Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Upping the Ante

I have started to increase mileage over the past week and have been on five walks of at least 8 miles in that period. I do not have any trouble at all in motivating myself to hit the road whatever the weather - however I am grateful to Mark H and Mike G who joined me on 3 occasions and were willing to go at my much slower pace !It does make horizontal rain more bearable with someone else to bounce off. In fact my claim to fame is that I managed to keep on the tail of Mike on the climb up Summerhill and Blackberry Lane - trouble is, Mike was dying of a cough at the time !

After an 8 miler plus today though, I am feeling a few niggles so am going to listen to my body and back off for a couple of days.I did try to take a cold bath afterwards Paula Radcliffe style to help but wimped out and only lasted about 40 seconds ! It's not an easy thing for me back off especially when you realise there are only 16 weeks to go to the race, I am on holiday for 2 of them and don't plan to do much in the final week. Plus I am going to be flat out with work over the TT fortnight so that's 5 weeks lost in total. Panic ...Ive only 11 weeks left to prepare !!

Anticipation is building up with each passing week and it was good to see the current list of entrants on the Parish Walk site. However, a few of the top guys are still not listed as entered so come on Sean, Robbie, Ray,Sue, Steve hurry up and get your entries in - this race needs you ! It is going to be a truly great race this year and I know from speaking to a few of the guys that most of the top 20 walkers from last year have high expectations of themselves and are aiming to lower their Parish PB's again. I almost wish I was watching !

Monday, 19 February 2007

A physical wreck

When I first started out with race walking last September, I naively thought I would have no problems, either technically or physically. How hard can it be ?

I now know, not only it is hard to perfect your technique, it can be extremely stressful on the body if you are not properly in shape. I went to see a physio last week ( won't mention names but can highly recommend this person if you ask me ) about my bad back and came out of the session with my head in a whirl - I never knew there was so much wrong with me ! I only went in for a haircut and came out with a makeover ! I found out the arches on my feet were worn away, my calves needed stretching, my core was weak as were my hamstrings, my buttocks were not functioning at all and I have one hip higher then the other. Oh is that all ! We never even got to my back during the hour long session. Basically I was told that I had been happily plodding through life as a Ford but was suddenly trying to convert myself into a Ferrari ( well not in my case but you know what I mean ) and my body was having none of it.My lack of muscle tone has been contributing to my ailing back. So I am going to have at least 8 weeks of intensive physio to strengthen up the critical muscles and also hopefully prevent major injuries.

Anyone else who is a newcomer to racewalking and has maybe been inactive for a while, I would strongly advise getting yourself checked out first with a professional to make sure your engine is up to the stresses and strains of the sport.The mechanics of how your body works is important to know beforehand if you intend to take up this game. I am only glad I went now and didn't leave it until later as there is no way I would finish the Parish in my current condition. In addition to training and working on my technique, I now have 4 months to build up muscle strength.

The turn out for the Final round of the Winter League yesterday was tremendous with a really high class field with Peter Kaneen, Sean Hands, Mike George and fellow blogger Steve Partington in attendance ( nice to see Steve out, the local race walking scene needs him ). I make no excuses for mentioning my father- in- law Dave Capelen who to his credit was competing less than 2 months after a serious heart attack. Well done mate. Also thumbs up to his brother Simon, who despite minimal training, dipped below the hour mark for 10K in his first race for god knows how long.

The race went fine for me but as usual I went too quick in the early stages of the race and paid for it in the middle. I gritted my teeth for the final 2 miles and was pleased with my time of 66min 54s, knocking almost 2 minutes off my last time. However, I know that my technique is slowing me down and I need to work on it badly. It is a pity the league is now finished so I will have to keep one eye on the fixtures - a race really does bring you on.

One thing I must admitting to not doing is enough ( or any for that matter ) hill repeats. Everyone I talk to stresses the importance of this to build up stamina. This will be my objective over the next couple of weeks - honest !

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Positive thinking

I haven't much to report this week as, besides my niggling back problem, I have had a severe cold which rendered me to bed at 4pm on Sunday ! Man flu can be a killer, can't it guys !

Anyway, tried to get out yesterday morning but stopped after a mile as I was feeling ill. Annoyed with myself at my feeble attitude, I psyched myself up and told myself, in no uncertain terms,not to be so defeatist and that I was hitting the streets again after work at 9.30pm. Which leads me onto my main point...

I have always been a very strong believer in positive thinking - had it drummed into me from my dad at an early age. " There is no such word as can't " he used to drill into me religiously. With that in mind, and a " sod the world " attitude Liam Gallagher would have been proud of, I stomped out last night and managed to do six miles. Not only do them, but enjoyed it too - little traffic ( it was 10pm ) and it was surprisingly mild.It will be great training at that time when the nights get lighter. Not the quickest but that wasn't the point. I managed to overcome my negative thoughts and doubts about my fitness and wellbeing. Cobwebs blown away, I feel I am now back on an upward curve after a couple of weeks of negativity.

Call me a masochist but I am actually looking forward to my body challenging my mind in the later stages of the Parish.I believe this very special event is as much a battle within yourself as much as anything else which is probably its appeal for most people. Certainly it is true for me anyway !As my body wants to shut down, will I have the mental strength to battle through it ? Or will the words of my father ring in my ears and I finally discover he was lying to me and there is a word " can't" ! Should be fun finding out.

Monday, 5 February 2007

Back to square 1

One minute you are up, the next you are down !From having won Round 5 of the Walking League at Andreas the other week on the handicap and being happy with my progression fitness wise, I have had a poor week. And boy has it got me down !

I have injured my back and haven't trained properly for almost a week, except for a half hour session at the NSC this evening which depressed me further ! I have lost a lot of condition and positivity in this short space of time and I feel I am back to square one.

However, a lot of this could be down to my state of mind too as I have had a trying week. I was also aboard the Sea Cat last Saturday which somehow managed to crash into a bulk container on the Mersey Estuary. I am not ashamed to say it was the most terrifying moment of my life as I was sure the ship was going to sink. Thoughts of finishing the Parish were far from my mind at that point ! But, thankfully, it all turned out fine in the end and I have never been so pleased to get back on terra firma. Hopefully, the enquiry will be thorough and lessons will be learned from this potential disaster.

Rant and whining over,with no training and only treatment on my back ( can highly recommend fellow blogger Mark Hempsall's sports massage to ease aches and pains ) I have had time to ponder the logistics of the race this week.This is an area which concerns me greatly as a novice as there are so many variables and situations to cover over the 85 mile slog. What do I drink besides water ? What do I need to eat ? How much do I need ? How many changes of clothing should I take ? What if I need a number two ? The list of questions goes on and on !

I seems to me that you can do all the training under the sun but if your back-up is not prepared and on the ball, then you will fail. At the moment, only Mrs Mackey has volunteered for back-up service( does she know what she has let herself in for ?) but there is no way of earth she can manage it all day and night, especially with two small children to amuse !They will have to sleep at some time !This is something that we, as a family, will have to sort out as the race beckons.All other help is futile -my mother wouldn't know how to get to Ramsey, my father-in-law is competing, while all my mates will be in the pub as it's a Saturday ! All I'd get as support from them is abuse and bottles of Becks !

It's going to take organisation of D-day landing proportions but I am determined to get it right. I don't intend to waste seven months of training on a simple oversight !