Monday, 28 February 2011

28th February 2011

      Once again it's monday evening, eastenders half hour... this week seems to have gone by so quickly! Next thing it'll be April fools day and we'll be wondering where March has gone, then May, etc, etc. Still, Ive been out walking, warming up more than normal, stretching, walking 5 miles though not too quickly, around 55 minutes, then extra warming down. A little pain from the knee and feeling a little creaky all over after doing nothing much for three weeks or so. Still, I've been cycling an hour a day into work and kept up the diet so I should be okay for the Nationals on Sunday. I'm only making up the numbers for the Yorkshire team, just hoping to finish in under two hours to get some race practise in and get a team result. I'm still mindful that pushing too far might damage the knee again and it's a long drive back from Coventry.

     My 5 mile circuit in Hull is pretty flat, although the lead up to the bridge over the River Hull is a gradual uphill for 500 metres, and back down the same distance on the other side. The arms swinging are as much part of a quick walk as the legs, they help like a pendulum, swinging opposite the legs and opposing the weight of the legs, to keep the centre of gravity as steady as possible. This goes some way to explain a wiggly race walk, as the steadier through the air the centre of gravity travels, the less strain is put on the leg muscles, and the smoother and easier the walking action. Uphill though, the steps are shorter with the arms lifted a little giving shorter arm swings, and downhill, the opposite, longer strides and lower arms. That's what my coach says anyway, and the River Hull bridge gives me a chance to practise this until I get back to the lakes.

     After the weekend another few days rest and then planning for the next big one, the Bradford Whit Walk in May, a tough 35km race, good preparation for the Parish, got a 3rd place from last year to defend. Mind you, I'm known now, so the competition will be tougher.

     Got to go now, Coronation Street's on.


Just an extra note, Holland and Barrett are having a half price sale on lots of products, including whey protein. Try the banana flavour, num num.

Friday, 25 February 2011

25th February 2011

       Countdown, four months to go.

       Once again the question of training has come up, when to start, how much to do, if the training is right. Different strokes for different folks is the only answer. It's the same for everyone, that everyone is different. What it all boils down to is mental attitude. You have to feel, when you toe the line on that sunny saturday morning way off in the future, that all your preparation has been right for you. If you are standing there with doubts and regrets running through your mind, then the hardest hurdle will not be the distance, the pain, the weather or the dreaded sloc, it will be your mind telling you that you are not going to do it.
        Everyone is different. Some have to start from scratch, no history of walking, no fitness or previous inclination to participate. A common theme is to get christmas and new year out of the way and start on january the second, where you find yourself plodding along a cold wet road, icy wind in your face and darkness setting in before your lunch has settled. For anyone starting out on six months training, this has got to be a setback. Others, take the prime example multiple finisher David Collister, don't bother, and just go out and do it again and again, with a respectable time every year. Commentary in the Sky programme a few years ago was spot on when they said his preperation for this years Parish is.... last years Parish!
         Whichever way you are inclined, it'll soon be getting warmer, light nights are coming in, and the television companies are doing their best to get us out of the house by mass producing cheap telly programmes not worth watching. And they invent sky+ for the few that are! It's time to get out, looking around for those of you on the Island  there are a growing number of meets where parish walkers can get together and walk in groups. The advantages are easy to see. Some walkers who have finished the parish before can pass on their own tips and hints. (Try and get someone who has finished the course to NOT talk about their own personal triumph!) and having a group of like minded people can only be good. If you can get a training partner all well and good. Whatever, if you can see and feel the results over time, it can only be good, developing a positive attitude on the day.
        We all have our doubts, I myself stand on the start line every year thinking I'm going to make a fool of myself. (just ask our Helen. She's my own personal mental motivator!) When you get going and see yourself doing well, then it'll be all worth while.

Happy Training!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

24th February 2011

          Had a busy day yesterday, my daughter's 16th birthday party. Hired a nightclub and had to stay to keep an eye on 150+ 16 year olds, DJ played their favourite music, (loud and fast beats, just a noise to me!) So, just a 5 mile walk round the block in the morning, then backwards and forwards all day with food and stuff, and a houseful of screaming girls for a few hours in the build up. I did make a teenage free cordon around the living room and sat with a cup of ginger tea watching telly. One minor setback, at least for me. I got up and danced with one of the records, tracks, or whatever they are called nowadays, banging rave music, or garage, whatever, I'm not up with the lingo, just to get in the photographs. Whilst "waving my hands in the air like I just don't care" I heard one of the girls say "Aww, look at that old man joining in with the real people. Isn't it cute when that happens?"
         Some things just make you feel old...

         I'm walking again, trying to do at least 5 miles a day at 5mph, knee in a compression bandage with deep heat, and locking the legs in a race walk style. The knee feels a little weak, and there is still a little pain, although nowhere near as much as there has been. It's 9 days until the national 10 miles in Coventry, and I'm hopeful to be at least taking part. My coach says we can have a training session in Fulstow in Lincolnshire on saturday as he's having a session with a couple of young lads in the team for next sunday, although I'm still not fully confident the knee is up to scratch for a 10k session and if it gives way it's a long way to drive back in pain, so probably giving it a miss to be sure. Deep down I'm still concentrating on the Parish and feel rushing back from an injury of this sort could bring on a much longer term injury. Maybe I'm being too careful, but that's probably the best choice.
         I suppose the only lesson I can pass on from all this is that, if you're serious about reaching your goal on June 26th, then you'll be putting in a lot of work in training. Prepare properly to avoid injury, build up strength and distance carefully if it's your first time, and always warm up and warm down. A sprain or hamstring a week before the race will be demoralising.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

22nd February 2011

       Gels and Lotions, part one.

