Taking a break

Can’t say that the last couple of weeks have been the best of my walking “career”, if one can call it a career. A very decent 17 mile walk on a hot Sunday two weeks ago but you might recall that I referred to a bit of dehydration afterwards. Well, dehydration is not something to be taken lightly and by late Tuesday afternoon, I was feeling unwell at work. Obviously I hadn’t fully recovered from Sunday and Tuesday was the day during which temperatures on the south coast hit around 33 Celsius.

After a couple of hours trying to have a sleep, I then threw up violently and that kicked off two full days of just drinking water and water-based fluids, often then bringing them up and sweating profusely. So the moral of the story is to take dehydration seriously otherwise it will take you seriously. It wasn’t until about Wednesday this week that I felt 90 per cent right again, though I had been back at work after the weekend. I even missed cricket! At one point, I had lost 8 pounds in weight – from Friday to Friday – but part of that was from the walk and part from the subsequent illness, not sure how I would apportion those 8.

After that, I tended to feel worst in the mornings so I have shifted having my one coffee of the day to the mid-afternoon, just as I am starting to feel a bit tired mentally. This allows me to remain alert and my brain still usable for another two or three hours, while the morning is reserved for the normal healthy breakfast smoothie and water-based drinks that tackle the period where one tends to be most in need of hydration, after a night of sleep.

I am going to take a few weeks off and wait for the weather to cool a bit before getting back on the road in earnest. But the good news is that I’m feeling reasonably good and may even do a few short walks in the evenings if the weather is reasonable. Unfortunately, it is much harder to get a coffee then, but if I’m only going to be doing 6 or 7 miles, I hardly need a break anyway. Let’s just see how it goes.

Ambition? Yes, I still have it but I am nervous about feeling anything like I did last week. That was scary. But I will be back in a while, needing once again to build up a bit of fitness from what might be quite a low base by then. I have no intention of giving up. I know it’s good for me and others agree: http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/healthy-living/fitness/advice/a26433/walking-is-best-for-muscles-joints/

I may blog occasionally on walking stuff for a while, especially if I do see some nice articles or in other blogs, like this: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/5-project-management-lessons-i-learned-walking-across-victor-prince?published=u



So close

It has taken a while before I have really got back into walking and I have missed it. I know it is tremendously good for me and my well-being but there is a cognitive dissonance in play – the fact that I know it is good doesn’t make me do it. We don’t always do what’s best for us and use the evidence of our own knowledge and experience. I could ask an expert why this is but apparently I, as a member of the public, am fed up of experts. Let’s go freestyle and make it up as we go along. That is the mantra of 2016.

There weren’t going to be any excuses today. I had taken five weeks off to recover and regroup and then had a decent walk two weeks ago, but last week the pull of the British Grand Prix, Wimbledon and Tour de France were just too much, helped along by the convenient excuse catalyst of a heavy shower in the morning. Couch potatoism it was to be. But over the last week, half a dozen friends from different parts of my life have asked after me, what was happening with my walking and even what my next challenge would be. That was nice to feel that people do care about me and I read a few old blog posts from the past to really kick-start some motivation.

My word, it was hot and humid today. It felt really vital to cover up and protect myself from the sun given I have pretty fair skin, not that much protection on the top of my head now, and have been known to burn even in very mild weather. But it was tough going today and my legs were aching fairly quickly from a level of unfitness that I haven’t experienced for about four and a half years, the time when I started distance walking. I’m never quite sure at times whether I go walking for enjoyment or for fitness or for just some buzz to be able to say to myself and others that I can walk x miles. After climbing and descending the Itchen Bridge, by means of the road I should say, I ended up in Southampton, where there was for once a decent breeze for some relief. Before that, I had also taken a diversion through a wooded area between Sholing and Weston for some fresher air but instead it felt as close as a tropical forest.

No coffee for me today but a cooling fruit shake. It didn’t really help what was feeling like dehydration so I also bought 2 litres of water, you know, those with a touch of strawberry or lemon. One litre of each, actually. Now they didn’t last too long as I shuffled up to Portswood, where I was daydreaming and absolutely jumped out of my skin as police cars turned on their sirens just at the moment they passed me. 10 minutes later, I was down in Bitterne Park, just before the Triangle, as a number of youths were arguing the toss with a number of police and generally looking like a load of idiots. Before they could snear, “I’ll get my Dad onto you and he’ll sue you for every penny you got”, it was all over and the youths strolled off in that lairiest of lairy ways with feet pointing to 10 and 2 o’clock. Both the boys and the girls, that is.

