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:
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.
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 🙂
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).