             Had a day relaxing, after two weeks just cycling, last nights race walk left me feeling a little stiff in the muscles, so a days rest then another go tomorrow. Applying some creams and lotions which help, psychologically as well as physically. Some things are proven as effective, some offer aloe vera, camomile, lavender etc, which, at the very least, should make you smell like an old people's home as you plod through the night. There are anti chaffing creams, muscle rubs, heat and cold creams. Vaseline is good for chaffing but is oil based, so it can ruin clothes (my 2008 Hull City shirt has two oily patches on the nipple area which won't wash out!) and when smeared over the skin can stop sweat from escaping, which can cause the body temperature to rise and lose hydration.
 There are good ones on the market, I've used the bodyglide anti-chafe (above) during the last two Parish walks and it is effective. Google it for prices, about 7 quid including delivery. There is also the Natures Kiss anti-chafe (below, similar prices) which I also use, and it has added stuff that hippies burned in the sixties. It's not bad, does the job well, and is kind to clothes and skin.

              Part of the first aid kit and probably a good idea to be carried on long training walks should be an anti inflammatory such as Ibuleve cream, or Ibugel forte which is my personal choice, slightly stronger. These contain Ibuprofen so you should be careful if you're taking Ibuprofen tablets not to overdose.
          Deep Heat is good for warming up muscles (it does exactly what it says on the tin!) and allowing bloodflow to stiff muscles. 

         Feet. During the 2008 very very wet and windy Parish, I liberally coated my feet with vaseline to keep my feet dry, on the advice of a woman on manx radio who said it was going to be wet and suggested ways to keep the feet dry. this was good, and I did it for the last two years, although, as I said earlier, it is oil based, can cause overheating and stop the skin breathing. I now use Morgan Blue.

           It's like a jelly, but smell of hospitals. (Hospital flavoured jelly, pudding in an NHS hospital?) I used it for the End to End in september and it worked a treat. It's a medicated foot cooling gel developed for runners, helping to keep the feet cool, reduce swelling, so stop rubbing. Also, being medicated, helps prevent (only helps, doesn't completely prevent) blisters. A big tub lasts for ages! about 8 quid. I order all my stuff at once from, but if you ask at your local sports shop they may get it in stock for you.

         One last one for now, my favourite post training muscle rub, also from Nature's Kiss.
        there are many types of muscle rubs avaiilable, try a few out and pick your favourite.

        All in all, you probably need a first aid kit to keep all these things in. Later on I'll go through my first aid kit and itemize everything to give you some idea of what to carry. I've not even started on Savlon, sun cream, insect bite cream and all the other bits and pieces. It's a good job we're allowed to bring a back up vehicle or else we'd end up pushing wheelbarrows for the 85 miles!

    Till next time.


Monday, 21 February 2011

21st February 2011

      Eastenders is on again, and as I can't stand the stupid bunch of whining southern nancies and their insufferably badly written storylines (I'm a Corry fan myself, eastenders is a bunch of bad actors, Corry is gritty real life drama) It's a chance for me to pass half an hour on here. I would watch University Challenge, but Denise keeps spoiling it by shouting out the answers (lol) so I sky + that.

     I've been out for a walk today, on the advice of one of the coaches yesterday, packed deep heat into a compression bandage and strapped it around the knee before setting off on a few laps of a 2 mile route near to home. Shorts and a knee strapping on an injury, I should have been arrested for impersonating a proper athlete! But seriously, the short laps meant that if the injury broke down, I wouldn't have 5 miles to hobble home, I could stop and get home within minutes without doing any further damage and R.I.C.E as soon as possible.

R. Rest
I. Ice, to reduce swelling
C. Compression
E. Elevation.

  (Added later. In answer to the e-mail, elevate the injured body part above the heart so the blood has to travel uphill, gravity slows the blood down and it doesn't aggrevate the swelling on the injury further.)

     In the end it wasn't necessary, and I got a good 10 miles in just under two hours. Not over fast, but comfortable with no reaction to the knee apart from the little pain which was already there. Funnily enough it still hurts when I walk slower or put any twist on the knee, so it's not mended yet but at least it's getting there.

     Which brings us to injury prevention.
      This is not encyclopaedic, or complete, and anything forgotten will be added later, and if not, please let me know.
     First, equipment. Make sure it all fits. Not just shoes but all equipment. Don't buy anything especially for the race, it's not a fashion parade and five miles in if that fancy new sports top gives you irritating nipple chaffe, then you will regret it. Get at least two or three and try them all out in long walks. Also used socks, shorts, underwear, everything. All worn in and verified as comfortable.
     Training. The more distance training you do, the more able your body will be to stand up to the distance. Only walking long distances will toughen up the soles of the feet, and the same rules apply. Don't buy expensive shoe insoles and decide they are only good enough for the race. If your feet are used to the shoes, don't change them. And, most importantly, train at the same speed and in the same style you'll be walking in the race. Try and do something different on the day and you'll soon find out.
     Warm up. Before training and racing. Stretching, all over if possibly, including back, stomach arms and shoulders, as they are all used in walking, especially over hills. As for warming up itself, a mile or so walking at slower speeds so the muscles can get warm, i.e. start working and burning nutrients efficiently, blood vessels open up and let the blood flow easier. Heart rate builds up and starts clearing lactic acid. If you try and set off full speed straight away the cold muscles can cramp up and cause injury.
      Walk properly, don't push too far or fast, stretching muscles beyond their limits can cause damage. If you approach a junction whilst training and see a car coming, don't suddenly break into a sprint to keep ahead, using the wrong muscles in this way can easily pull or tear a muscle or ligament.
      Avoid walking on a camber, the lean and subsequent twist can hurt the muscles and joints, especially on a long walk. Also try and avoid quickly walking onto different surfaces, slick paving slabs fron tarmac, or even metal drain covers, especially in the rain, (thanks, Michael Bonney!) an unexpected slip can cause a twist or pull to any part of the leg, and as people will be walking long distances, a long walk back with a twisted ankle can be agony. Avoid going round corners too quickly. A 90 degree turn at full speed can put pressure on the knees and ankles, so slow down for corners.
      Keep hydrated. When dehydrated the mind wanders and you can lose concentration. When this happens you change style of walking which can result in blisters, twisted ankles or sprains
     And finally, warm down. Don't finish a 20 mile walk at full speed, rush into the house and fall asleep on a comfy chair. The body is still in athlete mode and can cramp up, and if it isn't given chance to warm down can lead to muscle injury. Walk slowly for the last mile and when you get home do a few more stretches.

