“Just because you can run, don’t assume you can walk.”
Upon signing up for the Isle of Wight challenge I heard this statement a lot. I thought, at the time, It was the most ridiculous thing anyone could say.
Now well into the training I am beginning to understand how true this is.
I spent months, upon months this time last year clocking up the miles and getting the kit just right in preparation for the London Marathon. I thought walking and everything about walking would be a piece of cake in comparison.
So I did not put much thought into kit, into planning for the next few months. I decided to take it day by day to see how it goes. What I did not factor in at all was that the kit required for running is completely different for walking.
For the first few walks I simply threw on the runners and off I went, soon to discover that the comfort of the footwear I cherish so highly are not suitable for longer walks. Next I switched to my trusted marathon trainers, which had a higher level of support, but found on a very rainy day they did not offer the waterproof protection I needed. Lets face it, walking round for hours on hours with soaking feet is asking for trouble.
So, I had to look at alternative footwear and as such I purchase a pair of sturdy walking boots. Despite not getting on with walking boots previously I knew that this would be the most sensible option to complete the challenge comfortably.
I completed a few shorter walks to break them in and on Sunday I took them for their first big walk. A planned 20 + miles from Harlow, with the aim to reach Stratford.
The morning started off well. It was a beautiful sunny morning and we remarked at how lucky we were, weather wise, so far in training. I was feeling happy, we were making great pace and I was determined to clock up the miles.
The problem. The new boots.
At around mile six I started to become aware of a few niggles. The balls of my feet, the little toes and my ankles – all started to become tender. I carried on, trying to ignore the feeling. However, over the next couple of miles all I could think about was the pain. I started to feel each and every pebble under foot. I could not think further ahead, and I knew that 20 miles was out for me this.
Reaching eight miles I decided to remove a pair of socks, leaving me with my trusted running socks. I would then test myself a little further to see if anything improved.
Unsurprisingly it didn’t. By ten miles I was hobbling, my pace was dropping and the gap between myself and the rest of the group was starting to increase. For someone who is used to being at the front or middle of the group – dragging behind started to stress me out.
So the sensible decision was made to cut my losses at 10 miles. The team had paused for a refreshment stop, so I used this opportunity to board the train and head back home.
Time to re-asses my kit. Think about the mistakes I made and make moves to ensure the next walk will be more comfortable.
My biggest mistake this time round? Socks!
I assumed my running socks, which I never received a single blister from, would be sufficient for walking. They were not!
Team the thin material with the tough new boots and my feet had turned to putty. Tender, full of blisters and cuts.
After advice from my fellow team members, the first thing I did that day was purchase a pair of 1000 mile socks. Made from a careful fibre blend and exact padding zones they claim to ensure a complete system of protection and cushioning. Sounds too good to be true, right?
Only time will tell, as I plan to head out again this weekend to test them out.
Just like all training, each day teaches me a new lesson, it helps me improve and gives me that extra knowledge to complete the challenge as comfortably and successfully as possible.