You’d imagine by the ripe old age of 38, I’d be reasonably proficient at walking. I’ve had quite some time to practice.
It may sound odd to say, however, that for someone who aims to run over 50km per week, I don’t really walk very much. Given the sedentary nature of my job and the fact I commute by car, I am either sitting or running, with the possible exception of the mornings when I end up parking at the far end of the carpark at work. I might squeeze in a whole 90 seconds of walking then.
Why is this, now somewhat lengthy, tale important? Next weekend my lovely better half and I, along with a group of friends are tackling Race to the King. This can take many formats and we’re opting for the hopefully more sociable two-day walking format. 53 miles over the South Downs in Southern England spread over the weekend. Walking, we’re anticipating a good 20 to 24 hours of time on our legs.
I may run. I may run 20 miles on a Sunday. I do not spend 24 hours on my feet though. I’ll perhaps cover 20 miles in 3 hours or so, then sit down and have a sandwich. Therefore, it was time to get some Race-to-the-King-specific training in at the weekend.
We headed off to Gloucestershire with the aim of tackling the well known May Hill, in a good 20 mile loop giving us leg time of over 6 hours with a bit of luck.
It turned out to be a beautiful walk and it did take about 6 or 7 hours in total, depending on whether you include the pub and coffee shop stops. I know, serious stuff. In spite of Mother Nature threatening to put a dampener on proceedings, it stayed dry and the sun even came out to ensure our 3 layers felt like massive overkill.
By golly did my legs ache more than if I’d run the same distance though. By golly, did I just use the phrase ‘by golly’. That’s when it struck me that I don’t really do enough walking so, on a day like that, my feeble walking muscles get woken from their ivory tower and forced to work.
I certainly knew about it in the evening. Would I have been able to get up the next day and do it again? Probably but it would have been harder work than I might have imagined previously. It’s a good job, as next weekend I’m going to have to get up and do it again, and then some. In the meantime, I’m glad I’ve had a bit of a wake up call to get my walking muscles on the move.
On the plus side, it was a wonderful day and the views were fantastic. One of those hills that when you reach the top, you can see so far that you can’t understand why it isn’t visible from most places on Earth. Photos don’t really do it justice but here’s a taster:
These walking events will also ultimately help my ultra running too. There are obviously several walking spells during an ultra. Now I come to think if it, they’ve always felt quite tough. This is no longer surprising given my non-existent walking strength. Interestingly, during a downhill we broke into a jog and it was unbelievable how comfortable it felt, using a different set of muscles that hadn’t really been tested for most of the day.
So, we’ll see how we get on next weekend with my new found muscles and appreciation for walking. And walking. And walking. It’s certainly something I’ll do more of as an alternative cross training. I am now 38 after all so it is time I learnt to walk.
I’d be interested how many other runners have the same experience finding walking more difficult than running for extended amounts of time? If it’s just me and my weak legs, then let me down gently.