I thought it might be helpful to keep a list of top tips. Before I do (and as Murray has already ID'd me as a lawyer!) I should add that these tips are not guaranteed to get you round or even help, please consult a doctor before you start (I did but that is another story!), you follow any or all of these tips at your own risk!!!!
Although I only started even thinking about entering the Parish in January 2008, once I decided I thought I better make sure I finished if I could. I then pestered some of my friends and spoke to as many people as I could; to try to work out how to train & prepare. In particular many of the tips came from my good friend Andrew Titley who has now finished no less than 10 times - so my thanks to him. I also read a lot on the internet from race walking sites etc. The aim of this section is therefore to build up a list of ideas for those mad people who want to go all the way! It would be a real help if you could add your own thoughts/tips and perhaps we can try to create a top ten. I will add to these but here is a quick start.
1. If you want to finish, start with that mindset picture yourself crossing the line with a smile on your face - you will have one if you do!
2. Start training as soon as you can and get into a routine of lots of walks even if they are not long ones - 1 hour is better than nothing. Try to get in a few 10 mile plus walks and may be a 20 plus one if you can. Don't leave it too late to do a long walk I would not do one of more than say 15 Miles within 2 - 3 weeks of the Parish.
3. Think about finding a like minded training partner or go to the training sessions. When it is cold and wet or you have had a bad day - hopefully your partner will be in the zone (or wont have had a bad day) and will drag you out. If you haven't found one or it just does not fit in don't worry just get out there!
4. Generally walk as quick as you can for the time you have to train. It is good to try to push most of your sessions to get the heart rate up. Mix up walking sessions with other training for general fitness and core body work. I have just invested in Ryan Giggs DVD having been amazed by his fitness and fleet of foot for a 37 year old - flexibility is important for walking as well.
5. Find an experienced (or if not experienced dedicated) support team. They are essential if you want to finish (my thanks to Gemma (my wife) and Brett Woods who have supported me on both Parishes and the E2E too).
6. Food & Drink - find out what works for you before you start and bring a mixture of supplies anyway. I inagine it is a bit like being pregnant and having cravings, but on a shorter timescale! What works after 40 miles on a hot day may not work after 60miles on a cold day!
My Food; I like to have some salty chicken soup especially for later on as I find it very difficult to eat anything after about 50 miles. I tend to have a sandwich or 2 during the day but make sure they are not to dry - chicken mayo and tomato seem to work for me. 4 or 5 bananas during the walk and the odd mini mars snicker. I think the key is eat a bit of food regularly from early on.
My Drink; combination of water; summer fruit & lucozade - depending on how I am feeling. I also tend to need salt so supporters have that ready and as as necessary especially if I feel the cramps coming on.
7. Shoes. Try out a few different running shoes (and get them fitted by Up and Running!). Make sure you break them in well beforehand and you are comfortable that they do not blister your feet (at least from a decent walk - as you will probably get them if you do the lot). Try to make sure you have 2 pairs broken in before you start. ok if you have read my blog you will see I have a problem and have broken in a few too many pairs...
My Shoes - I like Mizunos as the toe box is quite roomy and they seem to fit my feet well. I have recently tried Brooks and Saucony and have liked both shoes too. I may wear the Brooks but want to do one long walk in them before the day - just to check on the blister situation too. Now invested in some nike's so who knows!!
8. Socks. Lots of different views on which ones are good, no substitute for trying different types. I made the big mistake first time round of picking a new pair out of the draw on the morning of the race, don't do it - I will tell that story another time! Whichever you pick, worn and washed not new!
9. The MIND; point 1 is the most important in my view. Even if you don't feel like you have done enough training, put that out of your mind. The first time Colin G and I did the Parish in 09 looking back we did very little training but I always just said to myself that barring injury I would just keep putting one foot in front of the other and that there was never really going to be the need to stop until the line. I never really had a negative thought about not being able to finish and I think that really helped. I was probably fooling myself but it worked! Just try to concentrate keep your spirits up and get into a rhythm that suits you
10. Perhaps not strictly necessary for the Parish but if you get shin pain on start up especially if pushing it up or down hill at the beginning, try warming up by walking (little steps)just on your heels with your feet pointing up as far as you can (tip courtesy of Sean Hands via Dave Walker).
Running out of time will add to this another time.....