Challenge

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

The focus has shifted a bit recently. Whereas in late summer and autumn we were out almost daily on the footpaths close to home, obsessed with foraging, and never content unless we were coming home with a backpack filled with hedgerow fruit or nettles for cooking, now our attention has been caught by a new challenge.

In October, fresh from completing the HOOP, we felt the time was right to attempt the Letchworth Greenway. It was, in fact, considerably easier, being far less demanding walking on a much cooler day. We walked round it, arrived home primed for tea and cake, and pronounced ourselves very satisfied.

Then they put this notice on the website announcing a half-marathon organised in partnership with North Herts Road Runners. Well, what can you do but enter?

Knowing that we could walk round it, and with six months to get fit enough to run round it, it was a no-brainer. We’re not complete beginners at running, and it was time to start some serious training in order to be able to enter The Greenway Challenge. That’s now underway – some of it on roads and footpaths, including the Greenway itself, some of it on the treadmill and in the gym.

With this in mind (and a couple of other half-marathons we’d like to do if this one goes well) we’ve got a couple of big training ventures planned. The first will be to go out on the Greenway running for endurance, not speed, and see how we get on.

We’ll probably be looking to tackle it in running gear (instead of the heavy boots and rucksack filled with comestibles that accompanied us last time) and run-and-walk at very easy, and probably about equal, intervals.

So, that’s a training exercise for a specific, planned event. Something else we might do to challenge ourselves is attempt a longer day’s walking than we’ve ever yet managed. Of course, when you’ve got the half-marathon cracked, the next logical step would be to go for the big one. And indeed some events, notably the Belfast City Marathon, offer entrance to walkers.

So we’re going to attempt a 26.2 mile walk when the clocks go forward. Given that we’ll be wanting to do it locally, the orbital paths around Hitchin and Letchworth or Stevenage are extremely likely to provide the route.

We’re pretty sure it will be the longest distance we’ve covered. On steep hills in the south west, with big backpacks, we considered 14 miles a bloody good day’s labour. We’re pretty sure that our longest walk while on the long-distance beat was an 18-mile stretch of the North Norfolk Coast Path between Wells-next-the-Sea and Weybourne (that’s the official 16-and-a-half plus a bit more between the B&Bs).

So it really will be a case of trying something we’re not sure we can do, with both the running and the walking. Great stuff. Life’s better with a few challenges.

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Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow - Thoreau