Category Archives: walking

work stops play

I expected it to be difficult to keep up the level of activity of the last few weeks when I went back to work but I had a plan for the week. I didn’t plan on multiple days of stormy wind and rain though.

Tuesday onwards has been pretty grim which had a big impact on my cycling. My plan was 60km each of my days off (Wednesday and Sunday) with 25km two mornings before work (Tuesday and Friday). Tuesday morning wasn’t happening as I really needed the extra hour in bed. Wednesday I did get out but the worst of the storm was to hit that afternoon into Thursday so I only managed a wet and windy 26km. It was still stormy Friday morning so the bike was out again. Today it’s Mother’s Day and #2 son’s 13th birthday so 2.5hrs on the bike was never going to happen. I had hoped for an hour in the morning but a walk was just about enjoyable, a cycle would have been hateful. A total of 26km for the week, how the mighty have fallen!

© strava

Walking has been more successful. I’ve managed to keep up my streak of walking every day. Even on the wettest days it’s not hard to dress up appropriately and make it at least partially enjoyable. My target for the week is 30km and finishing on 28.9 my only issue was skipping the 2km walk on Thursday morning. Heavy rain and hail showers was not my idea of a good way to start the day.

© garmin connect

The biggest result of the week has been finally starting a strength and conditioning program. I’ve been following the Chain Reactions kettlebell routine from YouTube. Monday, Thursday, Saturday with a 2km warm up walk (skipped on Thursday). I’ve also added in some upper body movements to give a 25-30min routine. I was very stiff on Wednesday but OK since and hopefully it’s the start of a new habit.

#2 son 2008-2021

a week of walking

My last spin on the bike was a MTB recovery spin the day after my half marathon walk. That was Wednesday last week!

Since then there has been a series of nasty weather fronts that have crossed the country. Some of these have involved heavy spells of rain, we had one day of snow and virtually every day has been very windy or even stormy. We’ve had 4 yellow weather warnings and one of those was upgraded to orange for part of the day.

An often quoted phrase states “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes“. While I do agree with this to a certain extent I’m not a fan of cycling in extreme weather. Ice and thick fog are definite show stoppers for me but I tend not to go out in stormy weather either, especially if there is a risk of heavy rain. Stormy weather can be dangerous to ride in but for me it’s just not any fun!

I haven’t been sitting on my arse though. Over the last 8 days I’ve walked every day and twice on a couple of days. I’ve managed to rack up almost 63km over 10 walks. Only one was a short walk (2km) on Tuesday when I had a stomach bug. Despite pretty much hating cycling in wind and rain I somehow don’t mind walking in the same conditions.

photos from the last week

Header image by Pixabay from Pexels

half marathon

I’ve always enjoyed going for a walk, preferably in the hills which isn’t possible at the minute, but find walking anywhere relaxing and enjoyable. Since Covid in January I’ve been using walking, alongside cycling, as a means to get my fitness back to a good level. I have steadily increased my distance and frequency and have also started carrying a weighted backpack.

Yesterday I completed my longest walk since 2012 by walking 21.5km which is very slightly over a half marathon. I was also carrying a 4.5kg bag plus food and water which added approx 1kg for the first 10K.

I’ve only ever walked further than this twice before and both times in 2012. I was training for the Bluestack Challenge walk which I completed in September 2012. This was 30km through the Bluestack Mountains along part of The Bluestack Way for charity. That is my longest walk with a 25km training walk the week before the event being the next.

I’m not sure how far I want to push the distance but it would be nice to beat that 30k record.

strange sheep that looked like a mini llama
short lunch in the lee of a hedge out of the bitter wind
i didn’t risk it!
click image to view on strava

where’s the border?

I live in Donegal in the North West of Ireland and very close to the border with Northern Ireland (approx 3km) and now therefore an EU border with the UK. As part of the drawn out negotiations between the UK and EU there won’t be a hard border thereby preserving the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

As part of a discussion on Facebook a few days ago Paul of 36×25 asked me how we know where the border is. On most maps the international border is marked by a dark line.

© strava

The RoI/NI border follows the original and long established historic county borders. Anyone living close to the border has an almost instinctual knowledge of the border location as it’s an integral part of daily life. However, for visitors to the area it can be very vague.

Major roads will usually have very obvious signs crossing the border in either direction.

ni ➡ roi
roi ➡ ni

The majority of the approximately 300 crossings are on minor, sometimes very rural roads where the border crossing is much more subtle. In the walk above I crossed into NI for a short section and took the photos below to show the most common crossing.

roi ➡ ni
ni ➡ roi

The actual border is usually clearly seen by a change in tarmac where the two road agencies meet.

The red and white paint on the poles and road are for the Tyrone GAA team. There is a strong GAA rivalry between Donegal and Tyrone as next door neighbours and often contenders for the Ulster Championship.

Donal and Seamus are sitting in their local bar in Donegal watching England playing football. Seamus turns to Donal and asks him “would you ever consider supporting England?”. Donal thought for a few minutes before answering “Never….well, maybe…..if they were playing against Tyrone!”

Header image by Pixabay from Pexels

the humble walk

Many cycling blogs and online articles extol the virtues of cross training. The obvious focus is on running, swimming and pilates/yoga but walking is often overlooked.

The benefits of walking are many and the starting point is low. You need little to no specialised equipment. Most people will have a comfortable pair of shoes or trainers, a waterproof jacket, hat and gloves already. After that it’s just layers, depending on the weather. The other advantage of walking is that you can mix it up to a high degree. You can vary the terrain from roads to forest tracks to hiking off trail. You can mix in flat roads with hills or even hill repeats if you want. You can vary your speed from slow to fast, walk a variety of distances and carry a weighted pack to increase the effort.

