Preparing for the Isle of Wight Challenge

In six weeks time the Isle of Wight Challenge will be done and dusted, and most likely still evident with the aches and pains expected post challenge.

I have come a long way with my walking in the last few months and I have found a new love for joining others in a long walk through forests and around farmers fields in my local area. I never imagined I would enjoy walking for hours on end, but I have and in doing so I have become fond of the company I have in doing so.

With less than six weeks to go, it is important to keep up the momentum and to prepare myself fully with what is to come.

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Training will not let up over the coming weeks. Every Sunday sees me plan in a long walk with the team, with the mileage getting bigger and bigger until the final few weeks. I will need to ensure that I get my biggest walk (around 10 hours of walking), planned and accomplished well before the day itself. A night walk; starting off in the day and finishing later into the evening; would be advisable to help me cope with that need to carry on – despite the fatigue setting in.

With training I also need to ensure I carry on mixing up the activities – not purely relying on walking to see me through. So, I will be heading back into Body Pump sessions twice a week along with my usual Spinning classes to build up strength.

Preparing for all weathers is something we have most definitely been doing over the last few months. We have seen sub zero temperatures, snow, wind – you name it. So if snow is forecasted on the day we will be prepared. What we will not be prepared for, however, is warm temperatures and sun! Instead we will just have to remember provisions to help us through if we are lucky to be blessed with warm weather – sunglasses, hat, extra water and sunscreen is all on the list of things to take along.

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The Kit is vital to any challenge. Since training for the Isle of Wight challenge began I have trained in a variety of foot wear to find what works best for me. Starting with my runners, as I thought they would be perfect for the job at hand. They were not, as I found out during the London Winter Walk, though perfect for shorter running distances they did not provide the stability needed for long arduous walks. So the next walk saw me don the trainers that got me through the London Marathon. The support was perfect, as long as my feet remained dry. So they would be great, until we have to face rain – trainers were out.

The next port of call was walking boots. For several weeks I attempted to rack up the miles in heavy boots, each time willing that they “break in” so I could stop thinking about my feet with every step. Each week I failed, my feet remained a mess of cuts and blisters.

So I gave up on the boots.

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I headed to Go Outdoors to try on a pair of Salomon X Ultra GTX Walking shoes, after a recommendation from a friend. They fit like a glove, and after walking them in during the week I took them on their first long walk. No hot spots, no blisters and no cuts to be seen. I had finally found the footwear for me and teamed them up with a pair of 1000 mile socks. There have been no cuts and blisters since.

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Nutrition is something I am still learning about during walks. Some have advised to eat something small every two miles, some say every hour. Either way, with each walk I am ensuring I have an array of snacks, including sweets like Fruit Pastilles or Jelly Babies. One or two of these every hour or so enables me to keep my energy levels up.

However, it is the meals we will have to take on board before the challenge and at the half way point rest stop that causes me concern on the day. Therefore the big 10 hour walk cannot come soon enough. I can use this training walk as a test to see what works – talking a refreshment break with food just over half way.

Rest is just as important as training itself. Over the coming weeks I will have to ensure that I fit in rest days (something that I have previously been terrible at) and find ways to relax. Just this morning I headed to the gym to spend an hour in the spa – using the hot tub and steam room. I find in the absence of a bath, the hot tub soothes my muscles, the steam room helps with clearing my lungs and the two combined helps me get a restful sleep.

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And if I have time between now and challenge day I will also schedule in a Floatation session, to relax both my mind and body ahead of the big day.

Less than six weeks until I face the Isle of Wight Challenge, the countdown is well and truly on.

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