Category Archives: Training

March Training Summary

After an injury scare in January that meant I couldn’t train from late January until mid February, I was back on track with a good month of training in March – 526km (327 miles) in total, including a walk of at least six hours each weekend (back to back 6 ½ hour walks on the second weekend of March) and a 100km walk last weekend.

My intention was always to build up to a big month in March before my 2017 races start on the 21st April, and given my lack of training at the start of the year, I am happy with my month.

100km training test:

Testing my Ultimate Direction running vest
Testing my Ultimate Direction running vest

I’m particularly happy with the 100km last weekend, in which I tested my nutrition strategy and also my new Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest, for the second time.

I left home at 3:30 on Saturday morning with the aim of walking the most direct route up through London to Gunpower parkrun in Waltham Abbey, using Google Maps to lead me in the right direction.  During this section of the walk I ate fruit every half hour (two bananas, two clementines, an apple, as well as some dates and raisins) and because it was still reasonably cool, I didn’t need much more than a few sips of water.

I arrived at Gunpowder Park with less than two minutes until the parkrun started, dropped my UD vest and jacket at the finish area and then walked a 34:40 5km to bring up a total for the morning of 47km in exactly 6 hours.  I had averaged 7:44/km for the walk up to Gunpowder Park and was almost 1 minute faster per kilometre during the parkrun.  Not a bad effort.

Walk to Gunpowder parkrun and back
My 100km walk

After scanning my parkrun barcode I had my first coke and cereal bar of the day, packed my jacket into the back of the running vest, and headed off in a north west direction.  My plan was to cross over the M25 given that I was close to it, walk a mile or two and then head home via Wembley so as to turn the walk into a loop rather than out and back.  I thought the walk home would be about 45km and I was hoping to stay within a few seconds of my pace from the first 42km (7:44/km).

I continued to eat every 30 minutes, but this time I was eating biscuits, cereal bars, and chocolate, and drinking coke and water.  It also turned out that my route home was a little hillier than the route up to Gunpowder Park and my average pace for what ended up being 53km back to home was 8:12/km.

I don’t know whether the slowdown was related to my change of food, tiredness, or the result of overdoing it in the parkrun, or a combination of all three, so it wasn’t really a great test.  But overall I was happy with the walk.  I felt both mentally and physically strong the whole way.  The 100km took me just under 13 hours and 14 minutes to complete, excluding the 3 minutes I was stopped for at the end of parkrun, and I think I could have comfortably continued at that pace for another 61km which means I would have walked 100 miles in around 21 ½ hours.

Dublin to Belfast:

I’ll probably do another couple 6+ hour walks over the next two weekends and then take two weeks easy before my first race of 2017 – the Dublin to Belfast ultramarathon.  This is a 105 mile (169km) road race starting at 11am on Friday 21st April in Dublin, and like most running ultras, I’m likely to be the only walker in the race.  The course has about 1,100 meters of ascent/descent and I’m not a big fan of hills, but I think I should be able to walk in in around 25 or 26 hours.  I’ve given myself 30 ½ hours from the time the race starts until my flight home from Belfast leaves, so in reality, I probably need to complete the distance in less than 29 hours in order to get to the airport in time for the flight, and if I can go faster than that, I can have a shower before my flight 🙂

M25 circumnavigation:

And two weeks after the Dublin to Belfast race I will be having another attempt at circumnavigating London’s M25 motorway non-stop, on foot.  As with my failed attempt last year, I am doing this to raise money for charity – Limbless Association.  Full details are here.

Fundraising for the local scout group:

As well as fundraising for Limbless Association, I am also in the process of organising a fundraising walk to help our local scout group, The Petersham & Ham Sea Scouts, who need to replace their clubrooms.

The Petersham & Ham Sea Scout group is the oldest troop in the world.  They were established in 1908 and have operated continuously ever since.  Their scout hut isn’t quite as old as they are, but does need to be replaced and they need to raise £900,000 to replace the building.  To help with their fundraising I’ve volunteered to organise a 3 hour walk which the individual beavers, cubs, scouts and explorers (and maybe even some of the leaders) will use as a sponsored walk.

Fitbit have kindly provided a couple Fitbit devices as prizes, one to the person who raises the most sponsorship, and one as a spot prize.

I will provide more details as plans progress.

Ultra Magazine’s Ultra Festival:

Lastly, on the first weekend of June I will be speaking at Ultra Magazine’s annual Ultra Festival.  The title of my presentation is “Sometimes it is faster to walk than run”.  I think the organisers have been surprised at how I can beat as many as 2/3rds of the runners in races like the Grand Union Canal Race without running a step, and have invited me to share the secrets of race-walking with their audience.  I don’t want to give away too much though, as some of the people I will be talking to will be my competitors in the Thames Ring 250 at the end of June 🙂

If you are interested in attending, you can find details here.

Year To Date Mileage:

March accounted for over 50% of my 2017 mileage.  I’ve now covered 642 miles (1,033km) in a total of 130 hours (5 days and 10 hours).

