank you so much Shasta! I'm in NY but will be walking with my daughter in Atlanta in Oct. A three year survivor and at 67 I need all the help I can get with this incredible journey! Big hug for you!!!

  16. I'm super motivated. This is my first time doing the event. I'm live just up the road from Fairhaven Runners and love that store. Thanks for all the great advice

  17. Hey! I saw this on www.craftgossip.com today and it made me think of you! I know how much all this means to you. http://knitting.craftgossip.com/knitted-knockers-coming-to-your-area/2010/02/16/