mundane adventures in running
Walking is not running; running is not walking. That is why they have different names.
Somewhere (I think in this) I read that a good way to train for long races is to practice just staying on your feet for long periods of time. I’ve wanted to experiment with this for some time. I’m nowhere near fit enough to run for 24 hours, but I have been intrigued as to whether I can stay on my feet for that long, constantly propelling myself forward.
Given that a nasty trip on a soggy slope in crystal palace park a few weeks back left me with a minor groin injury which means running any real distance is out, that I felt the urge to do something epic before a busy period at work, that the weather here right now is beautiful, and that a good friend of mine has recently moved back to London and wants to reconnect with the city, it seemed like a good idea to try an in-and-out on the Capital Ring.
The plan was to start as early as possible in the morning from my house in Camberwell, get a bus down to Norwood (the closest place to us on the footpath) and head round the path in an anti clockwise direction. We had mentally split the path into four quarter sections, each of 30km or 6 hours. While this meant walking well into the night, I had imagined it would be easy, with the only serious impediments being mild aching, boredom and chafing.
By Stratford, I had realised that walking was far harder than I’d imagined. While I had some specific niggles from injuries, and the cheapo Decathlon socks I’d chosen weren’t particularly comfortable, it was the constant dull aching which really started to take its toll. My legs feel as though they were filling with lead, from the toes up.
By Finsbury Park, my spirits were lifting, but my companion’s were flagging considerably. I train more than he does, so i think it’s no wonder I was feeling slightly more spritely. We agreed to stop at Highgate and head back to mine for dinner.
While it was a dnf (did not finish), and we failed to set a course record for the Capital Ring, it was a great experience, and I learned a few things.
First, being on your feet is in itself exhausting, running is a separate exhaustion on top of that. There’s a base level of exertion in just walking, just staying on your feet and plodding forward takes it out of you. This is something which is more adequately measured in time than in distance: it’s the amount of time you spend doing it which is exhausting, not how far you get. I believe if I had run the 60km in 6 hours, it would have been less knackering than walking it in 12 (although I would ache way more than I do now).
Second, you have to train for long distance walking. I am reasonably in shape for running, but there’s something missing when it comes to walking. I really don’t have time for regular 12 hour walks, so I’m not sure how I would go about it. I wonder if a combination of running and strength training put me in slightly better stead than my companion, but it wasn’t enough; I couldn’t have walked the full 120km.
Third, I love running round the Capital Ring, but perhaps it’s not the best footpath for walking. You get less excitements-per-time when you’re traveling at 5kmph. It’s a lovely path, but perhaps one to do at a slightly quicker pace.
Fourth, the signposting at certain points of the path is lacklustre to say the least. If you’re planning it, I’d recommend buying a guide, or properly learning the path before you start. on the eastern side, the real problems are at Clissold Park, Springfield Park, and at the roundabout by Galleon’s Reach DLR.
We still feel we have unfinished business, so the plan is to try the other half of the circuit later in the month. Next time it will be far easier. Now I know it’s possible to walk 60km, and that even if it hurts and feels difficult in the moment, it’s not going to do me any real damage, it’s very easy to look at stage 2 as a fun little jaunt instead of a mentally difficult challenge.
For what it’s worth, stats are here, do note that a technical error (me putting my phone in flight mode to save battery) meant that we missed the first 5k or so. Also that we took the ferry at Woolwich so we could have a sandwich and a stretch.
Orientalism in Norwood.
The oldest megfauna sculptures in the world
Hitting North London.
Moody skies, pretty pub, Crackney.
Stokey cemetary. Starting to flag
How I felt by Finsbury Park.