Tag Archives: walking

resetting expectations

Almost two weeks ago I wrote about how my motivation had slumped and how I was feeling lethargic and unwilling to get out and about. Having written that I had a bit of a lift. I think it was cathartic recognising and expressing how I was feeling. Later that week the weather also started to improve again getting warmer and a bit more settled. I decided to give the 30 Days of Biking Challenge a go as a way to change things up and maybe give me a cycling boost. I started well with 4 days done but then hit a mental wall again. This wasn’t helped by plummeting weather conditions and a return to very wintery weather. After a taste of Spring it feels like we’ve been catapulted back to the end of January!

On Easter Monday the forecast was for a wet and windy week with snow and hail showers also expected and I lost all interest in the 30 Days Challenge. In fact I pretty much lost interest in cycling for the whole week!

❄ 3″ of snow on my car tuesday morning! ❄

Since then I’ve spent some time taking stock. For the last two weeks I’d been getting progressively tired and fed up. I’d also started to develop pains in my knees and legs. Something was going wrong and needed to change. A number of the supportive comments on that last post mentioned Covid and/or overdoing it. Dpedece’s comment in particular stood out for me:

However, it seems to me that needing to take the lazy option means that something inside–mind? spirit?–needs healing. The lazy option allows the opportunity for that to heal.

I’ve been back at work now for 5 weeks and it’s been a big change. I’m in work from 9:30am to 6pm with a 45min lunch break. Apart from lunch I’m mostly stood in the one spot as, with lockdown, most sales and queries are coming via the phone. It’s pretty full on with the phone almost constantly ringing and possibly juggling 3/4 queries at once. It requires constant focus and concentration to ensure nothing gets missed or messed up while still maximising sales. That’s tiring both mentally and physically.

During my time off at the start of lockdown I steadily built up my activity and consequently my fitness. I was determined not to lose this by returning to work. I was also following Intermittent Fasting to try and get to my ideal weight. The table below shows my weekly activity plan going back to work.

Retrospectively now it’s a bit much and combined with work it was way too much! Additionally my sleeping pattern has been bad. To get an activity in before work I was getting up at 6:30am (away to work at 8:30am, home at 7pm) but most nights not settling down until at least 11:30pm or even midnight. No wonder I was feeling burnt out, I was and as dpedece said my spirit needed healing.

I’ve really dialled it back since Monday. The weather has stopped me cycling so I’ve just been walking and only once a day. Most days I’ve been able to have a lie in and I’ve been making a better effort to get to sleep by 11pm. I’ve completely given up on fasting by eating a small breakfast. At work I’m making an effort to reduce stress by not feeling that I have to answer every single call and dealing properly with queries before moving on to the next.

All of this has helped a lot. I’m feeling a good bit better and the pains are going from my legs. Mentally I feel a lot less wrung out and depending on the weather tomorrow I may even get out for a spin on the bike. Some of our restrictions are being eased and we are permitted to travel anywhere within our county boundary. It will be refreshing to be able to ride different routes and areas I haven’t ridden since October/November. Hopefully the customers I meet through work will also be in better form and more positive and thereby easier to deal with. There’s a rumour that winter may be retreating again later this week which will give everyone an extra boost 🤞

Header image by Castorly Stock from Pexels

a week of meh!

I finished last week on a pretty positive note with a really enjoyable 80km spin. Monday I started the week according to plan with a short walk and kettlebell session but wasn’t in the mood for a walk after work. Instead I took a lazy night sitting chatting with Catriona. Tuesday I was up and out for my short pre work 25km spin as usual and felt good. That evening after dinner I did go out for a walk and pushed myself to complete the 6km route to make up for Monday evening.

It all went down hill from then. I had an important household maintenance job to complete Wednesday morning but the plan was to cycle late morning/early afternoon depending on the weather conditions. Whatever happened overnight though I just couldn’t be arsed. No matter how I tried I just couldn’t get motivated for any kind of decent activity. In the afternoon I eventually talked myself into going to Monellan for a wander off the trails and through the trees. I did really enjoy that, bushwacking along the length of the river and exploring the wooded areas for possible camp spots. I also found a massive den, possibly badger but more likely fox that I intend to go back to.

The rest of the week was worse. The weather turned quite wet and windy on Wednesday afternoon and stayed that way for the rest of the week, even turning very wintry on Friday with snow and hail. This gave me all the reasons in the world to take the foot off the pedal and just drift through the end of the week.

I was able to get through the working day having found a system of dealing with the volume of phonecalls and messages without getting stressed but outside of that I had zero interest. I managed to push myself enough to keep my daily walking streak going but it was the bare minium of 2-3km just once each day with no cycling since Tuesday and no further kettlebell sessions. Somehow I clocked up a reasonable 24km walking for the week which surprised me!