      Got to go now, Coronation streets back on, and Dev's just revealed he stopped insuring the shop a week before a tram came through the roof. What's the chances of that happening!

     Tara for now.

  PS, Also learn from experience. For example, don't apply deep heat to your, say for example, knee, then rub your eye twenty minutes later without washing your hands. Not that I'd do that, oh no, I'm not that stupid. It, erm, happened to a  friend of mine. I forget his name. Said it stung for ages all the way through Coronation Street.


Sunday, 20 February 2011

20th February 2011

            I was at Dunnington, near York, today, for the North of England 10 miles championship. Unfortunately I was just watching, although the knee is feeling better, I now can't get rid of the limp! I had chats with the judges on the course and also mine, and other, coaches. Picked up a few tips and learned a few things. I also got a chance to watch some good north of England race walkers. The winner, despite having an unusual style that definitely wouldn't work for me finished in just over 78 minutes. He is training for the 50k though, is very fast, and has been ahead of me in a few races this winter. Myself, I would have been happy to finish in 95 minutes, which would have got me a decent place.
          I just wanted to get out there and race though...

         Psychologically, my brain and body is scared that if I put any weight on it, it'll collapse underneath me and I'll be out for months. That's why I can't speed up and do a race walk in training, or even a normal walk without a slight limp, which comes from me not wanting to put any weight on and therefore favouring my left leg. That's what I was told anyway. I'm off out for a walk in the morning, I have a good support bandage for my right knee, and if all goes well, then a few more days of "see how it goes".  Over two weeks of rest should have done the trick.
        The Nationals are on 6th March, in Coventry, and my coach wants me to be the fourth for Yorkshire, so I have something to work towards, and I'll know more after tomorrow.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

19th Februaury 2011

          Finished work yesterday and have a week off, although still feeling the knee. So, it's catch up time on other tasks, maybe visit the gym a couple of times, have a go at the garden, it's been neglected a bit over the past year.
Last job yesterday, 72,000 ton Chemtrans Sea passes Spurn Point, inwards towards Immingham.

          The knee has been generating heat, feeling warm to the touch which is a good thing, means its healing itself, as the blood carries vital properties to the area and fix the problem. I'm adding heat packs to it again, to aid the healing process. In injuries like this, it's vital when it first occurs to apply ice packs, as the initial stages of the injury involve swelling which the cold packs help reduce. After the swelling has eased though, heat packs help open the capilliaries and allow the blood to circulate freely and bring vital proteins which assist in healing. So cold to reduce swelling initially, and heat when the swelling has gone to assist healing.
         Oh, and plenty of protein, so daily protein shakes.
         It's feeling better, the pain easing and I'm walking a little more freely, but it's a way to go yet. I was down for a ten mile race at Dunnington near York, tomorrow, I'll probably still go to cheer the others on, and have a chat with my coach to get any helpful tips on healing dicky knees. Meanwhile, more importantly, away to Ipswich today, following the Tigers on their push for promotion. It's a big test today, Ipswich are on a good run since changing managers, so it'll be a tough test.


Friday, 18 February 2011

18th February 2011

           A frustrating time ahead. I've just got to do a job tomorrow afternoon, then I'm off until after next weekend. Normally it's a time to make a few butties and fill a flask and head off into the Yorkshire Dales for a few miles of contemplation, sightseeing and extreme exercise, but now that I have to rest and just flex the knee for a few miles a day, then I'm afraid it's going to be more blogging, so be prepared for some blather on here!
          I suppose it's a good chance to go over preparation, what to put in the car before you set off. I've had a few times of panic, me walking and asking my support crew, "what do you mean, there are no ginger nuts in the back.... I want one now!" There are things you need, want, fancy when hours into a race, and essentials, which, as their name implies, are essential. And also a chance to go over what to eat and drink over the 85 miles. As I've said before, it's all pretty much personal. Some people can eat solids, some liqiuids, some can sit down for a three course meal at Jurby before carrying on, each to there own, but I can explain the scientific need for food and drink so can help you plan with some degree what is a good idea and what's bad. I suppose for anyone reading and planning, my dodgy knee will be helpful. I'm personally passing through a phase of wondering if my knee will ever get better, so it's a bad time for me. I'm supposed to be back in the Lakes in a couple of weeks and if I can't walk, then it's months sat in a flat looking at mountains I can't climb. Depressing.
        Still, there are four months, nearer six to the Roubaix, so hopefully knees will fix themselves and I'll be running up Scafell Pike before the months out. Whatever, I'll be on the Island for the Parish, participating or not. I'll also keep  up the blog. If I can help just one person over the line then it'll be worth it.

