Monday, 28 January 2013

Mercury rising

Evening all! There are no lies or damned lies in this blog, but here are the statistics:

Distance (miles)
Time (hh:mm)
Energy (kcals)
Since last post (21 Jan 2013) 14.2 03:57 2848
Since records began (27 Dec 2012) 75.6 21:59 15532

A less-than-glorious showing compared to last week. I missed three toings and froings, accounting for about 3 miles of the shortfall. I drove straight from the airport to work on Tuesday morning after returning from Vilnius [Strike 1], and I'd left my walking shoes at home, so I couldn't walk home that evening [Strike 2]. Mrs W's laptop conked out on Wednesday, so I had to collect some replacement parts for it on Thursday evening on my way home from work, requiring another car trip [Strike 3]. Partly unavoidable, but I'll give myself a 'must try harder' on my report card nevertheless.

More significantly, I didn't make it out on Saturday due to the extreme cold: it was hovering around -10 to -12C all day. Fortunately, things thawed dramatically overnight on Saturday, so I did an extended circuit of about 6 miles on Sunday. It's amazing how balmy 0C felt after two weeks of much lower temperatures!

January gives way to February this week. I'm not doing too badly against my original plan, but it's time to step up my efforts. I'll extend my daily walks from Friday, and aim to put in a couple of longer walks during the coming month.


One thing I've been pondering as I look at the statistics is pace. Here's a bubble chart showing average speed (y) against distance (x) for all my walks so far [bubble size represents duration].

Bubble chart of distance versus speed versus duration of walks to date
Barring a few anomalies most of my average speeds are between 3 and 4 mph, with most of the longer circuits around 3.5 mph. If I could sustain 3.5 mph for 24 hours then I wouldn't quite make it round the course (84 miles to be exact); if I could manage a 4 mph average I'd get round in a very respectable 21h15m. That extra 0.5 mph makes a big difference over such a long course.

At the moment 4 mph seems pretty quick to me, but I suppose it may start feeling more sustainable as the months (and miles) roll by. Soberingly, the Top 20 finishers last year all made it round in less than 18h: an average speed of over 4.7 mph. I occasionally reach the heady heights of 4.5 mph on my short walks, but that's typically downhill with a following breeze :) I certainly can't imagine holding that kind of pace over a long race.

A question to experienced Parish Walkers who have kept fast paces in past years: how did you build your pace? Is it something you can only achieve by cultivating a proper race walking form?

Local news

The big news here this week was the presidential election; the first direct election for the post. Sadly, the Czechs had a choice between 'bad' and 'worse'... and in my humble opinion chose 'worse'. Still, President-elect Zeman has some act to follow if he is to fall short of the incumbent: all-round scumbag and notorious pen thief (see video clip below) Vaclav Klaus.

Thanks for reading and have a good week!


  1. For me, pace came in fits and starts over a long period. I would be walking at 4mph for a while and then suddenly I was doing 4.25. That stuck for a few months then I was doing 4.4 etc. Now I can maintain 5.5mph for extended periods and I am certainly NOT a race-walker. Presumably it is quite a lot harder in snow and ice but try to bend your arms as you walk. They are a pendulum and, if you leave them hanging down and loose, they will slow you down. But don't worry too much for now. Fitness and miles in the legs are far more important in Jan/Feb than pace.

  2. Would agree with James in the main and to be honest it is only a few right up at the top who are really using racewalking in such a long race.

    I put out a message on 'Racewalkers all over the world' the facebook group to see if there was anyone near you but haven't heard back as yet.

    Walking with racewalkers would get you fitter and faster, hopefully without picking up too many bad habits.

    Remember none of the current top five fastest PW walkers had any background in athletics (unless you count me as school xc champion 34 years ago or Vinny in an 80s Marathon) so anything is possible.

  3. James - thanks for the info and advice. Chris at Up and Running also mentioned that driving with your arms can be a big help.

    Michael - I'm sure there must be some racewalkers in a city this size, but I can't recall seeing any out and about. It is to my shame that I'm still basically hopeless at the Czech language, which does constrain me a bit in finding/joining local interest groups.

    My question regarding pace was really more out of curiosity than anything. At a first timer, my goal is to get as far as I can; I'd be ecstatically happy with a finish at any pace.