Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Summertime and the livin' is easy

Good evening from Budapest at the end of a fairly light week:

Distance (miles)
Time (hh:mm)
Energy (kcals)
Since last post (15 Apr 2013)
Since records began (27 Dec 2012)

Recuperation from the knee pain caused by last weekend's long excursion lasted until Wednesday, and I missed a couple of planned sessions thereafter due to work-related activities. I've also been breaking in my new 'clone shoes' which arrived in the post on Thursday, so I've been keeping my walks fairly short.

Today has been by far my best of the week in terms of distance. My hotel is close to our office, so I was able to walk the 2 miles each way. This evening I walked a 6 mile circuit around Margaret Island: a largely carless haven in the middle of the Danube, criss-crossed by lots of decent paths. It's a popular spot for runners: there was still a steady stream crossing the bridge to the Island even as I was heading back to the hotel at about 9pm.

Apparently 'the powers that be' have decided to cancel spring this year; in the course of a little more than a week the weather has shifted from unseasonably cold to unseasonably warm. If only it stayed like this and didn't get any hotter I'd be very happy: for me, 20C is just about perfect for walking. Being able to get out in light gear really makes a difference.

The kitting out continues

Aside from the arrival of my shoes, I've also been looking at other aspects of my kit this week.

I didn't have much luck with socks: most of what I found on offer in Prague was overpriced and underwhelming. The outdoor shops were mainly offering really thick hiking socks and the general sports shops were stocking 'big name' sports brands, where you're paying more for the name than for the quality. I opted to try a pair of Thurlo socks, which looked a little more promising. Not bad, but the dual layer Hillys I got back in December are still the winners so far. I might refer to my old friend The Internet to see if I can find a supplier that stocks Hilly's and is willing to ship them so I can try out a few of their other styles ; especially the Monos that Michael George recommend in response to an earlier post.

I had a rather better find for shirts and shorts. With the arrival of warmer weather I've been on the lookout for something lightweight. After a while browsing I settled on some Columbia stuff. I've yet to see how they'll perform on longer walks, but so far so good: they're incredibly comfortable.

And finally...

... well done to everyone who completed the Sara Killey Memorial Walk last weekend, and congratulations to Michael George for another great win!

Congratulations also to all the Manxies who took part in the London Marathon, especially to my cousin, Paul Sykes, who not only finished in 3h14m but managed to get a photo with last years' winner and the reigning majors champion. Nicely done! :)

Paul Sykes with 2012 winner Wilson Kipsang and World Majors Marathon Champion Geoffrey Mutai.
Posted by Murray Lambden at manxatheltics.com

Thanks for reading and have a good week!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Failing to prepare...

Evening all! The modest increase in distance this week belies a fairly substantial achievement:

Distance (miles)
Time (hh:mm)
Energy (kcals)
Since last post (8 Apr 2013) 35.1 10:15 5467
Since records began (27 Dec 2012) 331.2 93:25 58143

My shorter walks were sporadic this week due to work-related distractions, but I managed to cover 26.5 miles during a single walk on Saturday: over 60% further than my previous longest training walk and slightly more than marathon distance. Here's the trace of my route from the city centre out to the tourist town of Karlstejn, from where I caught a train home.

Yellow line is my route, blue outline is city limit, green outline is district boundary
I followed the river down and out of the city to the south-west where I joined a network of cycle paths, which made for a rather pleasant journey mostly away from the main roads. However, the day was not without incident.

About 20 miles into the trip the balls of my feet started to burn and, in an example of excellent preparation, I had neither a change of socks nor blister pads with me. Not to be deterred, I hobbled on. Clearly the hobbling did nothing for good walking form and, about a mile from the railway station, my right knee seized up too! My problems over the last 5 miles brought my average pace down from nearly 4 mph to an overall average of just over 3.5 mph.

What have I learned?

  • It's difficult to predict how your equipment will perform or how your body will react over longer distances until you try it. Don't leave it until the Parish Walk to find out. I'll definitely be attempting a few more walks of the same length between now and early June (but probably no longer than that).
  • Being prepared is critical: I should have anticipated the possibility of blisters forming and brought some supplies with me that could have helped better control the situation: I had plenty of spare socks and Compeed plasters, but they weren't much use to me sitting in a drawer at home.

My feet were actually fine on Sunday, but my knee was still very painful. I kept it rested on Saturday evening and all day on Sunday, applying the recommended RICE principles (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Thankfully it was much improved by this morning, and loosened up further during the day. I'm hoping to get back out for some short, gentle walks by midweek, but for a while I was pretty worried that I might have done myself some Parish-threatening damage.

