Sunday, 29 December 2013

Preparation is key

We've had some lovely days to get out and walk this week. Christmas Day and Boxing Day and this weekend were perfect walking days. Unfortunately I only managed to get out for an 11 mile walk today, I've been suffering with the dreaded stomach bug and a lingering cold, but I am still determined to finish my 100 miles in December - the tally so far is 98.98. I will get out and do the extra 1.02 miles (at least) before the 1st January 2014.
Training is only one aspect of the Parish Walk. Probably the easiest because walking is what we enjoy doing (hopefully).

There are so many other things to think about before the day of the walk:

This can be daunting as this is as individual as you are. You can ask 1000 people what they eat on the Parish Walk and you may get 1000 different answers. What works for one person may not work for the next. In fact what worked for me in 2012 didn't work so well in 2013. At the beginning of the day I found I could just about eat anything and the sausages somewhere around The Blackboards were great, but I don't think I would have enjoyed them in Andreas! By the time I reached Ramsey I didn't want anything solid, soup is a great energy provider and easy to digest when the body is extremely tired. 
Dale Farquhar's packed food basket
Some ideas for food on the day : 
- sandwiches cut into 4, crusts removed
- cocktail sausages
- muller rice
- energy bars
- bananas (a firm favourite given the amount of bananas Robinsons sell just before the Parish!)
- soup
- easy to eat sweets such as jelly beans, jelly babies, fudge etc.
- nuts and raisins
- use your imagination but make sure that the food is easy to eat and can be eaten in small portions as you walk.

Statistics released this morning on Facebook ParishWalk showed that there are 100 men and 71 women entered for 2014 - come on girls let's show the boys how it's done!

Sunday, 29 December 2013
Men reach century
In contrast with the last couple of years, it is the men that are leading the way by entering the Manx Telecom Parish Walk.






Male total

Female total

My tip of the day - don't leave the preparation to the last minute, keep thinking about what you need and if you need to test it out first.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Training for my first Parish Walk

So now I had my Garmin I was on the road almost every day clocking up the miles and really enjoying it. I was still using old trainers bought in 2008 for the End to End, they seemed to be doing the job OK. Gradually I discovered that OK was not really good enough for the Parish Walk, they needed to be perfect for my feet - so off to Up and Running for a gait analysis and a new pair of shoes. Wow! What a difference they made. They didn't magically make me faster but they were so comfortable and I felt I could walk further without getting footsore.
When I told friends and family about my decision to enter the Parish Walk the response was always "so how far are you going?". When I told them I was going to finish, the majority didn't think I could do it and were not shy in telling me so. As reluctant I was initially to enter I was now equally as determined to finish. I have a very stubborn streak and the more people told me I couldn't, the more I was going to show them I could.
I had to up my training regime, so that's exactly what I did. I did shorter walks during the week but the weekend I always did at least 15 miles and I aimed to better my time every time. Seven weeks from the BIG DAY I planned that each weekend I would walk a 5th of the route, leaving two weeks to rest and recover. My husband would drop me off at my designated point of departure and pick me up 17 miles (approximately 3 hours later). In 5 weeks I had completed the Parish Walk route - now all I had to do was put it all together.

White christmas forecast
4 days to go until Christmas Day

BACK TO THE FUTURE and 2014 training - so far, so good! Despite the windy, wet weather I'm still on track for 100 miles in December. I got wet in Ramsey, fought gale force winds in Maughold and found myself in the middle of a hailstorm on the way to St Johns. I caught a bit of a cold but the self-medication of ginger, honey and lemon tea seems to be working.
My tip of the day - enjoy the festive season with family and friends!


Sunday, 15 December 2013

Christmas Party, Training or Both?

Thankfully I managed to do both! Yesterday was the office Christmas Party so I spent the day "preparing" myself and promising to train today. I kept my promise and parked at the Glen Mona Hotel walked to Lezayre church and back through Maughold up the dreaded Ballajora hill. A total of 16 miles in wind and rain.

I think most Parish Walkers have their difficult part of the walk - mine is Ballajora. I think if I was to give up anywhere along the route it would probably be in Maughold. However, so far I've resisted the temptation! I keep going back hoping that it will get easier with repeated attempts but the hills are still at the same gradient and I still find them difficult.

So the question - how did I get into walking competitively?

After completing the 2008 End to End I was very keen and continued to train almost up to the next E2E but then found out that I had booked a holiday over the same weekend as the event. I was disappointed and stopped walking for 2 years. Towards the end of 2011 I read an article in the Courier about the Winter Walking League and decided to take up the sport once again. Since then I haven't looked back, but I was still adamant that I wasn't crazy enough to walk 85 miles in 24 hours in god knows what kind of weather.
Ramsey training group

I went to training every Monday night with Steve Partington on Ramsey prom and tried to master the art of race-walking (I'm still a work in progress). I was getting faster and fitter. In the photo it looks more like a picnic than training but believe me we worked hard to get the cup of tea at the end!

At the beginning of 2012 a good friend of mine who had walked to Lezayre in 2011 asked me to do the Parish with him as he believed if we did it together we'd finish it. Against my better judgement I agreed. We only trained together once as we never seemed to have the same available time. My training consisted mostly of being dropped off a fair distance from home and I would walk back. I think at this time one of the best tips I received was from Tony Ball. He advised me to buy a GPS watch to monitor my time and distance. I invested in a Garmin and it really was worth every penny. I wasn't worried about racing against anybody else, I just wanted to better my own time on each walk.

My tip of the day has to be - monitor your progress when training by knowing how far you walk and how fast you walk.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Let me explain why I decided the first and possibly most important hint was to stretch.

I was in a hurry last Saturday to get to the vet before they closed and wanted to incorporate the trip into a training walk. It was a cold day but I rushed out the door without any warm up or stretching. By the time I was 6 miles from home my hamstrings were screaming at me to stop. The shortest distance from home was 1.5 miles so I broke into a slow jog and took the pressure off my hamstrings. This was a serious lesson in not race-walking on cold muscles!

I have taken the first step in my Parish Walk 2014 journey ... I have entered, having stayed up until midnight I was in the top 10 to enter - is this a sign of things to come? Who knows - only time will tell.

Winter is always a difficult time for me to continue my training. I leave home for work in the dark and I arrive back home in the dark as I'm sure most people do. It's just so easy to get home and cuddle up with a blanket in front of the telly. So I decided to set myself a December challenge - to walk at least 100 miles during the month. So far, so good. Although I nearly had a collision on Wednesday night with a cyclist coming around a corner with no lights and no high viz clothing.

I have been asking friends with various commitments (work, exercise-phobic spouse, children, pets, elderly parents etc.) how they manage to fit their training into their busy schedules and the common answer seems to be - whenever there is a spare hour in the day they use it to get out and walk. Initially it may feel like taking away relaxation time but it actually aids the relaxation - you get to have time all to yourself, just you and the road.

Last year's Parish Walk had almost equal men / women entries. Can the ladies outnumber the gents in 2014? Let's show them girls - get your entry in, get you walking shoes on and get out there training. I personally believe that the atmosphere and support around the island on the day is amazing.

My hint and tip of the day - invest in some good high visibility clothing, especially in the winter months. Be seen!