I used to be fit, I mean really fit. I played rugby for every school I went to from the age of 11 and my University and then a local club. I also played American football for Manchester and was a big gym user. I qualified as a NABBA body building coach and have been training partner and helped prepare many local, regional and national level body builders. The ‘old me’ is below.
I got married, had two wonderful kids slowly stopped going to the gym. Over a period of 15-20 years I got massively overweight and lost any and all of the muscle and tone I formerly had. The photo below is me with still about 1.5 stone to add in for good measure.
It all came to a head when coming back from a business trip when I couldn’t bend down far enough to tie up my laces. This was the moment when it was time to do something. I started off at MuscleWorks Gym in Bethnal Green, and adjusted my eating. The weight started falling off, and I then started including weights back in again, and good weight started to come back. I was 17.5 stone and had 38% body fat. I am now 15.1 stone and down to 17% body fat. I have lost 15Kg of ‘weight’, 26Kg of ‘fat’ and gained 11Kg of muscle. My goal is 12% body fat with a little more muscle, which I should have in the next six months.
The Blind Veterans UK 100km Walk
Towards the end of March I saw an advert on Blind Veterans UK Facebook asking if I was tough enough. Something made me click on it and in a moment of complete lunacy I signed up for the 100Km London to Brighton walk. Basically I needed something to show myself the journey I had come on. You don’t tend to see the small changes in yourself, so something like this I know I couldn’t have done 2 years ago; in fact I would have struggled with any of the training.
This is me now – taken 2 weeks ago for a photo-shoot for my new gym – GymBox Farringdon, as one of their most inspirational members.
Before I started walking I decided I needed to sort out the correct kit to get used to it for walking in, prior to the big day in June. I have gone for the following:
Merrell Refuge Pro
Super comfortable from day one, and tough enough for the walk.
I am now using two pairs of socks, one inner and a dual-outer.
Injinji Toe Socks
These stop blisters between the toes and work brilliantly. I added these after suffering bad blisters between the last two toes on my left foot. These stopped them.
Technically 1000-mile socks are two pairs in one. An outer and inner, and these stop conventional rubbing blisters, in fact they guarantee this. However I need the Injinjis as well to stop the between toes type. Together they are superb and Sunday’s 8 hour walk was a breeze.
Bear Grylls technical T-Shirt by Craghoppers
Used this for the first time on eth 8-hour training walk – genuinely superb.
Regatta Thompson Lightweight fleece
This in combination with the Bear Grylls t-shirt was warm at 0 degrees, and at 4 degrees had to just walk in the t-shirt only.
Trousers are to be decided – currently walking on track suit pants with lycra under armour shorts underneath to stop my legs rubbing together. I have bought a pair of proper walking trousers, with removable legs in case it gets too hot. Although whether I’ll inflict my legs on the rest of the walkers is debateable.
As I am getting quite fit, I decided to push myself a little and chose to follow the intermediate training plan. The weekday walks are really easy as I have been walking further than these 4-5 days a week for the last 18 months, so they are covered in the normal training routine.
The weekend walks have been tough – but not ridiculously so. First weekend on the program was 2 x 4 hour walks, one Saturday and one Sunday. I covered 25Km on both with no real issue – realised though that pacing was a bit fast to be kept up long term. Both walks were OK; I ached a bit after them, but nothing too bad. I also developed a couple of blisters on my inner lower heel. I am describing these as compression blisters, as I believe a piece of hard skin on the base of my heel – is a different shape to the inside of my trainers, so have now taken to pumicing my heels the night before walking and seems to work great.
The second weekend was a 6 hour walk, I covered some 35Km – over 1/3 of the final distance. The compression blisters were nowhere to be seen, however I developed quite a large one on my left little where it had rubbed against the next toe. I researched and found some ‘toe’ socks made by a company called Injinji, designed originally to be used in the Vibram 5 finger toe trainers, but lauded by walkers as a great liner for stopping just these blisters. So I used them as liners for my 1000-mile socks on the 8-hour walk over the weekend and have to report were a complete success.
As already mentioned this last weekend was an 8 hour walk, which was a little daunting as is basically a working day spent walking (gulp). However when it came down to it was actually fine. I covered 43Km – about 500 yards more than the London Marathon, and a good slice of the final distance we have to walk on the day. No real aches or pains to speak of, in fact walked in to work today from the station – 4.5Km, and was no problem at all.
Photos From Training Walks
When I am walking I take various photos of the mere I use as a circuit – a mere is a lake fed by run off water, not by a river! So now you know. Here is a selection from the last 3 weeks. All untouched by photoshop and taken with a Sony Xperia smartphone.
For more training tips and updates about Ian’s challenge, follow his blog ‘My 100k Walk’.
If you’re inspired by Ian’s motivation and determination to train and take on the Blind Veterans UK 100km walk, you can sign up too! Visit the walk 100km website. The event takes place June 22-23 and is in aid of Blind Veterans UK.