The Day I Did 50K

It has taken me a couple of days to get around to posting about this weekend’s walk/run adventure, and with good reason. I’m exhausted!

I knew before I set out on Sunday morning that this was going to be a tough one. I was still pretty tired from last Monday’s long walk and the weather forecast wasn’t looking too good, so I decided that I would break it down into four shorter walks and come home for some rest breaks in between.

Last Monday’s walk had been pretty tough on the old feet so I’d bought some pads to put on the balls of my feet in the hope that they might relieve the pressure a little bit. I also figured that if I reduced the time I spent on my feet by introducing some short running segments into the walk, that might help too.

So, at 8:12 am I headed out for the first leg of my adventure.

1st Leg: 11.85 Kilometres

It took a while for my Garmin to find a satellite at first, so I’d walked about half a kilometre before it started tracking, but that didn’t bother me too much. What did bother me though, was that I’d forgotten to charge it up again after my last walk so I wasn’t sure if it would last the distance. Still, with 50K to get through, I wasn’t about to postpone my start by going back to charge it up again, so I decided to just get on with it.

It usually takes me just under two hours to walk 10K, so I decided to see how much time I could save by running parts of the route. The plan for the first leg was to walk for four minutes and run for one. This worked quite well and I realised that, much as I enjoy being able to cover more distance by walking, I find running much more fun!

Round about the half way point, however, the heavens opened. I hadn’t taken my waterproof jacket as the sky had looked quite clear when I left and I’d hoped that meant it would stay dry for the morning. Clearly I had been wrong on that one.

Still, it didn’t put me off too much. I just put my hood up and kept going, pausing occasionally to wipe the rain from my glasses so that I could see the path in front of me.

In fact, to be honest, I kind of enjoyed running in the rain. The second half of the route included a downhill section along a short wooded trail that runs behind some houses. Although it became pretty muddy pretty quickly, it was a lot of fun splashing through the mud and skipping over puddles and the small stream of water that ran down the middle of it.

By the time I got home, I was pretty much drenched. According to my Garmin, I had covered 11.85 kilometres in 1:47. True, I had run a bit more than intended once it started raining, but I still felt like I had enough to complete the 50K, once I’d dried off of course!

2nd Leg: 12.31 Kilometres

I took quite a lengthy break after the first leg, partly to dry off and get changed, but mostly to recharge my Garmin. By 11:12 am, the sun was out, but I wasn’t going to be fooled this time and remembered to take my waterproof jacket with me.

This second leg went pretty much the same way as the first. I walked for four, ran for one, followed the same route and, when I got to half way, the heavens opened again. This time, my waterproof jacket kept me much dryer although by the time I got home I discovered that it wasn’t quite as waterproof as I had originally thought!

Still, I had managed to complete the section in 1:55, so I was feeling pretty good and ready to take on the second half of the distance.

3rd Leg: 15.84 Kilometres

Again, I took a fairly lengthy break, this time to have some lunch as well as to dry off and get changed, and headed out again at 2:12 pm.

I was feeling really good after a decent meal so decided that I would try to make this section a bit longer than the previous two. I followed the same route as before, but this time when I reached the half way point, I decided to do three loops of the field instead of just one.

Again, it rained, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I was getting closer to my 50K target and knew that the more I did in this section, the easier it would be to complete the final one.

By this point, I wasn’t really sticking to my walk four minutes, run one minute strategy, but instead would walk on the uphill sections and run on the downhill. This seemed to be working quite well until I reached the little trail behind the houses.

All the rain had made the trail very muddy and slippery and, even though I was trying to be careful, at one point I did get a bit carried away and lost my footing – not enough to fall in the mud, but enough to pull something in my leg.

Still, it wasn’t enough to stop me, and by the end of the third section I had completed 40K!

4th Leg: 10.58 Kilometres

With only 10 kilometres to go, I was keen to get back out so, after a much shorter break this time, I headed out at 5:14 pm.

My legs were feeling pretty tired by this point but I still made an effort to keep up my walk/run ratio where possible, even if the run part had become more of a jog.