       Happy Training, (Grrrrr.....)

Thursday, 17 February 2011

17th February 2011

        So frustrating, walked 8 miles today, but couldn't push on and do a race walk. knee kept hurting. It's getting better but the sun was out and I wanted to enjoy my walk but I had to hold back and let people pass me. When people pass me then it's not fun. Let's see what tomorrow will bring.
       Grrrr, stupid knee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

15th February 2011, reply to response.

Starting training in March

       At the moment I'm concentrating on developing my race walk, and taking part in 10k's, so most of the training is speed and style for shorter races. It's not as if I'm lying on the couch eating pies and looking at my cobweb covered trainers saying, maybe I'll start next week... I've kept up the walking over the winter so have the underlying fitness as well. After the National 10 miles I will have a short rest, then back to the Lakes for long distance training. It's not starting training I'll be doing, just changing styles of training, distance and endurance rather than sprinting and Cardio. I'll be out pretty much every day as well, so to start too early will probably lead to burn out. I started January last year and probably peaked too soon, and keeping a high level of fitness over a long periods of time rather than peaking and troughing leads to more injuries. The University advised me that the fitness levels need to come down regularly to allow the body to repair and recover.  Maybe having to rest with a knee injury is a help rather than a hindrance. I find it difficult not to get out walking every day.
By all means, January is fine, but most people don't train every day, maybe a couple of times a week. I get out every day, 20 miles regularly rather than rarely, so reaching a peak doesn't take too long.
      I've also still got a lot of mountains to climb. Why? Apparently, "because they're there!"

15th February 2011

            Feeling a bit down. It turns out I have a minor (grade 1) strain of the Medial Collateral Ligament, the one on the inside of the knee, which means no training or racing for a while and next weeks 10 miler in Dunnington is now doubtful, and these things can either clear up or linger on depending on how I push my knee. Back in the old days when I was a couch potato, injury was never a problem, apart from the back... getting it off the couch! I didn't have "hamstrings" or "ligaments", now they niggle or strain and give you gyp. On the positive side, a couple of weeks rest for the rest of the muscles, and still 4 months to the Parish. Plenty of time, I hope. I was going to start my Parish training mid March, so the next couple of weeks can be make or break. Still, time to research joint injuries and pass on what is to be learned.
          Hopefully, I can be right for the National 10 miler in Coventry in mid March, a statement I would have laughed at only recently but now am a little worried about. Still, anyone out there who thinks finishing the Parish is a far flung dream, let me tell you, if I can do it, me who is just an average Joe, a non athletic try hard middle of the road person, can not only finish, but finish well, then anyone can. Just remember that when your mid training, flogging up a difficult hill, wondering if it's all worth while, then give just a little more, because it's all worth while.
          My four trophy's are all on a shelf above my telly, and a glance at them always lifts the hairs on the back of my neck, bring back great memories and make me smile a little. They are amongst my most treasured possesions.

       Happy training, (he typed, a little jealously....)

Monday, 14 February 2011

14th February 2011

           Having a moment of clarity, just finished work at 5am on valentines day. My coach has said that with the progress I'm making, I can win the Parish. A few people have e-mailed me and said that if there was betting on the race that they would put a couple of quid on me as an outside chance. My father says that his friends have all said I'm a good bet. All in all, that puts pressure on. Big style. I know, after all the sports I have tried, I've finally found one I'm reasonably good at, even it is a minority sport with no rewards. (Why didn't I try harder at football when I was younger instead of wasting my time passing exams. I could be on a quarter mill a week!!!!!!!!) I just enjoy it, the build up, training, and the satisfaction of finally achieving something I can be proud of years in the future when I'm in my dotage, reflecting on what I've achieved while the nurse is cleaning me up.
         What really matters is personal, reaching my own goals. I still think many will finish better this year, Jock will be hard to beat, that's a given. Michael George will be close to top three, Vinny will improve, an outsider will pop up from nowhere, Richard Gerrard, who I walked most of the way with for a good third place in the end to end and had a magnificent 4th last year, is still very young and has a few wins to come and will do well, and apologies to all who will improve and I haven't mentioned yet. Predictions? It's a little early, maybe too early, yet I hope for a same day finish, under 16 hours, before midnight on Saturday night, which will see me happy. Still, the way things are going, there will be a fair few finishing the same day, conditions permitting, and a same day finish will not necessarily see me improve on 6th from last year. I suppose that's my self doubt kicking in. Still, I've got to be positive, might not even make the finish, it's a long race and we have to be realistic.
          If it all pans out like this, as I think it will, then it will be a magnificent race and one to be proud of taking part. A great advert for a truly world class race, and one that will make the 50th anniversary race one tto remember. Whatever happens, good luck to everyone, and if you haven't entered yet but are thinking of doing so, do it now.
         Let's make it a day, (sorry, 2 days, getting ahead of myself there... ) to remember.

        I actually forgot it was Valentine's day, I was only reminded by the Captain of the tanker I sailed tonight. A last minute panic, but I've managed to book a table for tonight. I don't think it'll turn out well though, apparently she doesn't play snooker...

