Training Walk: 6 miles in Epping Forest

A few months ago, as I signed up to the Isle of Wight Challenge (the big one planned in for 2018), I was told something that I did not quite believe.

“Just because you can run, don’t assume you can walk.”

I did not think that much of it again, until I decided to get a head start in training for the big event next year.

65 miles will be no mean feat. With all kinds of terrains following the coast of the Isle of Wight, in what I estimate to take around 24 hours, and throughout the night too. If the miles don’t get to me, the sleep deprivation certainly will.

So, I took the time to start racking up the miles before Christmas and before the training plan kicks in in the New Year.

I have progressively increased the walking miles over the last few weeks, even covering around 30 miles whilst in Bordeaux. And this weekend I took to Epping Forest to start covering some mileage closer to home.

My first outing to Epping Forest came around a month ago. One wet, miserable Saturday afternoon I ventured out, got lost and found no joy in the route – which was rather desolate. It was not until the end of my walk that I found the “main path” detailed on the map and I kicked myself for not finding it sooner.

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This time I headed in the right direction. Again; it was wet, raining and generally a rather miserable day. Starting at the Wake Arms Roundabout I headed south into the depth of the forest following that “main path.” I did not get lost, I did not find it desolate – instead it was one of the most joyful walks I have had in a long time.

Despite the weather the forest was full of like minded walkers, runners, cyclists and even several horse riders. It seems I was walking in the right direction this time round – the forest had a wonderful bustling atmosphere.

Two miles in I reached the Kings Oak Hotel and continued along the main path a little longer. This is where the path changed considerably. What started as a predominantly flat route became one that saw some of the biggest hills I had trekked for some time.

Some runners were bravely powering up and down the hills. Although I was tempted to follow them, I stuck to my strong walking/ marching pace, which was a challenge in itself on the downhill stretches.

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Shortly after the hills my Garmin buzzed for the 3 mile marker and it was time to turn back on myself. Back up the challenging hills, that had a definite impact on my heart race but also left me feeling like I was having a great work out.

And then the Garmin died! I stupidly forgot to charge up before I ventured out, so after four miles I had to guess my pacing and overall time.

Quickly retracing my step I made it back to the start feeling a little worn out, but with a sense of exhilaration – that feeling I get every time I finish a work out that I am pleased with.

The next day I realised the comment my friend made rang true. My legs, glutes and calves were all tight. Walking is tougher than you may think.

And It was only six miles. Taking a total of 1 hour 46 minutes – averaging at around 17 minutes per mile. A great base to build up on over the next few months. At this pace, without stoppages, I would be looking at a finish time of around 18-19 hours. Not realistic, as lets face it not only am I going to have to account for rest stops but anything the actual day will through at me too.

However, I will use this timing as a guide to push myself forward and improve over the coming months.

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