Unlike in the previous three sections, this time it didn’t rain and I got to enjoy the whole route (minus a couple of laps of the park) in the evening sunshine before returning home to a nice hot bath.

Lessons Learned

Despite the feeling of complete and utter exhaustion, Sunday’s session has given me a lot of confidence in terms of my ability to complete the London to Brighton 100K Challenge. But most importantly, I have learned some valuable lessons:

1. Get some decent waterproofs – even if it looks like it’s going to be a nice day, the weather here is fairly unpredictable and it’s better t carry a bit of extra weight than get soaked part way through the course.

2. Enjoy the rest breaks – the London to Brighton Challenge isn’t a race (not for me at least) and taking breaks to rest and recover makes a big difference both physically and psychologically.

3. Use a walk/run ratio from the start – this means less time on the old feet, at the start at least, and it’s much easier to cut down on the running later than it is to start running after hours of walking.

4. Wear pads on the balls of the feet – this made a huge difference and my feet felt much better after Sunday’s 50K than they did after last Monday’s 43K

5. Watch your step – take care when walking or running on muddy or slippery surfaces. It’s too easy to pick up an injury!

That’s probably going to be my longest walk in terms of distance before the big day and, even though it’s only half of what I need to complete, I’m feeling pretty confident that I’ll be able to do it. Now I just need to practise some big hills, running at night and test out some new waterproofs!

As part of the London to Brighton Challenge, I’m raising money for The British Heart Foundation. If you have a couple of quid to spare and would like to sponsor me, please visit my JustGiving page and donate what you can – it all helps!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Walking With Confidence, Carbs and Cows

There’s less than five weeks to go until the London to Brighton Challenge and, I have to admit, the nerves are starting to kick in. This isn’t helped by the fact that some of the facebook groups that I follow can, at times, turn into a bit of a pissing contest about how many miles everyone has done each week.

Fortunately, when this happens, there are plenty of other group members who offer reassurance to those of us who are doing this for the first time and haven’t covered quite so many miles! And, to be fair, it does encourage me to get out and tackle those long walks at the weekend.

With this weekend extending into a Bank Holiday Monday, I took full advantage of the extra day off and headed out for my longest walk so far. A 43 kilometre walk from Hove to Shoreham then along the River Adur and back again.

43K April 2014

All in all, it took me between nine and a half to ten hours including rest breaks. I’m not sure of the exact time though as my Garmin battery only lasts for eight hours. But Monday’s walk wasn’t about time or pace. It was about testing things out and seeing how long I could go for.

One of my main concerns about taking on this challenge is making sure that I take in enough calories to keep me going. I heard somewhere that having a fatty breakfast before an endurance event like this can help as your body will use the fat in your bloodstream for energy, rather than relying on your carb stores. Of course, you are still going to be using up carbs and need to make sure you keep re-fuelling as you go, but a bit of fat will help you on your way too.

This doesn’t mean having a massive fried breakfast and there are plenty of healthy fatty foods that you can have, such as nuts, eggs and yoghurt. I opted for a bacon sandwich – not the healthiest option, I know, but I also know that my stomach can handle bacon sandwiches at 6:00 am so that was what I went for.

On the walk itself, I snacked on packets of crisps, some mini pork pies, a banana, a small packet of fruit and nuts and even packed some vegetarian sushi and a bottle of chocolate milk for lunch time. Basically, I had a mini banquet of carbs, fat and protein while walking along the river, but it really made a difference to my energy levels. And it may also be the reason that I made a few four legged friends along the way!

One of the best things about walking on this particular route was that everyone said hello as we passed each other, which was really nice. It’s funny how when we pass people in the street, even when we pass the same people every day in the town or city, we barely even make eye contact, yet out on a country walk  we smile and greet complete strangers as if they were our next door neighbours.

The other interesting thing about this walk was the wildlife and farm animals. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many different varieties of butterfly in one day and was surprised at how low to the ground they seem to fly. This concerned me a little bit as I was worried that I might step on one, but they soon flew up and off into the longer grass as I approached them.