© garmin connect

I also decided during the week that Intermittent Fasting wasn’t working for me, that I was too active for my calorific intake and that I wasn’t at my most productive during the morning at work. All this is correct but it gave me the excuse to eat very poorly for most of the week. I’ve been tired and out of sorts since Wednesday, feeling a bit rundown and at least some of that is probably due to diet and a bad sleeping pattern. It’s been another great excuse for taking the lazy option.

From Tuesday the weather is set to improve again and I’m hoping that the time shift to Summer Time last night and the resulting longer evenings will help me break out of this funk and get back on track. The plan is to restart the week tomorrow morning with the usual kettlebells and see how it goes.

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

february 2021 review

  • a full month of lockdown v3.0
  • lots of walking especially in the first half of the month: 201.5km in 31 activities with at least one walk every day
  • my longest walk was 21.72km, just over the half marathon distance
  • lots of cycling especially towards the end of the month: 568km in 11 activities
  • cycled 5 days in a row to end the month including my longest ride of 101.6km on the last day
  • restarted intermittent fasting and dropped approximately 2kg
  • a mixed up month of multiple storms and long cold, dry spells including signs of an early spring
  • homeschooling continued for two seriously fed up teenagers
  • got the call from work with a restarting date
  • almost a fortnight of amazing sunsets

february in photos

a week of cycling

Just over a week ago I was complaining about the weather and how it had stopped me cycling for 8 days. Well, that changed this week!

© garmin

To put that in perspective I’ve cycled further in the last seven days than I did for either of the whole months of December (173km) and January (206km). The dramatic change is down to a big improvement in the weather. Spring (or is it “fool’s Spring“) finally arrived on Sunday and somehow managed to hang around all week. Tuesday was the only blip as another storm blew in but it was a price worth paying for the rest of the week.

It’s taken a toll though, going from virtually nothing to this level. Last night I was very tired. My legs were aching and this morning I had an annoying tightness in my calves. My original plan was to get my February Metric Challenge spin done today but yesterday’s spin, with a very tough climb in the middle, was the wrong preparation for that on top of the rest of the week.

click the image to view on strava

I decided to switch my 100km plan to tomorrow and instead went for a 26km recovery spin this morning. My legs are so much happier this evening which should make tomorrow a lot more enjoyable.

I’ve managed to get a decent variety of spins too. Four of them were reasonably hilly varying from 32 to 62km on similar but slightly different routes, one was a cadence interval session on a flatter route and today was an active recovery on the same route.

The last two are something different for me. I’ve never really done a proper interval spin or recovery ride before. The cadence ride was a mix of low/high cadence to build power in my legs and today was a proper high cadence, low power/heart rate ride. Riding slow and easy is more difficult than you would think but I definitely needed it today and focused to make sure I did it properly.

click the image to view on strava

I’ve also managed to keep up the walking. As the evenings are stretching out I’ve been able to get home, get cleaned and changed, eat and relax for at least an hour before going for a decent walk. The last few days though I’ve stopped carrying the additional weight as my legs have tired with the consecutive days of cycling.

© garmin

photos from the week

The weather is set to continue with no rain forecast until Sunday next week and thankfully a respite from the pretty strong winds I fought for most of last week. I also got news that I’m needed back to work at the end of next week so I plan to make the most of this good spell and get March off to a good start while I have the time.

© met eireann

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

january 2021 review

  • started the month and year on the summit of Errigal at dawn
  • walked 128km over 26 activities
  • cycled 205km over 4 activities
  • longest walk 9.1km
  • longest cycle 105km
  • contracted and recovered from Covid19
  • laid off as part of Lockdown Ireland v3.0
  • 4 days of snow towards the end of the month
  • finished the month with a family walk and a visit to Mackle’s at long last
january in photos

Header image by Olya Kobruseva 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.

a walk in the woods

A Walk in The Woods by Bill Bryson

From Goodreads:

The Appalachian Trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America—majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaining guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way—and a couple of bears. Already a classic, A Walk in the Woods will make you long for the great outdoors (or at least a comfortable chair to sit and read in).

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I came to this book having watched the film a few days ago. The film is decent but I had a feeling there was more to the story in the book. In an unusual flip I found the book was enhanced by having seen the film. Sure, some of the scenes were modified, switched around or simply invented for the film but the spirit of the book is definitely there. What really enhanced the book though was Nick Nolte’s excellent portrayal of Katz. I couldn’t help but see and hear him jumping out of every page and piece of dialogue. Despite how it happened he ended up being a perfect casting choice.

Katz is the success of this book. Bryson himself is very straight, introspective and sometimes abrasive and arrogant. Katz provides the comedic element but also some of the most emotional and thought provoking parts of the story.

It’s hard to think of this book as non-fiction or a travelogue but it’s both. There are lots of negative reviews on Goodreads, mostly based on a negative view of Bryson but I really enjoyed it. It provides a great view of what it’s like to walk a long distance trail and also a nice historical record of how the AT came about. There are many interjections about how the nature of the American wilderness has and still is changing. Probably one for people interested in hiking and camping though.

Header image by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels