Saturday, 24 July 2010

Big training.

I can now tell you what 18 miles feels like. It mostly feels like a sort of dull ache, with a touch of sunburn, and a whole lot of sleepiness.

I set off this morning on this route - another big loop of London made up of sections of paths I've walked before. That really helps as, theoretically, I don't lose time or pace checking a map every five minutes.

It was quite warm out, but not as oppressively hot as it has been recently. I stuck to shade where I could, and set off at a good pace. It was at about mile 12 that my knees and thighs started to ache a bit and they carried on aching from there. My hands and wrists decided to swell quite heavily, which was funny but not particularly helpful, and yet somehow I've still escaped any kind of painful blister. I feel lucky.

The best moment of the day was towards the end of the long drag along Regent's Canal, which is very pretty, but even pretty views get boring after several miles. I was really tiring at this point, and wondering where Limehouse Basin had hidden itself, when I looked up and saw Canary Wharf looming over the buildings in front of me. It gave me such a grin on my face and a spring in my step that I bounced my way down that last mile to the Thames Path.

On arriving home, I sat on the sofa for long enough to eat a sandwich and drink a milkshake (thanks for the advice, Clairey) before retiring to the bedroom and promptly falling asleep for an hour and a half. It was quite possibly the best nap I've ever had.

I woke up with a slightly clicky right ankle and a nice lobster pink glow to my legs. No idea how I'm going to feel in the morning, but luckily it's a rest day.

Next walk is 4 miles on Monday. I don't think I'm going to dread that one anymore.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Wow. Just Wow.

I'd been dreading it for weeks, but my marathon training schedule has just thrown up my first mid-week 8 mile walk. This is more a question of logistics than distance, although I'd be lying if I said I wasn't also a little nervous about the prospect of clocking up 34 miles of training this week.

Anyway, all this was put into perspective yesterday when I found out about Matt Green, a man who is walking from one side of America to the other.

This awesome journey from New York to Oregon, which he started in March this year, will cover 3100 miles. He is aiming to complete it in 9 months (this includes plenty of rest days) and will be relying on his tent and the kindness of strangers along the way.

I am completely in awe of Matt, and just a little bit jealous. I became even more impressed when I discovered that his challenge is self-directed by his search for adventure. There's no charity, no world record, just a chap who wants to walk. And explore. And document his journey with some intriguing photos as he goes.

If you want to be just as stunned as I am, and also see some great photos from his journey so far, I strongly urge you to go and take a look at Matt's site:

Thursday, 15 July 2010

A little help for my friends.

Since I started all this walking, and since the weather started making it more pleasant (before summer was stolen from us again), I've started hearing friends making noises about starting to walk more often themselves. I, of course, think this is a wonderful idea so I thought I'd give anyone who was interested a little insight to planning the perfect walk. I'm going to apologise in advance that this might be a little London-centric.

For A-B walks and circular walks
For a lot of my walking activity, I use to plan my routes. It's great for finding A-B routes and will tell you how far it is, an approximation of how long it will take you, and a whole host of other stats. You can also choose less busy routes which will take a bit longer but keep you away from the traffic.

Recently they launched a circular route finder, which I find really useful for weekend training when I don't really have to walk anywhere in particular. Circular routes are chosen by start point and how long you want to be on your feet - anywhere from 15 mins to 4 hours - and can be adapted according to how fast you walk.

They're not quite country-wide yet, but they cover a good number of cities across the UK. I particularly love Walkit for short trips - it's saved me a lot of tube and bus journeys over the years.

For longer walks and to find out just how far that walk was
When I've gone off on a bit of a ramble with no fixed route, or when I have an idea of where I want to go and want to plot something around a number of fixed points, I use either or good old Google Maps.

This method takes a bit longer, but there's a lot more flexibility to the route as you're building it yourself. Both will give you a running (or, er, walking) total of how far you will be or have been travelling so, if you're wanting to reach a certain distance, you know when you can sit down.

However, it's worth noting that will only let you print out maps if you have a paid subscription with them.

For London Walks and footpaths
Without I would not be doing this challenge. For a start, I probably wouldn't have heard of the Capital Ring and I almost certainly wouldn't have had the maps to guide me around it.

But it's much more than just the Capital Ring, there's also the Thames Path, and the Jubilee Walkway, and the Green Chain, and the and the and the. There are great PDF maps and guides to download on each of these. If you're London based or bound, I'd really suggest that you start exploring this site.

For almost London Walks
I bought this book when my distance training started going beyond 8 miles and I decided that I'd quite like to get out of London occasionally.

All of the walks are within a short train ride from the city and are graded according to difficulty. What's nice about them is that they've been written by a keen occasional walking group (the Saturday Walkers' Club) so they're already tested.

The Saturday Walkers' Club also have a website. There are lots of free walks on there, and you can even join them on a ramble if you like. Their site is the one that provided our Walton-on-the-Naze to Clacton walk a couple of weeks back (Walk 52, reversed)

For long walks anywhere in the UK
The Long Distance Walkers Association keeps a list of long distance paths and walks in the UK. Just so you know, a long distance path is a path over 20 miles in length. They also host group and challenge walks for members.

I haven't used the LWDA much yet, but imagine that I will be very soon.

And that's my list of useful resources for now. If I discover any more I'll be sure to share them.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Ward Walks Home*

* Er, actually, I'm not fit enough to do that one yet. London to Southampton is about equivalent to the distance of my challenge next year. Not ready for that!

I went back to Southampton this weekend to spend an evening with my mum (although I'm sure she won't mind me saying that the main draw was seeing Jim Moray and Cara Dillon at the Eastleigh Music Festival on Friday really...) and took the opportunity to take my training to my home city.

Or rather, around my home city.

Saturday afternoon was spent walking 15 miles which took me around Southampton Sports Centre, Common, town centre, marina and docks. I took some pictures to stop myself obsessing about the oppressive heat and worrying about blisters.

As usual, you can see them nice and big (and with a few little stories in the descriptions) on my Flickr.

It was an afternoon with some pretty intense memories and sometimes I just wanted to stop and reflect for a bit. I don't like stopping, but I allowed myself a few moments to do just that at the boating lake on Southampton Common.

Back in 2003, I spent the first term of the last year of my degree on Southampton Common. I mapped every square based on memories and discoveries and it became It wasn't an entirely successful project, and I wince at some of the spelling mistakes on there, but it did provide me with many happy memories.

One day in early November, I took Dad to the boating lake to sail homemade boats just as he had done when he was a boy. The only difference was that he had told me stories of beautiful balsa wood constructions, and I had provided two tiny paper ones.

We cycled from our house to the Common and cautiously launched our crafts. Then we spent a good hour or so sitting on a bench nearby laughing ourselves stupid. Our boats had sunk almost immediately and a big motorised boat came along and stole the limelight.

Afterwards we went home and had a number of cups of tea at the kitchen table and laughed some more. It was a good day.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Ward Walks Clacton...

This weekend we went for a little mini break to Clacton-on-Sea after deciding that we'd had enough of the hot inner city weather of London. We needed coastal breezes!

We started off the weekend with a 7.5 mile walk from Walton-on-the-Naze to Clacton. It's a really lovely stroll of easy walking right along the water's edge pretty much all the way. I have to admit that, although I've added it to my log, we didn't take it as seriously as a usual training walk. I don't usually use the word 'stroll'. Or stop halfway for an ice cream. *ahem*

Anyway here are some photos from the trip, including one illustrating the perfect ending to a walk. No, not a pint. Paddling.

Walton PierCOCKLES!
Clacton Pier in the distance
As usual, further photos can be found on Flickr.

Usual training will resume this week with 3 sets of 4 miles and one mammoth 16 mile at the weekend. I'm rather hoping that the weather cools down for that.