The same, however, cannot be said for the cows. As I approached one particular stile that I needed to cross, I found myself face to face with a group of six very large cows hanging out right next to it. So, rather than running the risk of being eaten  by a cow, I decided to go round them by climbing over the fence instead.

I kind of liked the fact that the cows weren’t fenced in from the path, but up close they did look quite intimidating with their six sets of eyes following me the whole way as I climbed the fence and made my way back onto the path further along the field.

All in all though, it was a great way to spend the Bank Holiday and, by the end of the walk, I felt like I could have gone on for longer if it hadn’t been for the fact that my feet were throbbing like crazy. My shoes had served me well and I didn’t have any blisters, but my feet were starting to pay the price of nine hours or so of constant pressure.

Apparently the way to deal with this is to elevate them to stimulate the blood flow back into the legs so I went to bed that night with a couple of pillows under my feet and by the morning they felt fine – a little tired perhaps, but still pretty good all things considered.

So, with 43K done, I am feeling a bit more confident about the challenge. The next thing is to get some hill training in, but that will have to wait until next weekend.

Making Plans

It has been a very relaxing weekend so far. Apart from yesterday’s parkrun, I haven’t really done anything in the way of exercise, but now that I am upping my mileage for the London to Brighton Challenge, rest days are becoming increasingly important, especially if I want to avoid injury as the training itself becomes more and more challenging.

My main goal for the challenge has changed since I first signed up for it a few weeks ago. Having done a couple of long(-ish) walks, I realise that simply completing the course is going to be tough, never mind running it, or jogging it, or even finishing within a particular time frame. This year, I just want to be able to do it. Get from the start line to the finish in the best shape possible. And that means I need to start looking after my body during and between training sessions.

With only five weeks to go and having only walked about a third of the distance in one session, I’m starting to get a little bit nervous. So, today I planned a route which, although a lot flatter than the course itself, will take my distance up to between 45 and 50 kilometres.

I plan to start out by walking pretty much the same route as I walked on Friday, from Hove to Shoreham, and then take the path from Shoreham along the River Adur. The idea is to basically follow the path northwards until I get to about 15 miles and then turn around and head for home.

45K Plan

Although the route is far from hilly, the distance will be a challenge in itself. Unlike the actual event where we will be provided with meals or snacks every 12 kilometres or so, when it comes to training, I need to take enough food and drink in my backpack to keep myself fuelled and hydrated along the way. This does make the whole thing a little bit cumbersome, but I guess carrying a bit of extra weight in training won’t do any harm.

At the moment, I am still using my old back pack which tends to jiggle around a bit, especially if I attempt to jog, but hopefully that will be replaced next week when I get paid. There’s a lot of kit that I still need to get and try out before the big day, but I guess I’ll deal with that next week.

For now, I’m having an early night to get myself ready for tomorrow’s long walk. Here’s hoping for some fair weather and a fine day!

Kicking Off The Tour With A Birthday Party Parkrun | The Parkrun Tourist

Today marked the first day of my World Tour Of Parkrun and what an exciting day it was!

After launching this little blog last week, I spent many a few minutes on the parkrun website and chatting to people on Twitter to try to decide on the best event with which to kick off this wonderful world tour of running in the park at 9:00 am on a Saturday.

As this weekend is the Easter Bank Holiday, it seemed like the prefect opportunity to venture further afield than usual. With no work on Friday, I could easily jump on a train and head off to any location that took my fancy, stay over night in a cheap but comfortable hotel chain, and follow up my Saturday morning parkrun with a bit of sightseeing in one of the UKs many historical towns or cities.

To find out where I ended up. click the link below…

Kicking Off The Tour With A Birthday Party Parkrun | The Parkrun Tourist.

A Walk To The Beach

I had hoped to have a nice long run this morning, what with it being a Bank Holiday and all, but as often happens with this running lark, things didn’t quite go to plan!