Where I walked in March
Where I walked in March

February Training Summary

February was a quiet month relatively speaking.  I got sick at the end of January and ended up taking three weeks off training from the 24th January through to the 12th February inclusive.

In the final two weeks of the month I completed 9 walks ranging from 5km to 40km, and now feel that I am almost back to full fitness.

I was originally planning on doing the Bourges 24 hour race in France this coming weekend, but cancelled those plans when I got sick so as to not put pressure on myself to get back to training until I was ready.  I’m glad I made that decision, and although I feel that I could complete a 24 hour race next weekend, I don’t think I could give it 100%.

So instead, the plan is to do a high mileage month in March including a back to back weekend mid month and a 10 to 12 hour walk at the end of March.

Total mileage for February: 154km (96 miles)

Year To Date: 507km (315 miles)

Where I walked in February
Where I walked in February

January Training Summary

I’ve been debating whether or not to start my monthly training summaries again now that I have resumed serious training and my build-up towards another attempt at walking 700+ kilometres in 6 days at the 6 jours de france in August.

A few people have told me that they find my training summaries interesting, and one day I think I’ll want to read back through them – I haven’t yet read through last year’s monthly training summaries though.

And right now (31st of January) I’m unable to train due to illness, so thought why not spend half an hour writing something.

Last year I think I might have taken my training a little too seriously.  I stopped eating unhealthy food, stopped drinking coke – except in races – and whilst I focused on training mileage (quantity), I don’t think I trained hard enough (quality).

So this year I have decided not to worry about diet so much.  Although I will never go back to the diet I used to have before last year when I used to eat and drink way too many junk calories.

With my actual training, I have decided to increase the intensity in 2017.  I’m still going to maintain reasonable mileage, but at least half of my walks will involve some high intensity walking of some sort – this will usually involve fartlek/interval type training in the middle of a walk.  For example, I recently did a 5 hour walk that included 1km hard, 1km easy, 2km hard, 1km easy, 3km hard, 1km easy and 4km hard.  And then after another 4km easy I walked a 29:46 5km at Bushy Park parkrun before finishing off with another easy hour.  Two days earlier I had done a 3 hour walk including 6 x 2km hard, and the day afterwards I walked 7 ½ hours at an easy pace.

I enjoy exploring when I’m walking, and try to cover as much territory as possible – heading in a different direction every time I head out the door.  Using my Garmin to tell me when to start and stop hard segments based on kilometre splits is an easy way of increasing the intensity of my walks whilst still enabling me to go exploring.

Where I walked during January
Where I walked during January

The other problem I have right now is that I have had to do a lot of travelling for work, and have worked hours that haven’t enabled me to walk in daylight much – other than the weekends.

This has meant that much of my training has been in very cold conditions, mostly before work (5am starts in zero degree temperatures), and as a result I now have a chest infection caused by breathing in too much cold air over a prolonged period.  I had the same problem in 2015 but ignored it for too long and the infection spread to my lungs.  This time I stopped training after two weeks of discomfort, but it is likely that it will take me at least another week before I can resume training again.

Rather than putting pressure on myself to get back to full fitness as quickly as possible, I have decided not to compete in the Bourges 24 hour race on the 4th/5th of March.  Instead, I’m thinking of walking in the inaugural Dublin to Belfast 105 mile race in mid April as my first race of 2017.  I like the idea of walking from one place to another, and this race is 5 weeks before my other point to point race for 2017 – the Grand Union Canal Race.

It does mean that I need to reconsider when I will have another attempt at a nonstop circumnavigation of the M25 motorway though.  I was thinking of doing that at the end of April but that would be only one week after the Dublin to Belfast race.  I could potentially do it on the first weekend of May which is two weeks after Dublin to Belfast and three weeks before the GUCR, or otherwise I will delay it until the end of the summer, after the six day race.  I plan on competing in the Thames Ring 250 at the end of June/beginning of July which would prevent me from doing the M25 walk during the summer months.  The TR250 is a 250 mile race starting 4 ½ weeks after the GUCR and finishing 7 weeks before the 6 day race.  I don’t think it would be wise to attempt the M25 walk during that 7 week gap.  The last thing I want is to end up with an injury.

Limbless AssociationThe good news is that I’ve decided on a charity to support when I do my M25 walk this year.  I’m planning to raise money for Limbless Association.  The reason I have chosen Limbless Association this year is that I consider myself very lucky to be able to walk the distances that I do.  I have two good legs and two good arms, but not everyone does, and I would like to raise money this year to help those less fortunate than myself.  It’s just a matter of working out when I can do my charity walk.

So please stay tuned for an update.  I’ll post updates here on my blog as well as via facebook and twitter.  In the meantime, please visit my JustGiving page.

P.S. Thanks to Fitbit, and hopefully other companies, there will be a prize draw related to my fundraising walk.  All you will need to do to enter the draw is make a donation AND share one of my facebook posts or re-tweet one of my tweets in which I ask for donations, so keep an eye out for these too.

Anyway, that’s all I have to say for now.  I’ll probably write another training summary at the end of February.


Until then,



P.S.  Total mileage for January was 353km (219 miles).