Monday, 25 August 2008

Grand Union Canal - Out and Back - (middlesex) - 25/08/08 - 10 Miles - 9kg - Myself

What I enjoy about walking, is the chance to get outdoors in the fresh air and explore new places, and certainly it fulfills that function for me. Yet what I also want (make that need) is the opportunity to exercise, and for me at least walking has always fallen short of this goal. What constitutes exercise is of course relative, so whereas for one person a 10 - 12 mile walk might be a considerable workout, for me it is no more than a pleasant activity. Frustrated with this fact, I have yet again this week contemplated how feasible it would be to make another attempt at a Running comeback. Yet last years attempt (over the most minimal of distances) was almost immediately aborted, as the pounding brought back all the old injuries which I assumed time had finally cleared up. So given that walking (along with cycling) remains my best injury free option, the question is how can I get more out of it fitness wise.

Now for reasons described in the last post, I turned down the opportunity to do an 18 miler on Saturday, yet surely given how much time such a distance requires, that cannot be the way ahead. Well today I tried something new (although a variation on an idea from last year) namely carrying weight over distance. So for todays experimental 10 miler, I carried an additional 9kg (or 9 litres of water in my rucksack). The original and future intention was/is to make that 15kg, but I felt it best to err on the safe side. The other great thing about carrying water as the bulk of your self imposed ballast, is that if it gets too much to cope with, you just tip it all out.

So on an overcast day that continually threatened rain (but never did) I set off from my home in Osterley reaching the 'Braunston 92 Miles' sign on the Grand Union canal in exactly 20 minutes. I took that to be a good mile, which turned out to be fairly accurate, as all the other mile markers were also coming up in just under 20 minutes. My ultimate objective being the 'Braunston 88 miles' marker, which would make me exactly 5 miles out, at which point I would turn 180 degrees and come straight back. As such it was quite a straightforward walk apart from one slightly hairy moment, when I had to negotiate my way through a gang of dodgy looking youths, who looked to be in the middle of some sort of drugs deal.

Anyway by the time I was at the 5 mile point, the weight of the rucksack which had already raised my sweat level above normal, was starting to take its toll as unusually for me, I had developed two enormously painful blisters on the bottom of my heels. Not only that but my fingers had all turned white and were slightly swollen. Thus the blisters were a real problem on the way back but not the weight of the rucksack itself, which makes me feel I can easily cope with the additional 6kg's next time out.

As such I wasn't in any way out of breath at the end of the walk (although given some decent gradients I am sure that would be a different story), but was certainly aware that the distance had been far more of a workout than I would normally have expected. I think therefore that this is the way to go in future for all my walks, as the potential to add weight is unlimited, whilst hoping the fitness benefits are as well. All I can say is watch this space.

Finally todays 10 mile blast was a good antidote to what was in effect a very disappointing and unfulfilling weekend.

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