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Fast Packing the West Wight

Fast Packing. Apparently its a thing. Rather than simply hiking with a big pack its a combination of hiking and trail running. Using gear that increases in price as it decreases in weight, packs are light, kit is minimal and miles get covered.

I started training this year for an ultra marathon so I’ve been building up my mileage on the local trails. A week or so ago I decided to test myself and after packing enough kit to keep me alive overnight I headed out to see how far I’d come since I started running regularly in July.

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A Minor Milestone

or Holy S**t, I just ran 10k.

So on Friday I decided to just get up to the woods and try something. After struggling to get around a 5k loop the last view times I went out I had decided that my problem was pacing. I’d just go off too quick and then really struggle later.

The plan I had was to try and find this mythical forever pace I keep reading about, so I set up an interval timer to 10:1 and would aim to cover the same distance in each 10 minute block for half an hour or 5km whichever came first.

It very quickly became clear that it would be easier to measure km splits and although it was closer to 35 minutes the splits over 5km were pretty consistent, 7.09, 6.58, 7.13, 7.15, and 7.15 but more importantly I felt great.

Time for a proper challenge. I turned on my heels and retraced my steps. While I thought I’d have no chance of running all the way back I would at least try. Even if I walked the last 3km I was going to cover the ground.

And here’s the thing, I just kept it going and if anything I got a bit quicker. 7.26, ok a little slower, 6.48, woah slow up a bit, 6.55, 7.07 and then the last kilometres really didn’t matter. I was going to run 10 km (it was 6.58)

I was so pleased and it really feels like a game changer. If I can consistently hit 10km this next week I think I’ll be in a position to start looking at training plans for longer distances. I just need to not get carried away and hurt myself.

Anyway, here’s a little video I made while running my first ever 10km

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Couch to 5k

So the first part of this journey is complete. While not completely couch potato to running 5 kilometres, my physical job and hiking “prowess” gave a bit of a start, I’ve reached the end of the first training program in this long road to ultramarathons.

After a couple of false starts in June, July saw training start for real and using the “Get Running” couch to 5k app on my phone I was able to find some consistency in my running. It was still hard but the app really helped to get me out consistently 3 times a week.

I skipped ahead a few weeks on the program a point where it got quite hard but soon progressed to running, without stopping for a 1/2 hour. For most people this is the advertised 5k on the box, but because I’m slow, the reality for me was that I was only covering 2.5 km in the time.

So I set out to run the distance and while it hurt loads I managed to complete my first full 5km run in 37 minutes. The week after I ran it again 3 times and the times were consistent, but I also decided that actually time doesn’t matter just yet. Just hitting mini targets is good enough for know. Whether it’s 5km or 30 minutes or whatever, just doing more every week is the current goal.

So were well into this little project and I’ve hit the first target. I’m quietly pleased with myself, not because I run well, more because I’ve found a routine which seems to work and I feel like I’m making slow but forward progress.

Here’s all the Couch to 5km Training diaries edited into a nice little video on YouTube if you’re interested, (spoiler alerts! It wasn’t pretty!)

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Planning Our Way

A little while ago I stumbled across a Facebook post about the New Forest Film Festival. This perked my interest because a couple of years ago Evan and I made a little film as we hiked across the National Park in an attempt to reach Salisbury. Once I checked the guidelines for submissions I noticed that we had filmed that hike just a little too long ago to enter it this time around, so without needing much arm twisting we set our sights on making another film. (more…)

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New Forest 2017

Back in the summer, Evan and I made a plan to hike from the ferry terminal at Lymington, through the New Forest and on to Salisbury Cathedral. We hiked 7 miles on Friday evening before setting up the tarp and wildcamping. The next morning we awoke, surrounded by ponies, and set off by 6.30 am. We covered 21 miles that day, but fatigue hit us hard mid afternoon. We had been using the GPS device which had our proposed route loaded on but the remaining mileage never really matched up with our position on the map. Based on the figure the GPS was giving us we should have reached Salisbury that evening, however on closer inspection the technology only show 3/4s of our route. This news lowered Evans spirits somewhat, and coupled with a lack of water sources, we decided to call a halt to what had been a really enjoyable hike. I always say its better to have a good time than a push on and not enjoy it so we jumped on a bus and headed home.

We managed to make a little film about our adventure, although the camera equipment needs upgrading from a 10 year old digital compact camera and an iPhone4, so I hope you enjoy it.