After my mid-week run, I had been feeling pretty good, but on Wednesday when I was walking to work, I noticed a bit of a niggle in my left calf. It doesn’t feel like anything too serious, but I decided not to run for a few days, just to be on the safe side. I mean, the last thing I need with just over a month to go before the London to Brighton 100K Challenge is to get myself injured.

However, time is running out as far as my training is going, so instead of running this morning, I decided to go for a nice long walk to Shoreham. Ideally, my walking should involve hills, but with a niggly calf, the flat road seemed like a safer option.

It was a lovely morning for walking and, despite the fact that most of the route was along an industrial estate and the side of a main road, I really enjoyed it as I was still close to the sea.

Shoreham Power Station
Shoreham Power Station

I found the walk itself pretty easy, even with my cumbersome backpack (I really must get a new one soon), and it took me just under two hours to get to Shoreham. When I got there, I took a walk along the board walk and then ventured down onto the stones to give my legs a bit more of a workout.

Shoreham Beach
Shoreham Beach

In the end, I covered just over 20K and, while I felt I could have done a bit more, I didn’t want to aggravate whatever it is that’s going on with my calf. Besides, I need to be on good form for the start of my World Tour of Parkrun tomorrow!

What do you do when you feel a niggle coming on? Do you run through it, take some time off or find another way to train? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

A Nice Easy 10K

After all of the walking and walk/running over the last couple of weeks, it was nice to get back out on the seafront and just run for an hour. It still counted as a training run but, for once, I wasn’t bothered about my pace or distance. I just wanted to relax and enjoy a nice leisurely run with no stopping  and starting or clock watching.

One of the things that I am very bad at when it comes to training runs is sticking to the right pace. I tend to push myself a bit too much towards PBs, which usually leaves me feeling exhausted and unable to run for the next couple of days.

However, now that I am training for my first 100K, the whole concept of getting faster has gone out the window. Instead, I need to focus on getting time on my feet, which means more running and more walking and more days of training each week. In short, I need to go slower.

So, this evening I took things easy. I started my run before I reached the promenade because it didn’t matter if I had to slow down to pass other pedestrians or pause to cross the road; I didn’t worry when I started slowly or try to pull back when the pace picked up; in fact, I barely even looked at my watch the whole time I was out there.

And the result? I wasn’t out of breath when I finished, my legs didn’t ache when they stopped, and I’m not falling asleep as I write my post run blog post. Instead, I feel totally relaxed, content and confident about having another run later in the week.

As for the pace, which is still interesting even though it’s not important tonight, averaged out at 6:45 per kilometre. Not bad for a nice easy 10K!


The Blog Runner’s World Tour of Parkrun

For those of you who like a bit of variety, adventure and a good old run in the park on a Saturday morning, I have launched a new blog to record and share my latest running adventure: The Blog Runner’s World Tour of Parkrun!

Here’s a little sneaky preview!

Welcome to my new Parkrun Tourist blog, in which I bravely venture into the wonderful world of running in various parks across the UK at 9:00 am on Saturday mornings.

As a fairly recent convert to the running life, completing a 5K Parkrun was my first real running goal but, sadly, as my training has progressed over the last couple of months, I have found myself drifting away from the Saturday morning 5K running ritual to take on far greater distances, from 10K Road Races to a 100K Ultra-Marathon.

Apart from the fact that these longer runs leave me feeling completely knackered and wiped out, however, I do miss the fun and frivolity of the humble 5K. So, I have come up with a plan to get back to my Parkrunning roots (as it were) and take on a new challenge at the same time. I have decided to become a Parkrun Tourist!

The aim is fairly simple, at least in theory – to visit and run as many different Parkruns as I can get myself to for the next few months, or years, or however long I feel like doing it for.

So, if you fancy joining me on this little running, blogging, jogging adventure, please feel free to follow along and a leave comment to let me know you’ve dropped by.

And who knows? Maybe we’ll bump into each other on the start line sometime.

via The Parkrun Tourist | The Blog Runner’s World Tour of Parkrun.