Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Nothing much to report today last day of the month so into the final countdown tomorrow. Usual walk tonight but lovely sunny evening and roads quiet as I went out after the practices had started.

Still lots of walkers and cyclists out and about which is great to see. Tried the weight loss water loss test again and lost approx 3 lbs in 1 hr 45 min. As I am walking quicker than when on the Parish I reckon that equates to around 1 pint an hour... I'll keep doing the test to get a more accurate breakdown but it gives you an idea of how much you need to take onboard.

Recovered from the weekend with about 30miles under my belt since I got home on Sunday - I think I need a bit less sleep to make a few more hours in the day - this last month has meant I have been a bit of a stranger at home at times but one day I'll persuade the kids to come out with me and the constant training will be coming to an end soon anyway.

Shin pain seems to have disappeared of late and knees generally ok but definitely feel the need for a massage to release some tight legs and hopefully help with promoting a smooth and relaxed style.

Until next time....

A good long weekend

No rain today, made the most of it with a couple of hours walk and 2 bbqs! Breakfast and dinner! Nipped into work and now watching a film but thought I better catch up on the blogging too!

Had a fairly quiet weekend on the exercise front as went to the game of the decade which did not quite turn out that way for my team :( . Never mind it was a great occasion and I saw Usain Bolt who walked straight past where we sitting - although a bit too quick to get a decent picture!!

Yes that is him but not the best camera work!!

Before it all went wrong!!!

Wandered around London from one place to eat and drink to another both before and after the game so that was the extent of my Saturday exertions!!

The closest we go to the cup....... someone was passing with a replica !!!!!!

I keep telling all my friends who are Liverpool and City fans and revelling in the defeat that you need to suffer the losses to appreciate the wins! A red mancunian was not happy but enjoyed the day and we were well beaten by the best team I have ever seen.

Anyway after a late night and an early start on Sunday I got home Sunday lunchtime and as we were out later in the evening I managed to motivate myself to walk there to get another 8 miles under my belt as I was beginning to feel guilty... Not eased by the great Indian takeaway from Peel on arrival (although 1 meal had fresh Ginger in it for the anti-inflammatory relief???) so much for the diet!

Turning back to the Parish not long left now, beginning to make some last preparations for those of you who read my embarrassing shoes blog I have now chosen which pair to wear - I have plumped for the Nike Lunar Eclipse found them comfortable and the sole seems really good for my walking style. Got my regular clothes sorted the only thing I am still not sure about is which socks I am going to wear - I have been trying out the embarrassing knee length compression socks but not sure if I am brave enough to wear them on the day yet!!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Remember it's Fun

During my walk tonight I was reflecting on last year's Parish and how much I actually enjoyed the challenge. I suddenly realised that much of the blog over the last few months has focused on training and tips to finish and preparation etc etc. Whilst these are important to think about they are also easy to obsess about too. Whilst I keep telling the family that a bit of obsession is needed I realise that there are nearly 2000 people entering this event around10% will finish and I guess less than say 20% actually want or are really trying to finish. So I realise that out of the 6,500 thousand or so page reads so far (which is a great testament to Murray's fab website and efforts to keep us all interested in the big event) a good  proportion of readers are perhaps concentrating on walking to Peel and I haven't really mentioned much about this; or for those of you who are newbies like I was in 2009 - what to expect on the day.

So here goes - enjoy it, is fun, for the newbies you will meet lots of great people on the way whether you walk in a group or on your own there will always be someone new around you and lots of smiling faces and cheering crowds to lift your spirits and help you round the next bend.

For those of you who are looking to get to Peel then I would try to work out a comfortable pace for you to walk at and try to get into a rhythm and relax. Enjoy the day and make sure you eat and drink before you get to the sloc,I found it gets difficult to eat on the way up and you need the energy to help you on the way up.  I am not sure about having a beer at the round table - I was very tempted first time :) but managed to resist...

It is a great feeling getting into Peel whether you are stopping there or not and anyone who says "I am just going to Peel" needs to get a different mindset because 32.5 miles up and down dale is a long way and a real achievement so be positive and don't minimise the achievement whether it be a stepping stone to next years Parish or whether you will do this only once - it is a great day - otherwise why would we all keep coming back?!?

