In 297 days time I will start my biggest race to date – the 6 jours de france (Privas 6 day race). Six days of walking around a 1,025 meter circuit in Privas, France.
I competed in the 3 day event this year and haven’t been able to stop thinking about the race since. I hated it and I loved it. Reading my 2015 race report you wouldn’t think that I would want to go back for more (it wasn’t my best result of the year), but there hasn’t been a day go by since, and there won’t be a day go by during the next 42 weeks, in which the race hasn’t been in my thoughts.
Privas is my ‘A’ goal for 2016 and everything I do over the next 9 ½ months will be preparation for this event.
When I wrote my book, WALK – Going The Distance, recently one of the people who proof read it suggested that I had a chapter about the sacrifices I had made in order to do what I had done during 2015, but to be honest I don’t consider anything I have done up until now to be a sacrifice – other than sleep and time away from the family maybe.
But to compete at the level that I want to in October I will have to make many sacrifices. When doing long training walks I try to get up very early in the morning (3am’ish) so that I can complete a 6 to 8 hour walk and be back home well before lunchtime on a Saturday and/or Sunday so as to reduce the amount of time I spend away from my family, but my sleep suffers all the time. Early morning starts or late nights due to the need to squeeze in a 2 or 3 hour walk before or after a day at work. Either way, it isn’t very often that I get 8 hours sleep in a night. I have had a fitbit for the last 5 ½ months. As well as measuring activity, fitbit also records my sleep, and it shows that since July I have averaged just 6 hours and 40 minutes of sleep per night.
At the beginning of September this year I also decided that I needed to reduce my sugar intake, or to be more specific, reduce my Coke intake. I have been addicted to drinking Coca Cola for over 20 years and it had got to the stage where I was drinking as much as 2 litres per day. So I went cold turkey and stopped drinking Coke except for in races (I’ve only done one race since – the Roubaix 28 hour race during which I lived on Coke for the whole race) and the some special occasions (such as Christmas). I used to justify my excessive consumption of Coke by telling people that I needed the calories and the caffeine that I got from Coke, but as soon as I gave up I found that I was actually less tired than when I was using the caffeine from the Coke to keep me awake!
But the biggest sacrifices are yet to come:
I eat way too much bad food. I love junk food, biscuits, chocolate, crisps, heat and eat meals, croissants (my usual lunch), the list goes on…
But if I want to achieve my 2016 goals I think it is time to start eating a decent diet. I’m going to reduce the amount of processed food I consume starting immediately. No more cornflakes for breakfast. No more croissants for lunch. My evening meals are usually good quality except for when my wife, Ruth, is away and I have a ‘heat and eat’ or something else that doesn’t have much more nutritional value than the packaging it comes in.
I’m also going to replace my snacks with fruit. No more chocolate bars or biscuits when sitting at my desk or bags of crisps on the tube coming home after a day at a client’s office.
My diet for 2016 will consist of fruit and unprocessed foods for breakfast and lunch, and fruit for snacks during the day. I think this is going to be the hardest thing I have ever done. Much harder than any race I have competed in. I have put a picture on the desktop of both my home and work computers along with some words to remind me about the end goal. Something that I will see several times a day to remind me that the sacrifice will be worth it in the end.
It’s not that I don’t like stretching. It is just that I don’t have enough time in my day to fit in a stretching session as well as everything else. But starting today I am going to do a minimum of three 30 minute stretching sessions every week. That’s over 120 stretching sessions between now and Privas. I’ve added stretching in to my training diary to help ensure that I don’t forget, and by having a reminder on my computers desktop I hope to see that whenever I decide to spend 30 minutes on facebook, and go and do some stretching instead!.
My 6 day race goal:
The six day race in Privas is my ‘A’ goal for 2016 and everything I do between now and then will be focussed on preparing for that race.
My goal for the race? I want to win!
But winning can’t be the only goal because I don’t have any control over the other competitors. I can only control myself so at this point in time my goal is ‘to stand on the start line 4pm on Sunday 23rd October in the best physical and mental condition of my life’.
If I can do that then I feel that 400 miles (640km) should easily be achievable. The current NZ record is 387 miles (622km). To be honest, my goal is to walk substantially further than that, but let’s see how the training goes before defining a more specific goal.
Whilst Privas is my ‘A’ goal I also plan on competing in four other races of 100 miles or longer during 2016, and would also like to do a 165 mile walk around the outside of the M25 as a charity fundraising walk for Sports Relief in mid March. The M25 is actually only 117 miles in total but in order to stay on the outside of the M25 (on the A and B roads) it looks like I will need to cover about 165 miles in total. This will be my second longest distance walked in one go, and I think I can do it in around 48 hours. I will provide more details on this later in January.
My rough plan for 2016 at this stage is as follows:
- 27-28 February 2016 – Bourges 24 hour race in France
This will be a training race only. 24 hours on my feet but no set distance target
- Mid March 2016 –circumnavigation of the M25 via the A and B roads outside of the M25 parameter – approximately 165 miles.
- 14-15 May 2016 – Dutch Centurions Race
100 miles in under 24 hours to become a Continental centurion.
- 28-29 May 2016 – Grand Union Canal Race (again)
This took me 43 hours in 2015. The goal this year will be to go under 40 hours.
- 6-7 August 2016 – UK Centurions 100 mile race
My target for this event will be to go under 21 hours which will beat the current NZ record. My best time for 100 miles is currently 21:45.
- 23-29 October 2016 – 6 jours de france (Privas 6 day race)
The big one!
So there it is. My plans for 2016 on paper (so to speak).
I hope you all have a happy new year.