Monday, 25 February 2013


Evening all! I'm afraid I haven't covered myself in glory this week. Here are the stats:

Distance (miles)
Time (hh:mm)
Energy (kcals)
Since last post (18 Feb 2013) 6.3 01:44 1071
Since records began (27 Dec 2012) 155.9 44:44 29189

I'd break down the difference against last week's 30 miles as follows:

[1] Work-related disruptions: -6 miles [Tue am/pm and Wed am]
[2] Pure laziness: -4 miles [Wed pm and Thu am]
[3] Weather-related disruptions: -13.7 miles [Fri pm, Sat, Sun, Mon am]

Categories [1] and [3] were somewhat out of my control, but I'm a bit disappointed with myself for category [2] - those 4 miles would at least have tipped me over the 10 mile mark.

'Snowpocalypse' isn't much of an exaggeration.

Saturday morning - view down our street as I prepare to excavate the car

Saturday morning - on our way to Tesco, with beautiful views of Prague Castle 

Sunday morning - about 2ft deep on our window ledge after a second night of heavy snow

Sunday morning - snow laying round about our terrace, deep and crisp and even
As you'll see from my posts over the last few weeks I'm quite prepared to walk around in the snow and in sub-zero temperatures, but not when I'm up to my shins in the stuff.

A lot of the weekend snow turned to slush overnight, so I gave it a miss again this morning. By the evening the worst of the slush had melted or been scraped to the kerbs, so I got back out. The forecast for the rest of the week looks more promising, so I'm hoping I'll have much better news to report next week.

Handling setbacks

Reading Paul Callow's blog it seems I'm not the only one struggling a bit this week. I like his point that realising our shortcomings can help spur us on to greater efforts. My relative failure in this last week will certainly be a strong motivator for me in the coming week.

Tony's comment to the effect that 'Spring is on the way' is both a heartening thought (better weather, lighter evenings) and a reminder that the Parish Walk is drawing closer: less than four months to go now!

Thanks for reading and have a good week!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

0 to 30 in 6 weeks

Evening all! This post is brought to you courtesy of the free WiFi at Prague and Warsaw airports and at Angelo Airporthotel Bucharest... and (in the fine tradition of Sesame Street) by the letters R and O and by the number 30 :) Here are the obligatory stats:

Distance (miles)
Time (hh:mm)
Energy (kcals)
Since last post (11 Feb 2013) 30.0 08:33 5394
Since records began (27 Dec 2012) 149.6 43:00 28118

I walked an improbably precise 30.00 miles this week: for consistency I'm only showing one decimal place in the table, but movescount actually shows it as 30.00 miles. It would have been just over 31 miles if I hadn't been called away during the day, thus missing out on my walk home this evening.

Excepting today, I've walked to and from work each day in the last week, including the extended morning route. We got quite a lot of snow last Tuesday and Wednesday, which has gradually been melting away in the days since, but even a pretty heavy snowfall on Wednesday morning wasn't enough to curb my enthusiasm. I think we can safely say that the walking habit has now been successfully ingrained!

I didn't do anything on Saturday, but covered just over 11 miles on Sunday, buoyed by some podcasts (following James Bassett's suggestion on a recent post, so thanks James!). Again, I forged a route through some parts of the city I'm not familiar with, setting myself a goal of reaching my original home in Prague, which is out on the edge of the city near the airport. In the absence of a walking partner (Mrs W was out shopping with a friend) I found that the combination of the podcasts and some unfamiliar territory made a fairly long walk (just over 3 hours) fly past.

Other training activities

I was interested to read in Tony McNally's latest post that he's including some running as part of his training. My dad also mentioned to me recently that he's considering doing some gym work this year as part of his preparation, having been convinced of the benefits by a past finisher. My current plan doesn't include anything except walks of varying lengths (and, hopefully, increasing pace), but, as Paul Callow mentions in his latest post, plans shouldn't be set in stone and can be revised as needed.

Clearly a mixed training plan isn't that uncommon, but my main concern in introducing jogging or running would be the higher impact (on joints and feet) and what I perceive as a greater chance of getting injured. I can certainly see that higher intensity exercise might help me to build my fitness faster, but I'm wary that the gain could be at the expense of potentially putting me out of commission for weeks or even months. Although I'm pretty ungainly I can just about avoid daft stuff like falling in ditches and tripping over paving stones at a walking pace, but I doubt I could do the same while jogging or running.

Am I being excessively paranoid and missing out on significant training benefits or should I trust my instincts?

Thanks for reading and have a good week!