Friday, 11 February 2011

11th February 2011


       I've not been walking for the past few days, busy at work for one thing. I also have some sort of niggling knee injury which appeared after last sundays race. I woke on monday morning with soreness around the front left of my right knee, no swelling, but pain when i put my foot down and push through, causing a slight limp. So, rest and let it get better which it is doing slowly. It's not hurting enough to require pain killers, just niggly, but that brings me to the subject of pain.

       As I said in an earlier blog, anyone who is looking to complete the Parish, or indeed, anyone walking at all for any distance, will suffer some sort of pain. Whether it in muscular, nervous system, or in the joints, dictate what pain killers are required. My sister is a pharmacist and helps me out with this. Firstly, there are several types of pain, and different ways of combating them. The ones we are interested in are;-

1. Somatic or Nociceptive pain.
       This is from pain receptors in the skin, muscles and bones, and are the bodies defense system against heat, cold, and injury. Burns, cuts, bruises and what we are worried about, blisters and muscular pain caused by oxygen deprivation or strains. These are usually treated with paracetamol, weak or strong opioids, depending on severity. My choice when walking long distances is co-codamol, a mixture of paracetamol and codeine and slightly stronger than these ingredients alone, although I try and avoid pain killers normally, trying to find alternatives or find out why there is pain in the first place. Pain killers such as these cause stomach upset as they attack the stomach wall so eat something first.

2. Neuropathic pain.

      This is cause by damage or tension on the nervous system, and can result in pain being felt in places that differ from where the damage is. I have recently had what I thought was a hamstring problem which turned out to be knotted muscles in the buttock pressing against the sciatic nerve. This pain won't be in one particular place, but will travel along the path of the affected nerve. Regular sports massage and chiropractic manipulation can help here.

3 Swelling.

      With extreme exercise comes swelling, probably around the muscles and joints and in lower extremities of the body. An anti inflammatory such as ibuprofen from the painkiller group known as NSAIDS can help reduce swelling and the pain associated with it. These work by stopping the production of substances that cause pain, fever and inflammattion and can be mixed with receptor pain killers to attack pain from different directions. I normally take a single co-codamol with an ibuprofen capsule at four hourly intervals, which seems to work for me.

       Ideally, you should take what's best for you, what you're comfortable with, and what your body seems to accept. Don't try new painkillers during the race, extreme exercise causes extreme reactions. Always ask a pharmacist or doctor what can and can't be taken and mixed, and don't go over the stated dose, even if your circulation is clearing taken painkillers from your system much quicker than is normal into the race. If a painkiller isn't working, then try a different type. There is also the placebo effect. If you have a headache and someone gives you a smartie (there are other types of chocolate treats available...) warning you that it is the strongest painkiller available over the counter, then there is a good chance it'll work. A, because auto suggestion makes you believe it'll work, and B, because it's chocolate, and as I spoke of earlier, chocolate creates endorphins, natural pain relief.

       Don't forget natural pain relief, as I blogged earlier, ginger can reduce swelling, upset stomach and ease digestive problems. Liquorice has strong anti inflammatory effects. garlic and Gingko Biloba greatly improve circulation and the bloodstream which helps pain releif get to the pain area. And, most of all, water. Dehydration is one of the greatest causes of pain as it effects the body in unusual ways, so plenty of liquids, and try and avoid caffeine which is a diuretic.

       Always try and find out where and why you have pain. Sore feet, muscles etc are normal from walking long distances, but unusual localised pain is symptomatic of possibly an unusual injury and can be aggravated by continued walking, so make sure you know where the pain is coming from before continuing.
       As always, all iv'e written is what I've found and researched on my own, so if anyone has any suggstions or coorrections to my writing, please feel free to cantact and correct me, or if you have any other experiences, please let me know. I'm always open to new ideas and explanations.

      One final way of dealing with pain, man it out, grin and bear it. Now, pass the first aid box please...




Tuesday, 8 February 2011

8th February 2010

         There is a sort of appeal on the facebook parish walk page asking for people to help during the race. It seems that there are walkers "from over" who want to take part but hold back after reading the rule about having an escort vehicle after Peel. I have an added interest in this, if it wasn't for Pauline, my support crew chief, I wouldn't have been able to take part in the last two Parishes or End to Ends, Helen looked after me for my first two, but then caught the "taking part" bug and left me worrying for the 2009 when I'd entered and was left not knowing what was going to happen. Helen asked the other mums at the school gate and Pauline shrugged and said, okay, it's something different, might be a laugh. (I wasn't there, this is just artistic license on my script writing.) Anyway, the end result was I apprehensively met my support crew two days before the race, it could have gone any number of ways, but now we're close friends who have shared a great many experiences which have given us many things to tell our grandchildren years from now when were sat in our respective care homes during our weekly family visits.
          In the end though, the race is not just about the competitors. If it was it wouldn't be a race, just a lot of people going for a long walk. The Parish is growing each year, and it has the potential to be a big international event, already viewers of Sky Sports tune in every year, and it is known about the European walking circuit as one of the biggest tests a walker can attempt. But it needs helpers, whether it is support crew, marshalls, staff at churches and feeding stations and the many number of volunteers which keep the race going and building into the Island's second biggest sporting event after the TT races, (sorry if I upset anyone organizing other big events, this is not just my opinion...) Half the people on the Island at some point get out and watch the walkers passing which makes it as well attended by spectators as a Premiership football match.
         So, even if you don't want to actually walk you can still take part and do a vital job to help the island build on it's massive sporting heritage. Or if you know anyone, give them a nudge and mention it. Whatever, it'll give you something to talk about at work on the monday afterwards and help a lot of keen athletes achieve their goal. Help to make it a truly international event. If you want to help, at the moment there is the website,  and click on the organising link, and you will find links to people who can help. Also, the facebook page, is currently building pace and can give hints. If there is interest out there for someone who wants to spend the night looking after someone going for a long walk in the dark, then I'm sure things can be organized, possibly a database. Who knows, you will meet new people, take part in something different, and might even enjoy it. Just ask my support crew chief!