The big benefit I’ve found over the last week is that bad weather still allows the opportunity for walking. Storms aren’t much fun to walk in but decent waterproof clothes and shoes mean it’s still possible. High winds, ice or snow make running and cycling difficult, if not impossible, but even the heavy snow this last week hasn’t stopped me from walking every day.

Walking has been a great way to recover from Covid and rebuild my fitness. Post isolation I started by taking short, easy walks, gradually extending the distance and speed before mixing in cycling. This allowed me to increase the effort gently, identify any impact on my lungs and steadily build my stamina again. I’ve walked almost every day since, sometimes twice a day. My biggest day was 12.5km over two walks and my longest was 9.2km. I’ve now also started walking with a 3kg weighted backpack to increase the effort required and build a bit of upper body stamina also. Apparently this is called “rucking“!

© garmin connect

My total distance for the month so far is almost 106km. 90km of that has been done since the 14th when I came out of isolation. So far this month I’ve only managed 104km on the bike due to the snow and ice of the last week so I’ve walked further than I’ve cycled.

© garmin connect

Finally one of the greatest benefits of walking is the positive impact on mental health. Getting out in the fresh air every day has lifted me mentally as well as physically. It has been my daily release. Similar to cycling walking is mindless, requiring very little focus or concentration allowing the mind to wander and release any stress.

Header image © Strava. 100KM Walking Challenge January 2021.

snow makes everything better

Turns out yesterday’s snow was just an indication of what was to come with heavy snow showers overnight resulting in a beautiful covering of snow for a bright and sunny morning.

I’d planned to walk the usual 4.5km before breakfast but was enjoying it so much I kept going for the longer 6km walk.

Lots of photos below but I could have taken hundreds. After yesterday’s mishaps I was particularly scundered* last night but this beautiful fresh landscape had changed everything this morning ☃☀

hungry neighbours 🐮
flying dog
really fancy an iced donut now 🍩

*scundered (scunnered in Scotland): one of the best emotion descriptive words I know, just one of the things we do particularly well in Ireland.

november

No sun – no moon!

No morn – no noon –

No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day –

No sky – no earthly view –

No distance looking blue –

No road – no street – no ‘t’other side the way’ –

No end to any Row –

No indications where the Crescents go –

No top to any steeple –

No recognitions of familiar people –

No courtesies for showing ’em –

No knowing ’em –

No travelling at all – no locomotion,

No inkling of the way – no notion –

‘No go’ – by land or ocean –

No mail – no post –

No news from any foreign coast –

No Park – no Ring – no afternoon gentility –

No company – no nobility –

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,

No comfortable feel in any member –

No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,

No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds, –

November!

No! by Thomas Hood (1884)

Really struggling to get motivated to cycle this month. I have lots of excuses. The biggest, and only genuine reason, is that the weather has been horrible, really horrible. My days off have coincided with wet and windy weather. I know it’s possible to go out with the right clothing but it’s not enjoyable.

just another difference between myself and sean kelly!

Since my Audax ride in the middle of October I have only been on the bike six times and my distance for November is as low as it has been for a while.

© garmin connect

Despite my lack of cycling motivation and excellent excuse generation I have been moving. I decided at the start of the month to try and reverse my declining activity by committing to at least one recorded activity (walk, run or cycle) each day of November. 22 days in and so far, so good.

© strava

This week I need to reverse my lack of cycling motivation as I’ve only got two more opportunities this month to complete my metric century for my 2020 challenge. It would be a shame to give up on it now with only two months left to go.

Header image by Gabby K from Pexels

lunchtime constitutional

Since my surgery the week before last I had become very sedentary. Most of the fitness I’d managed to gain during January was steadily fading away, I was sleeping badly and generally feeling crap. My mood was definitely not good and I probably wasn’t great company.

I figured part of the problem was that I wasn’t getting outside enough and using the excuse of the surgery to justify my laziness. I also figured that fresh air (lack of) was both the cause and the cure. The only time I was spending outside was the trip from the house to the car, the car into work and the reverse in the evening.

The easiest and most effective solution was a lunchtime walk. Buncrana is a seaside town and I’m just a 5min walk from the shore front so with sandwiches and a bottle of water in my pocket I hit the paths on Thursday lunchtime.

It was tremendously windy with a storm coming in but it was bright and sunny and definitely blew away the cobwebs. I headed along the shore front path skirting the edge of the park before retracing my steps and heading across to the Heritage Trail start and then back to work. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I slept soundly that night.

Friday I decided to explore the Heritage Trail more and this took me along the opposite direction skirting a small beach and out to the Life Boat station at Ned’s Point. I wandered a little here before turning back which left me very tight for time getting back to work.

Saturday morning was wet and windy but I was delighted to see it clear up by lunch and the sun come out in full force. The Ned’s Point walk was the perfect blend of distance and enjoyment so I repeated Friday’s walk. At times it was quite warm when sheltered from the wind. On my way back I met a very friendly guy from Tipperary who had relocated to Raphoe and was meeting a friend in Buncrana. We walked back to the Main Street together swapping stories and having a great old yarn.

One of the guys at work thinks I’m bonkers. He doesn’t seem to be able to understand the attraction or how I’m able to walk and eat at the same time.

3 days last week and I hope to repeat that this week. Let’s just hope that the rain stays away as it’s not feasible to spend the afternoon drying off and squelching around the shop!

murvagh beach

Judging by the forecast today could be the last day of Summer, or at least for a week or so. Combined with my day off we decided to head for a walk on the beach in the spirit of carpe diem.

picnic lunch in Donegal Town on the way

just the two of us as the boys were camera shy today

Some of the photos look very dark but it was bright and sunny for the second half at least.The Marram Grass in the dunes looked really, really green. I don’t think I’ve seen it in full flush before and it was impressive.

click the image to see the activity