P.S. Happy Birthday Ed! I hear from my spies that you got in an epic training walk at the weekend!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Battle of the bulge

Evening all! Here are my vital statistics for the week:

Distance (miles)
Time (hh:mm)
Energy (kcals)
Since last post (4 Feb 2013) 20.6 05:54 3312
Since records began (27 Dec 2012) 119.6 34:27 22724

No surprises that I broke through the 100 mile mark. I also managed to keep my weekly total above 20 miles (barely) for a second week despite a three-day hiatus while I broke the spirits of inspired our new recruits at a training course in the UK. I might have pushed 30 miles if I'd been at home.

We've had quite a bit of sunshine this week, which has kept temperatures down. Nevertheless, I did get out for six miles on both Saturday and Sunday, including a trip to nearby Karlštejn Castle. The pace was slow, as we were off the usual paved streets and paths and on to icy woodland tracks for part of the time. However, our stately pace did afford us a few good photo opportunities (pictures courtesy of Mrs W):

Karlštejn Castle from Karlštejn village
Karlštejn Castle from Karlštejn village

Woodland near Karlštejn Castle
Woodland near Karlštejn Castle
A long a winding road near Karlštejn Castle
A long and winding road near Karlštejn Castle

On weekdays I've found that it's rather difficult to build up the enthusiasm for a long walk home when it's dark, cold, and I've had a tiring day. Instead, I've extended my morning walks to about 3 miles; it enables me to get the targeted mileage under my belt while it's light and my motivation and energy levels are higher.

Weight loss while training: mission impossible?

In my first post I explained that one of my training goals was to get down to a target weight of 77kg (12st 2lb) by the day of the Parish Walk. Although I shed a lot of weight very rapidly on a zero/low-carb diet last year, I'm struggling to lose much at the moment. I'm currently hovering around 85kg (13st 5lb): down from my post-Christmas peak of 87kg (13st 9lb), but not by much.

I can think of two likely factors for my slow progress this time round:

  • I'm enforcing the low-carb principle rather less strictly this time around, which I justify to myself on the basis that I need carbohydrate to burn while I'm training (by contrast I was mainly sedentary this time last year).
  • My training will inevitably be building some muscle in my legs, so my net weight loss maybe lower.

I still think it will be helpful to bring down my weight so that there's less impact on my feet and joints during the race (and in the later stages of training, when I expect to be covering greater distances). To achieve that, my instinct is to gradually reduce my carbohydrate intake to a level which ensures a steadier weight loss, while not compromising my ability to train.

Is there anyone else out there that's struggled with this issue? I'd be interested to hear how you overcame it.

Thanks for reading and have a good week!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Don't Stop Me Now

Evening all! Here's the customary stats check:

Distance (miles)
Time (hh:mm)
Energy (kcals)
Since last post (28 Jan 2013) 23.5 06:35 3880
Since records began (27 Dec 2012) 99.1 28:33 19412

I've passed a few important markers this week:

  • I've now walked more than Parish Walk distance.
  • I've got more than 24 hours walking under my belt.
  • I've covered more than 20 miles in a week for the first time during my training.
  • I've covered more than 10 miles in a single walk for the first time during my training.

If I'd kept strictly to the plan I'd also have surpassed the 100 mile mark. As planned, I doubled the length of my daily morning walks last Friday and today, but didn't manage the same feat on either evening: those two extra miles would have made all the difference!

Unlike my previous abortive attempt at Parish Walk training (referred to in my first post) this time I managed 10 miles without any ill effects: not so much as a blister. Based on that highly scientific sample of two observations I've come to the startling conclusion that building up gradually is a better approach than going out all guns blazing. Who'd have thought it?

This week's 'epic' walk took me round an area of Prague that I've somehow managed never to visit in over six years living here: Vyšehrad. It's definitely somewhere I'll visit again during my training: a beautiful spot and perfect for walking, with lots of variation in surface, gradient and largely off-limits to traffic.

The Basilica of St Peter and St Paul, Vyšehrad, Prague
The Basilica of St Peter and St Paul, Vyšehrad, Prague

Viewpoint over the Vltava river from Vyšehrad, Prague
Viewpoint over the Vltava river from Vyšehrad, Prague

What will be on your playlist on 22 June?

After reading many of the other blogs it seems that the right music can play an important part in lifting you during the race. With that in mind I've started compiling a playlist. Thanks to Tony McNally's blog Dire Straits 'Walk of Life' was first on the list, and it's quickly grown to 34 tracks. It will continue to be a work in progress until shortly before the day.

You'll notice if you browse the list that there's a heavy Muse influence at the moment. We saw them on their recent arena tour and I've been playing them constantly since. If you get a chance to see them then grab it: they're a tremendous live act. They're playing a number of stadium gigs in the UK and around Europe this summer.

Have you got any track recommendations? I've got a pretty eclectic taste, so any suggestions are welcome!

Thanks for reading and have a good week!