Walk Talk 2013

I saw that Murray has posted some edited highlights of the Walk Talk on YouTube here. It includes a lot of good advice and interesting insights from some very experienced walkers and coaches, so it's well worth checking out.

Were you at the Walk Talk? What were the main points that you took from the event?

Thanks for reading and have a good week!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Knowledge is power

Evening all! I'm back on form:

Distance (miles)
Time (hh:mm)
Energy (kcals)
Since last post (2 Apr 2013) 31.6 08:48 5318
Since records began (27 Dec 2012) 296.1 83:10 52676

I was surprised at how out of condition I got after just a week of illness: I was huffing and puffing for the first few days, and it took me until the weekend to really get back into the swing of things.

Uncharacteristically, I was raring to go by 8am on Sunday morning. I covered 11 miles at an improbably precise 4.00 mile per hour pace: if I can keep that up for 85 miles in June I'll be very happy! I covered another 6.5 miles with Mrs W on Sunday afternoon, making it the most miles in a day of my training so far.

The temperatures are gradually working their way up towards seasonal averages. Based on the long-range forecast, next Sunday looks like a good candidate for my first 20 mile walk of the year: from home to the nearby Karlstejn Castle. If I manage that then I should be able to report 40 miles for the week next Monday.


After a bit of research I found a good deal on Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12 shoes from a UK company willing to ship overseas: half the price of the only Brooks stockist I found locally. Fingers crossed that they emerge from the Czech postal system relatively quickly and unscathed otherwise it may prove to be a false economy.

Walk Talk

The annual Walk Talk takes place tomorrow (Tuesday 9 April) at the Manx Museum: 17:30 for a 17:45 start. It's a great opportunity to get advice regarding your preparations for the event from people who (unlike me) know what they're talking about, including last year's joint winners (and record holders) Richard Gerrard and Vinny Lynch. I'm hoping that, as in prior years, Murray will post videos to the Parish Walk website: handy for those unable to make it in person.

Up & Running Events

I also received an email newsletter from Up & Running at the weekend which might be of interest.

They're holding some free Parish-related information evenings in conjunction with Robin Perrie of The Foot Health Clinic and Isla Scott of Scott Physiotherapy. The information evenings are planned to take place at 18:00 on 9 April and 7 May at the Foot Health Clinic and on 24 April at Up & Running. Places are limited, so contact upandrunning@manx.net if you'd like to book a place.

Also, Chris from Up & Running will be holding some training evenings focusing on walking technique. The training walks will last about one hour: meeting at the shop at 17:30 for an 18:00 start. The training evenings are planned for 10 April, 22 April, and 1 May. Again, please contact Up & Running if you're interested in joining.

Thanks for reading and have a good week!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Evening all! In the improbable event that you're waiting on tenterhooks for the resolution of my midweek dilemma (whether to resume training or not after a bout of man flu) my stats tell the story:

Distance (miles)
Time (hh:mm)
Energy (kcals)
Since last post (27 Mar 2013) 2.2 00:45* 500*
Since records began (27 Dec 2012) 264.5 74:21 47358

I felt worse again on Thursday morning, so I stayed at home for another day. On Friday I went into the office by tram, and the 2.2 miles represents my walk home that evening after a few drinks with my colleagues... mainly because public transport is pretty sparse that time of night, and I hate taking taxis.

Today is the first day I've been really keyed up to get out again, but the fates were against us: when we got to our chosen spot (a nature reserve at the edge of the city) a snow flurry had started. The first snow of winter was on 27 October 2012, so we're now into our seventh consecutive month of snow. I'm seriously thinking of moving to Siberia for the milder climate!

I'm now more-or-less back to full health, so no more excuses: I'm determined to be posting 30+ miles this time next week.


Inspired by Tony McNally's latest post my attention has turned back to kit. With less than 12 weeks to the big event it's time to get myself a second pair of shoes. Tony makes the excellent point that most trainers are only good for 300-500 miles. Even with low mileage weeks like this one and sometimes using my older trekking shoes during the colder months I must have done close to 200 miles in the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12s I bought just after Christmas. I'm inclined to get another identical pair (or possibly the next iteration GTS 13s), taking the view that 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. By alternating the pairs I hope to ensure that both remain in a decent condition until 22 June. My mission this week: to find somewhere to buy them locally, or a supplier willing to ship them to me...

A question to experienced Parish Walkers: are there any non-obvious items that you now find essential?

Thanks for reading and have a good week!