Top tips for the Big Walk 2019

The Big Walk

Hundreds of staff and students are gearing up for this Friday’s Big Walk, walking, or in some cases running, 23 or 37 miles through the spectacular scenery of the Peak District.

This year our walkers are taking on the challenge to support Sheffield Scholarships, helping to ensure that more bright students from disadvantaged and low-income backgrounds have the opportunity to study here at Sheffield.

Find out how scholarships are changing lives

If you're feeling nervous in the run-up to the big day, you're not alone, but there's plenty you can do to prepare and ensure your walk goes as smoothly as possible.

We asked participants from previous Big Walks to share their top tips on how to make the most of the day. From practical suggestions to mood-boosting ideas, explore some Big Walk wisdom from the people who know what to expect.


Walking boots

Choose well-fitting footwear
“Choose suitable well-fitting footwear: boots that are right for the weather and a decent pair of socks. Lightweight boots and a pair of wicking socks of the right thickness for the boot and the weather (I prefer merino wool, but there are excellent bamboo and double layered socks out there too). Bear in mind that your feet will swell as you walk further so don’t be afraid to stop and re-adjust things.” Nicky Harold, spouse of alumni

Bring at least one extra pair of socks
“Avoid textured socks, eg sports socks as they increase friction and blistering. Thick walking socks cushion impact, but can also increase sweating (softening skin and increasing blistering). Thin technical socks are cooler and reduce friction, but also can lead to bruised nails as they offer less protection. Experiment and find what works best for conditions and pace.” George Credland, CiCS

Preparation and prevention
“To try and prevent blisters in the first place, Vaseline around your toes and heels is a good idea – carry one of those little Vaseline lip balm tins with you to reapply as needed.” Helen Wright, Faculty of Engineering

“KT tape or similar is much better than zinc oxide tape or Compeed (stretches with your feet, and sticks far better). Tape up the night before any areas of your feet likely to get blisters or sore. Also, you can go for really jazzy colours of tape.” Diana Maynard, Faculty of Engineering

“Stop and sort out blisters, grit in shoes etc rather than trying to make it to the next designated stop as any problems will only aggravate over time. Paracetamol can take the edge off pain and make the difference between coping or not.” George Credland, CiCS

Air your feet
"Whenever you stop for more than a couple of minutes, take your shoes/boots and socks off and give your feet a chance to air. This massively helps reduce swelling and cools the feet down, which not only makes them feel like new but reduces the chance of blisters and sore feet. The time taken to do this is worth the effort. Even better, stick them in a nice cold river!” Diana Maynard, Faculty of Engineering


Big Walk marshals refilling water bottle

Keep hydrated
“Water is so important whether your running or walking – seriously don't just rely on the marshal stations for all your water; carrying a 1–2 litre water bladder is best but at least take a small refillable water bottle to drink between stations and refill it at each marshal point.” Helen Wright, Faculty of Engineering

Bring energy-boosting snacks
“Take LOTS of snacks – savoury as well as sweet. And see if fellow walkers want to swap – you sometimes just fancy something different!” Amy Jones, Global Engagement

“Wine Gums or similar give a handy boost and are good for sharing if walking with others.” George Credland, CiCS

"A water bladder is fantastic as you can just have a drink whenever you like without having to stop and get a bottle out. Jelly Babies or Wine Gums in your pocket are a great quick energy boost." Abbie McGregor, Faculty of Arts and Humanities

The night before

Big Walkers

Shower the night before
“Shower the night before (not the morning) so your feet aren't soft – you're less likely to get blisters.” Amy Jones, Global Engagement

Take it easy
“Don’t put in long walks in the week before the main event as you could pick up blisters or strains and not have time to recover. Take it easy the day before as much as possible so that you’re well rested.” George Credland, CiCS

Prepare in advance
“Pack your bags days beforehand to ensure you have everything you need – don't leave it until the morning of the walk.” James Hill, Admissions Service

“Prepare for every weather condition: jacket, waterproofs, sun cream, sun hat etc.” Guy Fawcus, partner of staff member


Big Walkers

“A printed route card can be easier to read, though you can also save the PDF on a smartphone. The GPS trace is available on MapMyRun/Walk, but you can create a free account and export the GPX file into most mobile navigation applications. Take an external battery pack and charging cable if relying on using a mobile device all day for navigation as you don’t want to lose power and get stuck. The mobile phone is needed for emergency contact so best not to let it run down.” George Credland, CiCS

“Keep a steady pace throughout – don't run or march off right at the start, instead stick to a comfortable speed the whole way. Use your smart watch to monitor your heart rate – around 150bpm is a good level of exertion for endurance.” Helen Wright, Faculty of Engineering

“Talk to people or listen to podcasts to keep your mind on something other than walking. Finding someone who matches your pace can really help.” Guy Fawcus, partner of staff member

“When stopped try not to sit still. I gently flex leg muscles in the same rhythm as walking to avoid seizing up.” George Credland, CiCS

“Take in the views, they are always awesome in the Peaks whether it is raining or shining.” Tom Hemington, Estates and Facilities Management