Thought I would add a picture to remind us all what it was like when it wasn't wet and windy!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Windy Monday


It was a really wild night last night but managed to convince myself that I needed to get out despite a late night at work and feeling pretty tired as I was away at the weekend. I have also picked up a bit of a niggly knee injury over the last few days - think I need a massage to release the legs as I have put some miles in recently. I therefore decided to try to walk a bit slower and stretch the legs out a bit more.

I have read a fair amount about race walking technique and the general consensus seems to be to warn against overstriding, shorter strides out front and try to increase stride length behind you for the push off. A good site if you are interested is http://www.eracewalk.com/Tech.htm. I have been trying to improve the technique as the better the style the more efficient, the less energy used the more likely you are to get round...
That said due to the knee pain I decided to slow up a little and increase stride length so that I take a few less steps and go the same distance with a lower cadence with the logic that you do not need to maximise speed for the parish and less steps to an extent means using less energy? That was my logic anyway... I felt pretty fresh when I got home so maybe the experiment worked, I did not really race walk more like longer striding power walk but was only 2 mins slower than my usual time over nearly 9miles so not a huge difference. I would be interested to see if anyone else has any theories on this, as most of the sites are technique for speed rather than efficiency for an ultra walk.

Anyway despite the wind a refreshing walk and a few more miles under the belt. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I am trying to loose a few pounds to help me up the hills. I have managed to loose a few just with the training and being a bit careful about the intake but there is still a bit to go - I am hoping to loose another 4 or 5 pounds over the last 2 weeks or so of heavy training - time will tell I guess!

Keep on going - not long left now...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Trying to keep the training up

It has been a pretty busy week at work this week, we are moving office in the next few weeks too so there is a lot to organise. Anyway i have managed to get out for a couple of reasonable length walks after work so still feeling like training is on track. I think there is about 3 weeks left of pushing the training so beginning to feel the end is in sight as it is pretty difficult to get the life balance right at the moment especially with the kids exams too. That said I still find the walking relaxing and a good way to de-stress.

Not much else to add tonight except to confess that I did a bit of planning yesterday ( when I took the night off from training) trying to set myself times to reach each parish church so that I would know whether I was on track. I have tried to shave a bit of time of each leg especially the ones up north when I went through a bad patch last time. It is all very well setting times but I obviously now have to get inside them on the day if I am to improve. I took some inspiration from the BackleyBlack talk as they emphasised the importance of setting goals and preparing - so I thought I would give it a go. I am also beginning to think about food and trying to plan what and when to eat as this side of the preparation is equally important. Yes everyone thinks I am obsessing about the event - I guess they are right but I would really like to firstly finish again, to beat last years time and my ultimate goal get under 17 hrs and to do that takes a bit of obsession I reckon!! Anyway time will tell if the work has paid off.


Monday, May 16, 2011


Ok, not the most interesting blog post subject but as I have given myself a night off (after feeling pretty tired today having pushed it over the weekend) and seeing the renewed interest in the Parish Site after the deadline has passed I thought a quick sock review might be of interest!?!

As you will see from my tips page (click the link across this page) the first point to make is never wear a new pair for a long walk (in fact I would always wash first anyway). I made this elementary mistake on my first lap in 2009 and ended up shredding my feet by the end. The second point is whatever you plan to wear on the day make sure you have worn them a few times during your training (and hopefully found them to be kind to your feet).

There are lots of different types/styles/materials but the bottom line is that socks are in direct contact with your feet and choosing the right pair of socks to wear will make a huge difference. The wrong pair can wrinkle up within a shoe and retain moisture, which can cause blisters and be one of the main reasons to stop. The best for me are ones that fit my feet well, and are made with fabrics that keep them cool, dry and comfortable. Main fabrics for wicking are polyester, acrylic, and CoolMax wicking away moisture
 will help reduce blister risk. I have also tried the double layer socks but not really sure about them - I don't tend to have trouble with blisters during training so can't really tell - some people swear by them others don't like them; the main thing that puts me off is that my feet tend to overheat with these on so I tend to stick with the tight fit coolmax type that are fitted. The main problem with these is that I wear through them really quickly so I tend to just wear them for races.

I have mentioned before that I also have the compression socks but as they are knee length you have to make sure you train at night - I also have to avoid the kids on the way out of the house as they find it very embarrassing :)

If anyone reading has any other ideas or theories please comment as it is a good idea to make the effort to get the foot wear right and give your feet the best chance to make it through the day.

Training resumes tomorrow with renewed vigour as I went to the BackleyBlack talk at lunchtime sponsored by Lloyds - with both stars being brought over by Scottish Widows too; so big thanks to Dean and Trevor. I did not make the talk in the Gaiety tonight but sure it would be good too. They focused on a few principles that I am sure are good to reflect on if you are trying to go the distance - hopefully I remembered most of them:

  • Passion
  • Self-belief
  • Surround yourself with talented people
  • preparation
  • Absolute clarity of thought and goals - you don't need to win to achieve your goals but aim high and go for it
So if you are in it to finish - clear your mind of the negatives; go in with a plan; visualise the end and get out there and train - and you will enjoy it!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cross Training

Busy day today; got out for a good alternative session as decided that need to work on overall fitness a bit more. I am hoping this will pay dividends in the second half on the day as I really suffered up North last year. Once I got through to Maughald i got a real lift and felt ok but before then I was really suffering with exhaustion and overheating; Once I had cooled down and got back onto the main road I just said to myself it is downhill all the way!!

Anyway digressing - I did a 5 mile run/walk up to Santon albeit I think I overdid it a bit when I tried to run up Richmond hill as was exhausted by the time I got to the top! Then Gemma picked me up in the car to meet our friends Neil and Mary for a blast down South on mountain bikes. They took us up every hill in the area and apart from a sore butt and returning absolutely exhausted I really enjoyed it. I also realised that I will never enter the Mountain bike E2E and that I need a new bike (mainly because I used this as an excuse for everyone else beating me up the hills!).

Now curled up looking for a film to watch having had roast dinner and a glass of wine - life is good :)


Back on Track?

Went out on Saturday afternoon for a 10 miler round my usual Baldwin route with a 1 1/2 mile extension up to St Lukes and back round towards the reservoir. I thought about going up Carraghan again but time was against me. My shoulder pain has almost gone at the moment just a dull ache this morning; I am hoping it was a one off injury but need to keep an eye on it.

The back roads were really busy partly due to the fact there was a wedding on - I even had to stop to give directions to one guest who turned out to be closely followed by the wedding entourage which came round the corner as I was explaining whee to go! I think the few days enforced rest gave me useful additional recovery time which really helped the workout especially speed over this hilly course. Managed to get round in 1hr 45min so hopefully this is a sign the training is paying off and also shows the importance on proper use of the arms keep them bent at 85 - 90 degrees for the quicker work. When I first did this walk before my first parish 2 years ago I was doing it in the same time but before the 1 1/2 mile additional loop so gives you a lift to see that hopefully still improving.

Going out for an indian on sat night perhaps undid some of the good work but you have to have the odd treat.... Not sure what I will manage today - 4 of us planning to go out on the mountain bike for a bit of cross training but might try to go for a short walk too just to keep the legs going.

More later....

Friday, May 13, 2011

Armless Training

Well as mentioned in my last blog the first opportunity to get out was last night but that worked well as my shoulder has been getting better but still a few aches and pains.

So Thursday night I decided to do my hilly regular 8 1/2 miler but made an effort not to move arms too much. It was quite a good test as it becomes difficult to change your style and it probably makes you work harder on other parts of your technique. I started reasonable well just trying to swing more from the elbows. I saw fellow walker and last years official blogger Andy Walker and Sally as they went by (in car not on foot this time) they probably wondered why I was walking so strangely! Managed to get into a reasonable rhythm into Baldwin and then met Sean Hands speeding by on the otherwise deserted east - west baldwin road. The shoulder felt OK so managed to walk the last downhill stretch at reasonable pace with short arm swings holding elbows at 90degrees.

Overall I was about 5mins slower than my usual time but a decent workout nonetheless. It also highlights how important the proper use of arms is. I know that after Peel it becomes harder and harder to keep the proper technique as the fatigue sets in but if you can just keep those arms going....