Monday, 7 February 2011

7th February 2010

       Good Morning.

      Back in Hull, monday morning, windy and wet, and not too difficult today to take a rest day. Four days on the Island and I didn't get half the things done that I set out to do. Sorry to anyone who I didn't get round to seeing, and there were a few, and hello to the many "new" people I met, it seems there are many people with this years Parish in mind. 50 years is a great milestone, and if the organizers get the target start list of 2,011 entrants, it'll look promising for another 50 years. Looking at Murray's list of people who have already entered, it's remarkable how many of the entrants are giving it a go for the first time. I spoke to a few people who declared an interest but hadn't taken part yet, and the main response seemed to be "I would, but I'm worried about....." before coming out with an unsubstantiated fear based on old stories or some gossip from someone who knew someone who had such and such happen and couldn't walk again, or was crippled for life. If the trainings done properly, and the correct equipment is used, there are no lasting effects, and you are just left with memories and probably new friends met along the way, as well as a new outlook on your own fitness. If in doubt, give it a go.

      The final Yorkshire winter season 10k yesterday (sunday) was a difficult affair, all competitors complaining of the conditions. The course was triangular, with a good climb up one side, unfortunately this was the side where the wind was behind, then turn the corner, and the longest side was against the near gale, with the other side having a cross wind which made race walking difficult. Got 60.24 myself, when all walkers were a good few minutes down on their regular 10k times, so I'm quite pleased. 4th out of 20 something, with some quick young athletes from Redcar and Yorkshire. 10k's over now, but the northern 10 mile in Dunnington in 3 weeks, and in the Yorkshire team for the National 10 miles in Coventry near the end of March... Just making up the numbers on that one!
      I took a new tack yesterday. Normally I try and keep up with the leaders from the start which leaves me struggling at the end. Call it inexperience, but it is the wrong thing to do. Yesterday, with the Garmin, I kept to 10min 30sec miles for the first couple of laps, slowly dropping down, feeling burn in the shins and the quads slowly easing as the race went on. At 5km, up the pace a bit. I had dropped to 7th and was worried if I was doing it all wrong. Picking up the pace though, I built up to 9m 30s miles, then in the last mile an 8 min 25s mile, which I hadn't done before! And instead of being exhausted, I could have gone on for another 10k, and spent the last lap picking off the places. Still not an official 10k under 60 mins, but my coach said it was a good walk, the style was smooth, and I looked comfortable. The most important thing, which I can pass on, is to warm up. Last week with my sports masseur, and after this race, I have tried to be more rigorous with my warm up. Stretching all muscles, and I'll go through them later on in the blog, is most important. And whether it's a race or just training, start slowly, don't put any strain on the muscles, and build up to your speed. It helps avoid injury as muscles that are cold can strain much easier.
       Stretch, warm up, train, warm down (the last mile of your training at a slower pace) stretch.

       One other tip to pass on, another coach was present, one who watched with my coach, and he noticed my style uphill and downhill. It hardly changed, something that can cause pain in the legs if you're pushing. If going uphill, shorten the stride and lift the arms higher. Slow the pace a little to save energy, reduces muscular lactic acid, and aids recovery time. Downhill, lengthen the stride a little and lower the arms and try to roll into the stride. Increase the pace to take advantage of gravity. Gravity is free and available at all good downhill sections of the Parish course.

       At least one of the competitors yesterday was already entered for the Parish, (I was wearing my "parish walk" baseball cap) he declared himself a little wary, although he was doing it for his father who had done the TT course walk and wanted to visit old walking grounds. Spoke to a couple of Centurions present, who also waxed lyrical about the TT course walk in the past. Why isn't it done any more? I would love to tick off the TT course from my list of things to do. All agreed it was fun, as is all walking on the Island, and agreed that the climb up the mountain out of Ramsey was the toughrest part of any walk they had ever done! Maybe I'll have to come across whenthe days are longer and do it on my own.

      I have to go now, I have a long day drinking tea and emptying my sky+ box of the weekends programmes. And I have to analyze my walks on the island of the last few days. Over 40 miles, mostly on Hills, gotta be pleased with that!

An extract from the National Academy of Sciences reiterating my point from a previous post:-

Walking a couple of times a week can help you in later life...

Recent research has suggested that walking for around 40 minutes a couple of times a week is enough to keep ageing brains sharp.
After a yearlong trial with 120 volunteers, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it has been proven that moderate exercise increased the size of the hippocampus – the area of the brain which makes memories.
This is a real breakthrough with around 820,000 people in the UK suffering with dementia and that figure is set to double by 2030. This latest work looked at healthy people in their 60’s and demonstrated how exercise may provide a buffer against the illness, as well as aged related memory loss. Experts have reiterated that until a cure is discovered, finding cheap and easy ways to reverse the trend is imperative.
No matter what age you are, this form of exercise is vital now and in the future.