Time for me to move on too. I was hurting a bit, legs aching and the soles of my feet feeling a bit rough and warm. I was humming the Hall and Oates song “So Close” – “so close but so far away, we believe in tomorrow but we’re stuck in today….. who would have thought, girl, that we’d end up this way? Baby we’re so close, so close, but so far away…..” I love Hall and Oates, so mellow and too soulful to be classed as either MOR or American AOR, and a great candidate for the washing up session very very soon. John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Hurts So Good” came more to mind as I neared the last couple of miles, quite pleased that I had kept going when it would have been easy to catch a bus. No, once you do that once, that would always be an easy way out.

By and large, it was a relatively uneventful last few miles – I could have done with a distraction from the humidity and the need to drink more water. Where are the standpipes these days? No, health and safety, might catch cholera or dysentry, so instead it’s another few more pence for a bottle of what tastes just like tap water anyway. That was one of the hardest 17 miles I’ve ever done, and despite all that water, I still felt slightly dehydrated when I reached home. Good time though, well under six hours even with a half hour stop and some shop stops. Not that the time was any great concern today, the distance was everything. But you know when you need fluid – I will just say ‘urine colour’. So more rehydration tonight, a relatively early night and a couple of days healthy eating. That will sort me out, as well as some cooler weather next weekend!

Negative thinking history cleared

For a few days I have really looked forward to this weekend. Cricket as ever in the summer on a Saturday, but most of all back to walking on Sunday after five weeks. In the last couple of weeks, I have champing at and chomping on the bit ready to get those boots back out and stamp along the roads and paths of Southern Hampshire.

I know it’s good for me, and I hadn’t realised how much others knew it has been good for me, despite me banging on about it on this blog and in conversation, until a few months ago when I was in a meeting with a senior manager at work, not known for their small talk. They said to me, “You know Keith, you need to be around here for a few years yet. Do whatever long walks you need to keep up your health and well-being for that time”. That has stuck with me and will stick with me for some considerable time.

I was full of enthusiasm this morning and, without quite bounding out of the front door, was eager to get a few miles, at least double figures. Of course, it was very likely to be only double figures. Treble figures or 100 miles would just be too much, 100 kilometres were hard enough and I would have still to be limping around some time on Monday afternoon or evening for that. I was not tempted at any time to speed walk and the mission was purely a function of distance. Well, that, and a desire as always to perform that function “Clear Negative Thought History” – which would be so easy if only it did take three or four clicks in Internet Explorer or Chrome. So much has happened since my last walk, the London2Brighton thing no less.

The EU referendum. I didn’t like the outcome but we have to live with it. Solution is for everyone to deal with the consequences rather than try to change the result. Anything else would threaten the public engagement with the whole democratic process and further degenerate the trust in politicians and politics, though it has to be said that not many on either side of the original argument are helping much to deal with the consequences. Move on…

England at the Euros. I didn’t like the outcome but we have to live with it. Solution is to deal with the consequences rather than try to change the result. There’s a theme building, it seems. The “we are where we are” position.

More personally, the lack of walking for that time just makes me feel unfit. That is perhaps the most easily resolved, and I went along the path of dealing with the consequences. I’m still very proud of what I achieved and that positivity can drive me to similar or bigger and better things, in time.

So double figures were the goal today. It was around 6 miles before I took a coffee stop in Stubbington. You know, anyone who has been my friend for any length of time will know that feeling of hearing the same pun or joke over and over again (c.f. check shirt) and I had that feeling today in a condensed 20 minutes. I had only just taken my seat to drink my coffee when a bloke, around my age, entered with his family and it was clear that he and they were not coffee shop regulars, especially when he pronounced the word ‘mocha’ to rhyme with ‘nosher’. As they sat down at a table close to me, he mused, “Costa Coffee? Costa fortune, more like.” Ok, I excuse him the first well worn use of that play on words.

Incidentally, the term ‘play on words’ comes from Shakespeare and The Merchant of Venice, where Lorenzo exclaims, “How every fool can play upon the word!” That play was one that I studied for my O Level English Literature and was my favourite of the half a dozen works of old Will that I read – or had to read perhaps – as part of my education. Romeo and Juliet was all right, though I felt that some of the cast were acting like drama queens half the time and Macbeth? I could take it or leave it really. Yes, T.M.O.V. was certainly my favourite.

Anyway. Methinks that be enough of that Bill Bryson-like digression into pointless natter, and back to the coffee. Yes, this Costa fortune line was repeated five times (yes, I was counting) before my time was up and I told him exactly what I thought. Well, actually I didn’t, indeed I wasn’t going to get too frothed up about it and I went on my merry way to Fareham before turning for home. 16 miles in total. A very satisfactory reintroduction to my pastime and exercise of choice for almost five years now. Soles of my feet a trifle sore but only to be expected after the longest hiatus over that period. Negative thinking history cleared. Rebooted and ready to get on with whatever life throws at me.