Walks planned for Sat and Sunday so hopefully shoulder will hold up as only a few weeks more before I will ease off.

will we make 2000 this year?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Injury scare

Picked up an annoying injury which is hopefully not too bad but have been advised by my parish medical team (thanks dr garvey) that I should take it easy for a few days and take some antiinflamatory tablets. Not sure what brought it on - probably just overuse but serious shoulder pain came on overnight on sat night and could barely move my shoulder on Sunday. Rest ice and tablets eased it off and now feels ok just dull ache. A few days recovery is probably no bad thing; in london monday tuesday anyway and as it is gemma's bday tomorrow I will stay off the roads til Thursday. Should be ready to give it a big blast then though....

Still great to see how many people are out training and see from murray's blog that the numbers are going up - hopefully 2000 is still achievable. Finally congratulations to Michael George again for winning the 20k championships in a super quick time - I just can't work out how people can walk that quick - lots more technique and fitness training for the rest of us!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011


ok confession time, I have got a major problem. Since wrecking my feet the first time I did the parish (I had Dudley Butt rivaling blisters with the soles of my feet shredded) I have become more and more obsessed with footwear. I now realise I have more shoes than Gemma and I am amassing an "up and running" rivalling cross section of running shoes.

In my defence I have size 14 feet which means I cannot just walk into a shop and try shoes on. This tends to mean that I have to shop around online and I have now found a couple of sites that stock lots of shoes in my size. This has opened somewhat of a Pandora's box as I have never really had a choice of shoes before - if I found a pair that fit I tended to buy them!

Unfortunately I have carried on with this policy as I have been looking for the ideal shoe to wear for the Parish. The good news is that I have plenty of shoes broken in as I have 8 pairs that are run in;I am now rotating at least 8 pairs! It is quite surprising the difference between different pairs even of the same make. I have a number of Mizuno's as they seem to have a wide toe box and have generally fairly firm soles with decent support. the Brooks;(not sure what model)are also pretty comfortable and have a short tongue and I find that this helps reduce aggravation to the top of the foot. The Saucony pair are also very comfortable although my favorites at the moment are a pair of Nike Lunar Eclipse which are very comfortable and at the moment I plan to use them on the big day. My other pair is a minimalist pair of racing flats called Nike Zoom Streak xc 2. They are really light and I plan to use the in the shorter races but I do not think they will give my feet enough support for the longer distances. I have only just bought them so may give them a go on a longer walk in the next week or so but will probably stick to the Eclipse on the day.

I am trying to kick the habit now as I have enough pairs to last me until I enter the next age category! Oh well enough of the confessions - Gemma made me take a picture of them all and I now see there are 9 pairs and I could not find another pair which I have not worn for a while :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Holidays Over

Well carried on training hard over the weekend culminating in a 17miler over some really hilly terrain. Went up to brandywell then down the road towards the west down towards Sartfield and then back on yourself down the West Baldwin road to Injebreck and beyond!

 It involved 4,300 ft of ascent including the millennium path around Carraghan which is not only steep but difficult terrain and mainly into the teeth of a serious gale - I was tired at the top so stopped to take these piccies.

Other than the wind, the weather was great and when I turned the corner with the wind at my back it was easy to get some real pace up to make up the time lost earlier. Managed to average 5.1 according to the garmin which I was pretty pleased with given the climbing and the windy conditions.

I was beginning to run out of energy towards the end as only brought drink with me but managed to make it back with a craving for some pasta which was quickly satisfied. Later in the day we went up Bradda Head with the family so more hills but at a gentle pace. Here are some more pictures of this beautiful spot.

Family dinner on the prom with more views of the head - the Island is just beautiful I wonder why we go on holiday anywhere else?

Fairly relaxed day Monday although did manage some golf in the morning which wasn't too bad despite the wind it is a good way just to stretch the legs out before a longer walk tomorrow. This month is the main push for me so must keep it up.

Weight loss starting now due to training and cutting back a bit I reckon another 7lbs to go before I can walk up the sloc without feeling guilty that I am carrying up a few too many pounds... Time will tell.