One night in Richmond makes a hard man humble

Well, a day is a long time in my life. I heard that one of my friends from the Wight Challenge last time round will be unable to repeat the feat this year due to an illness and suddenly I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I also received my start time of 9:20am in Richmond on the Saturday and that is focussing the mind a little now. Information on the event is now packed into the participant area of the London2Brighton website: and I have ordered an event hoodie – hopefully not quite as bright pink as it looks here (though it would ensure that they won’t lose me in the middle of the night!): L2b 2016 Hoodie

Two days possible walking in the forthcoming long weekend and suddenly the world is a more positive place. Cricket on Saturday, walking on Sunday and Monday, sounds like a plan to me. However, with mood swings aplenty, it might all look impossible once again tomorrow.

Accommodation booked for me, one night in Richmond (a flop single for Murray Head prior to his only hit), and two nights in Brighton (Friday and Saturday night) for Pammy, who on Sunday will then mop up the mess that is me and transport it back home. One very small fly in the ointment, but one that I am wishing for, is the now quite possible appearance of Portsmouth in the League Two Play Off Final at Wembley on the Monday. Quite how I would be able to drag my body and feet back to London, albeit on the train rather than entirely on foot, is something I might have to get my head round. But at least I have the rest of that week to recover. Exciting times, but no doubt at some point in time between now and Saturday 28 May, I will be hating life and dreading the whole thing.

One night in Richmond makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Richmond and the tough guys tumble
Can’t be too careful with your company
I can feel the Devil walking next to me


Injury and the blockhead

Quite a few twitches and twinges in the Achilles in the last few days and it is becoming worrying with London2Brighton only five weeks away now. But what is more worrying is the lack of motivation and anticipation of going for a walk this weekend. The cancellation of cricket yesterday gave the perfect opportunity to get two walks in in order to build the fitness back up to a reasonable level, but actually I was only too happy to have the excuse of going round a few shops with Pammy. That was pleasant enough and took up most of the afternoon.

Even today, I approached the possibility of a short walk with some dread and trepidation. It made me wonder where the drive and motivation has gone, how I ever had that for the long walk two years ago, and even last year to build up a really high level of fitness at around this time of year. A bigger picture view tells me that walking has helped me immensely to drive away some daemons and give me a more positive view of life, and so a current lack of motivation is worrying me and, in turn, making me even more negative about the situation in front of me. This morning, I questioned whether I really want to do the event at the end of May and pondered whether the Achilles would be a good excuse not to even start. The fact that I did question this at least tells me that, deep down, I know I should try my best to get to the start line and, once there, do my very very best to finish.

I accepted that I wasn’t likely to be the life and soul of my own personal walking party this afternoon and, true to form, I never felt entirely relaxed and found myself irritated at anything to which I turned my mind. And when I am not feeling especially positive, I am more likely to feel a bit of tiredness, stiffness or aches, and to an extent that was true today, until I picked up a snack near the end. At least I was able to increase the distance from last week’s 7.5 miles to a touch over 11 miles, so there is some redeeming feature to today, as well as no apparent recurrence of Achilles pain.

To have any real chance of doing and completing this event, I am going to need to work back up to 20+ miles at the very least about a fortnight beforehand. That still feels a little way away. I’m due to receive a start time and other details any day now so perhaps that will focus my mind and recalibrate my brain into positive mode.

No frills

After a couple of weeks, I was back on the road today. No frills, just 7.5 miles. Glad to be back, and apparently no problems. Felt a bit stiff and leggy in the first mile but I soon settled down to a steady pace; I felt I could probably have done more but I will leave that until next weekend. The worst thing I could do now is to overdo it and set myself back so far that it’s unrecoverable for 6 weeks time. Yes, only 6 weeks now.

I took some time to read up on walking in general. Some interesting articles on this website in particular. I have also been a member of what feels like a support group for people undertaking London2Brighton, some walking, some running. It feels like everyone has been injured at some time or another. The general feeling is that there is little need to overdo it in the last month or so, just get a 20-25 mile walk or two under your belt and maintain a decent level of fitness thereafter. Notwithstanding my injury last year, these challenges are as large a mental as a physical challenge. I just need to convince myself I can do it. I thought I had done that ‘convincing myself’ thing three weeks ago but there is still a bit of work to do. Let’s see how I feel tomorrow morning – if I can’t do even this short walk without a reaction then I should be getting a little concerned.

As people are becoming aware of my walk at the end of May, a few are asking me how they can sponsor me. I am actually self-funding this time – I have raised a fair amount in the past and I didn’t feel I could ask people again. Secondly, this walk is really to make up for my failure to finish the Wight Challenge last year – and to properly earn the sponsorship I raised that time. If anyone does feel they really want to donate, then my friend from cricket, Martin Lander, is walking in aid of MacMillan Cancer Support, who gave his mother loads of support in her final few months.

The English Impatient

Well the outlook is unclear. Although the pain in my Achilles has eased, it is still causing discomfort at times, especially when climbing or descending stairs or when standing up after sitting down for more than a few minutes. It isn’t conducive to productivity at work to keep standing up and walking about too often and I have to just grin and bear the odd twinge.

When I will be able to recommence any serious walking training is not certain. I am not sleeping great at present and have woken up a few times having twisted slightly and with slight pains. I should say that this is not excruciating at all, but nagging just sufficiently enough to remind me that I do have an injury. At least the blister is not any sort of problem now.

I am waiting until I have at least four or five completely pain-free days before thinking of the road or anywhere else walkable. There are seven weeks and two days until the start of London2Brighton which is getting close. I am already wondering if I will be ready but I have at least the comfort that I am self-funding and therefore no obligations to people who have sponsored me. It is getting me down a bit but I cannot afford to rush back and hurt myself again. I am OK in walking 15-20 miles in the new boots but not confident yet in longer distances without damaging myself. If push came to shove, it is possible for me to use some running shoes that have very good support (and are well worn in). Not ideal but a workable fallback plan.

So, for the moment, that is it. It is frustrating to start receiving reminder emails from the organisers that we should be getting fit and in training when that is really what I would love to be doing. Furthermore, there is a very active social media group with competitors posting how many miles they have walked or run in training. Me, I am just waiting to get better, very impatiently…….

The Pain is over

After a poor night’s sleep, I probably pushed it too much today. I wanted just a short walk to warm down after yesterday but you need to know your limitations. In the past I have walked on 8 days in a row (Inverness to John O’Groats, around 120 miles) but I was in great condition then in boots well worn in. Today was the 6th in a row in new boots and by around 6 miles I could feel my left heel aching.

I did ultimately manage 13 miles, about as intended, and with a nice blister on said heel. Anyone who saw me both today and yesterday would have noticed the difference as I sauntered and staggered my way home. A bit disappointing to finish the Week of Pain this way, after 114 miles, but the clue is in the name and the ‘P’ word. I am in no way disheartened by today and the return journey from Fareham, via Serpentine Road and Kiln Road, was pocked by several stops to check on the progress in some of the pre-season county cricket friendlies.

That will be the end of walking for a few days until next weekend. Progress is good and pretty fit with 8 weeks to go.