Friday, 4 February 2011

4th February 2011

              A god training session this morning, although windy and drizzly, got down to Rushen Church by 10am, having to go via douglas first, but was sufficiently warmed up and set off trying to keep a moderate but steady pace. The Garmin did it's job wonderfully, and I was able to keep to steady 11 minute miles pretty much all the way. 10k came up at 63.25mins, which was a great boost as it was mostly uphill for that, possibly one of the toughest 10k's to do! It dropped in after the round table just near the rushen plantation, with some tail winds, and also some head winds with the unusual way the hills and valleys funnel the onshore gales.
       Anyway, 13.08 miles, from church to Peel Town Hall, (including the small diversion for Patrick church, was going to go direct, but when I saw the phone box I felt it wouldn't be right.) in 2 hours 27 minutes, 5.3mph, a good time for some tough uphills, and now I have it in my gps it will come up next time and let me push on and beat it. Feeling a few minor aches and pains as well, which is a good thing, as it means I'm benefitting from it. The Sciatic/hamstring was most noticable by it's abscence, which means hopefully that Dawne's massaging and stretching has done the trick. I'm going home feeling much better mentally, with the end of the hamstring pain which at times worried me that it might be something permanent, and with the good training times on which to build. I've also dropped a few pounds which is an added bonus as I'm now close to my Parish weight of last year, and still have a few pounds I can lose.
     All in all a good trip, very worthwhile.

     Bumped into a couple of people on the sloc. Tony, who I dropped in beside and was worried about his speed, was doing 14 minute miles which is good for uphill, over 4mph, and should be more confident. Another entrant? I hope so.
     Also the chap who I spotted from the top of Ballikillowey and gave me something to catch up to, and just as I cought him at the sloc turn itself, decided it was too windy and turned back down. Have another go.

     Many thanks also to the car drivers who helpfully slowed down without impatience and often a smile, and the ones who bibbed their horns and waved. I take it as a sign of welcome and encouragement, something you don't see as much of on the mainland and which gives the Island it's uniqueness. Anyone out there who's driving and sees someone training in the wilds, possibly looking a little rough, try giving a beep and a thumbs up. All encouragement is good and could gee someone up into doing that extra bit.

      I was going to finish off my training walk week with a 10 mile Western 10 in the morning, but as I have a 10k on sunday morning, after todays ehxertions, maybe just rest from now, with a few stretches to help ease the muscles.


Thursday, 3 February 2011

3rd February 2010

          It's been a hectic couple of days. Arrived tuesday, a quick dinner at Papparazzi's on Douglas front, then across to Peel. Out with friends and unfortunately didn't roll in until nearly 2am, so the plan to get up early and put in a quick western 10 before my 11am massage was hastily changed. it was windy and raining so down to a quick 5 mile warm up, (in the wind, a great hangover cure) then off to see Dawne to get all the knots and kinks out. She quickly found the cause of my hamstring pain as a badly knotted muscle which she told me the name of and I immediately forgot, which was pressing againstthe sciatic nerve in the right buttock, and manifesting itself as hamstring pain. Lots of twisting and pain, but it seems to have eased greatly. It shows the importance of stretching if you're out walking any kinds of distance, pre and post stretching keeps you flexible and gives more protection against injuries.
        Back for a quick lunch, and lots of water, then it was Peel to Douglas, 10.5 miles, pushed on and completed in 1hr 59m, with no sciatic reaction.

Saw this approaching Ballacraine from the north, the Island must have some quick horses if they have to be restricted to 60mph!
            In the evening it was off to the Welbeck for a bite to eat with Bernie, and finally get rid of her trophy I'd been carrying around for 5 days! It had a big lump of marble and was quite a weight, but she was pleased to recieve it, and manx radio were there for an interview, which will be aired on 23rd February at 6.05pm. Just Bernie and myself (mainly myself, I'm afraid, Guinness tends to loosen my tongue!) waffling on for ten minutes or so.

          At the moment it's severe gales and lashing rain, and I have the morning free, so off to Rushen to do the sloc sounds like it might not happen, although if the wind stays from the south west It'll be behind me so just wrap up and enjoy it. I don't like the wind because it blows around my ears and so I can't hear my MP3 player.

          Anyway, off out again, a couple of the pubs in Peel have sent out an appeal because the bars are in danger of collapsing, so they need some lads to go and prop them up... That's my excuse anyway.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

1st February 2010

        Parish Walk 2008.
     I’m writing this on the Isle of Man Ferry, we’ve just let go and are steaming down the channel out to the Irish Sea. Like most people are in cars, on board ship I’m not a good back seat passenger; I keep looking out of the window and wondering whether the officer on watch has seen that fishing boat on the starboard bow, if he knows what the safe speed is, if the lookout is really looking out or is just staring into space wondering what’s for dinner, (like I used to when I was a lookout… the most boring job in the world. 8 hours a day, looking out and telling the officer what you see, usually nothing!) Whatever, the skipper of the Ben My Chree won’t let me have a go…
      Anyway, as I’m enjoying steam packets sumptuous hospitality, I’ve had my butties and flask of coffee and read my Hull Daily Mail, (Ian Ashbee, Hull City’s influential Captain for 9 years has gone to Preston North End) and of the 3 hour 30 minute trip, I now have 3 hours 27 minutes before docking so I’m going to recall what I can of the 2008 Parish.
     It was wet. And windy.
    That’s about it really, sums it up in a few words. I don’t recall too much about my second Parish, The wariness and nervous tension of the first one was greatly reduced, and my number was down from 674 to 74, a jump of 600 places in the seedings. Not really, above the finishers it is just about alphabetical order. Nevertheless, I wore my two figure number with pride, as it meant I was one of the 150 or so previous finishers out of the 1500 starters.
    The radio was on and reports of the approaching rain was coming through, it was going to be a wet one, so I covered my feet in a whole tub of Vaseline before squidgeing my socks and trainers on, and Helen dropped me off at the start before going off to work. Once again she was working for the morning, leaving at 12 then coming to find me. There are enough feeding stations along the way to Peel for most people, if more than 1700 people start this year and 1700 support crew are stopping every 200 yards, then it will get pretty hectic. Helen finished work and waited for me at the round table, checked I was okay, then nipped off home to Peel to eat and get ready for the long afternoon and night ahead. I had brought my daughter, Lauren, along with me this time, she was 14 and a normal teenager so had to be roused from her pit at noon, but then she was up and raring to go.
      The start was fine, and for the first two hours, broken cloud with occasional sunshine tried to make a liar of the weather forecasters, but approaching Ballasalla the hope ended and the skies opened. Watching it later on Sky, the cameras captured the mood well, the wettest day for years with the rain bouncing off the tarmac and running in rivers down the road. Still, it was just another obstacle, and barely brought down the mood on the hardy walkers. The most annoying thing was the motorists who thought it was funny to drive through puddles to splash walkers with dirty puddle water for their own amusement. Or am I being paranoid in thinking they were only doing it to me? I got caught a couple of times by these idiots.
     One problem I had halfway up the Sloc. I was taking banana’s at most of the stops, vital energy food and useful, I thought. I only had half a dozen and ended up with stomach cramps which left me doubled up for a good ten minutes… which seemed so much longer. A lesson learned. A varied diet was necessary. You can’t just survive on your favourite food.
      The rains strengthened and were joined by gale force winds which seemed to be in your face whichever direction you walked. I had adidas leggings and Hull City’s home shirt on (amber with black trim, the “Wembley” strip) and was soon soaked to the skin, and it was a case of, I’m wet through, it can’t get any worse, so keep going. It wasn’t until closer to Peel that I could change into drier gear.
Somewhere in the north, Lauren in support crew mode, waterproofs on!

           After Bride the rain eased, (although it didn’t stop) and I took another chance to change to dry gear. Unfortunately I forget to put my spare socks in the car. Lesson 2 (at least!) of the day. A checklist of everything you need to pack. And check the list! That’s why it’s called a checklist. With hindsight and experience I now have separate boxes for clothes (wet and dry, cool and warm) food and drink, and a fully stocked first aid kit. All vastly overstocked, to avoid coming anywhere near to running out of anything. Two things happened there, One, as I thought I was about to put on clean dry socks into dry spare trainers, I now had to put dirty wet socks back onto my dried feet which was one of the most miserable feelings after such a long time and the high expectancy of the promised comfort. And two, I asked Helen to drive back to Peel and get my spare socks, which as she is one of the nicest people I know, she did. Without complaining. I still haven’t apologised for making her do this, and would like to thank her publicly now. And apologize for being an arse.
       By this time my heel blister on my right foot which hadn’t healed properly from the year before had opened up again to make a gooey mess inside the back of my right shoe, it was late at night, around Ramsey, and it was painful again, but as Helen was off on a sock mission, I had no choice but to carry on.  The usual jovial local reception at Maughold was missing due to the severe weather, and the stomp up to the Hibernian was dreary although one symptom of the rain was that no one suffered de-hydration! It was during a bad patch after Maughold that I was caught up by Michael Bonney, who I had walked with some of the way the previous year, he had finished just before me in 2007 and was sporting number 72, which was how I recognized him. Falling into line we talked through Lonan and over the next 3 or 4 hours onto the finish in the rain, sharing support, (he had a supply of jaffa cakes which I hadn’t thought of, and now carry) and avoiding wet manhole covers in case of slipping, in the tired state a slip on a wet metal drain cover could spell the end of the race with a groin strain, twisted ankle or other finishing injury. We finished with a joint time of 20 hours 7 minutes, over an hour and a half off my personal best, but vowing for a third one because the mental target now was under 20 hours, that is, a time starting with a 1. It was annoying that we were only 7 minutes outside this time. I’d also like to take this opportunity to say thanks to Michael Bonney who has so much more computer knowledge than me, because he regularly sends me excel files detailing time splits between churches, speeds, averages, and so much more after every Parish. Vital in planning for future walks. Also, at this stage our statistics were, done 2, finished 2, and our average time for 170 miles was less than a minute apart, with Michael won 1, drew 1, lost nil…. He was 1-0 up. Time to plan for the equalizer!
With Michael Bonney at the finish, a chance to get out of the rain!

      The second Parish was just as good as the first, added to it the knowledge that I could complete the race, and knew what pain was to be expected. The first one was into the unknown, all the time wondering if it was possible and not really believing until after the last of the tough climbs, up to the Hibernian, with only 15 miles to go (I know I said only, it’s a figure of speech. When you’ve done 70miles, 15 miles deserves an “only”) that you know you’re going to make it. The first year I walked over the line uttering the Parish finishers mantra “never again” This year as I passed over the line to complete my second, I was already planning my third.
      One side point before I put away the ink and quills, I read a report this morning that regular exercise can delay the effects of old age, mainly Alzheimer’s and other age affected illnesses. Tests show that people who walk half an hour a day had a growth in the hippocampus, the part of the brain which helps memory and logical thinking. Another reason to dust off the trainers and get out there, even if it’s just to Rushen or Peel. It has been scientifically proved to make you brainier and vastly improves logic and especially memory!
I forget where I read it though…

Sayonara Dudes!

With Lauren at the finish. Still sporting more than one chin, I still had a couple of pounds to lose!