You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body […]
that can endure any kind of toil […]
What I commend to you, you can give to yourself;
For assuredly, the only road to a life of peace is virtue. — Juvenal
Over the last couple of weeks, as the departure date hurtles towards us, my response to the friendly greeting ‘How’s the training going?’ has increasingly assumed a more-than-slightly panicky brush-off. It’s not proven possible in the normal school run of things to get much exercise of any significance done.
When time has allowed over the past seven months we’ve done a few large-scale set pieces: last summer, a three-day proof-of-concept on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, carrying all we needed for camping. Paring kit down I think we had in the order of about 9-10kg, which seemed an eminently sustainable weight, but what we did learn was that you can’t really carry all the water you need walking six hours in a heatwave, and we hadn’t counted on there not being anywhere to refill our platypuses along one 22km stretch.
This September walk in the Brecon Beacons wasn’t so much a training walk as a leg-stretch and a vision of the horizon before getting our heads down into the new school year, but it was a good day out and an opportunity to talk a few logistics through for the real walk. A slightly more active version of what has been my usual armchair training regime.
In the October Half Term we spent an exhilarating week in northwest Scotland, intending to test some really long days in the hills. We didn’t so much manage that (shorter days than we’ll have in the summer, cold conditions above a certain height) but we did get some cracking walks in. We also beta-tested our waterproofs and thought about how we needed to eat to fuel the walk (porridge and lobster).
After such an invigorating and bracingly healthy half term, things went predictably downhill all the way to Christmas – that traditional festival of Epicurean over-consumption. We didn’t disappoint ourselves, sybaritically stinting on nothing and rationalising to ourselves that after all, we will need to carry some emergency on-board calories for the aforementioned Road of Trials.
This term, full of New Year resolution and spurred on by the inexorable passing of time, we have been variously going to Pilates, turbo-training (not me, of course), getting in some gym sessions (also not me) and doing the Strength and Conditioning exercises we have been set by our coach Simon Woodward. Not being someone whose bent is particularly physically effortful, and although I thought I would hate lunges and step-ups, I have been surprised and gratified by the results of Simon’s plan for recruiting various muscle masses. Final thing is to fix a stretching routine.
So: with a month to go until Le Grand Départ, it was time to test out the new gluteal powers on the College’s annual Ledbury Run, sweeping the route behind the runners for 12.5k (just under half a day’s walk on the End-to-End route) from Ledbury back to Malvern over the hills. And an opportunity also to experiment with one future plan for the blog: a flythrough 3D video of a route with photos.