Friday, 5 August 2011

Raising The Bar

I'm a little proud of myself.

Since the middle of July, I have taken up Fitness Walking as my main activity of exercise (apparently, playing on the Wii doesn't count). I needed to do something, because I was becoming severely inactive, and was gaining weight - but I have suffered with Sciatica in the past which has meant that stuff like running is not a viable option.
So one weekend in July I went for a walk along a local track known as the Trailway, from my home town of Sturmnster Newton. The Trailway follows the route of the old Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway, and about four miles along there is the Shillingstone Railway Project - basically the restored former Station at Shillingstone, the next station on from Sturminster Newton. I really enjoyed that walk, and decided to do it again on the following Monday.
On the Monday in question, I set myself a time limit to get from my home to the Shillinstone Railway Project and back again. The time limit was 1 hour and 30 minutes - as that was the cooking time for my tea that night, Jacket Potatoes. I made it there and back in 1hr 29mins 14 seconds - but in doing so, planted a seed in my brain; I wondered how fast I could walk to the Railway Project and back, if I really tried?
Two days later on 13th July, I walked again - but faster this time. I completed the walk in 1hr 24 mins 38 seconds, beating my previous time by 4 minutes and 36 seconds. But glory comes at a price - and the currency is pain. When I walk, I wear walking boots as opposed to Trainers. I would have worn by trainers, but I threw them out after they apparently mated with a dolphin, and started squeaking all the time. And although I had walking boots,  I didn't have walking socks, and developed a horrendous blister on the heel of my left foot. It was so bad, that I would do the walk (sounds like a song title) for another 3 weeks.
By the 1st August my foot was well enough to travel. To be on the safe side, I bought blister plasters, and proper walking socks (£12:99 for one pair - what a rip off!). Having not walked for such a long time, I felt that I was right back at the beginning - but surprised myself by completing the walk in 1hr 23mins 45 seconds - and improvement of 53 seconds. That's almost a minute! Furthermore, my feet were intact.
In case you are wondering, I use a sports tracking application called Edomondo to log the facts and figures of my walks. It is very good, and can be used on a wide variety of sports and activities. There is a mobile App, which is what I use to track my progress. You can see details of all my walks by clicking HERE.

So, I back in the game - and hungry to do better. After a days rest, I back walking on Wednesday 3rd August. I was determined to be faster - and I was! 1 minute and 39 seconds faster actually, with a total time of 1hr 22 mins 6 seconds. I was proud of that, as I did suffer with a number of aches and pains including "Walker's Nipple", Cramp, severe pain in the joint of my right knee, and chafing of the inner thighs by my three quarter length trousers. That walk took an awful lot out of me.
And so, I arrived at today Friday 5th August 2011. The Challenge had been set: walk the 6.75 miles from my house in Bridge Street, Sturminster Newton to the Shillingstone Railway Project and back in less than 1hr 22mins 06 seconds. I had not chosen a good day to try to improve on my time. I had been at work from 6am until 4:40pm, and had had a busy and stressful day. I was feeling tired, and could quite easily have not walked at all.
However, a tiny voice inside me said "it's against the law to eat Midgets". I ignored it, and decided to walk anyway. But not before applying generous quantities of Vaseline to my left nipple, and the inside of both thighs to avoid more chafing/nipple rub. I was as slippery as a politician, I can tell you.
I put on my walking socks, and my walking boots (and my other clothes) and went for it.

It was the hardest walk I have ever done. I kept pushing and pushing myself, urging my aching legs to keep moving me forward. The sweat ran off me in a torrent, I was exhausted, dehydrated - and yet I knew I had to keep going. The Outward journey went great - I knew I was doing well. But the journey back was torture. My mind battled with my body for control of my limbs, and though I tried to keep a good pace, I felt myself slowing. I had no idea as to how long it was taking; I make a point of not checking the elapsed time until I get back home to my starting point.

The last few steps were agony, but as I got to my door, I pressed "stop" on the timer, and checked what it said: 1hr 20mins 24seconds. I had done it - not just done it, smashed my previous best by 1 minute and 42 seconds!!

However, my ecstacy was soon replaced by confusion. The sports tracker records not only time, but distance, elevation, average speed etc. and was saying that I had only walked 6.50 miles, where on Wednesday I had walked 6.68 miles. Is this the reason my time was better? It couldn't be, because I walk the exact same route every single time - if you check out my workouts on the link above, it gives you a map of each walk. You can clearly see they are all the same. So I don't know why it says I walked less - maybe it's the fact that I walked quicker that makes it think I have covered less distance. I haven't. What I have done, I walked the same distance faster than I have ever done before.

So I have set the bar higher - but this time, I really don't know if I can beat it. I put everything into this walk, and had nothing left to give. I now have the weekend to recover, but come Monday I must test myself again.

It's true what they say - no pain, no gain.

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