Wednesday, 9 August 2017

No Fracking Way - Physical limitations

When people asked about what physical preparation I made so I was able to walk the No Fracking Way I generally replied that I received some good advice, " 120 miles in 5 days? Don't do it!".

As a guy who could do with losing a pound two or more realistically a stone or three, I approached the task with a certain amount of trepidation. Having come up with the whole idea and fronting it up, the prospect of making a complete 'balls up' of it and having to drop out after a day or two would not go unnoticed and be quite embarassing. Some degree of preparation would have to be done. The walk between our house in Brockholes and Civic Centre 3 in Huddersfield Town Centre was exactly five miles. I tried to get as many of these walks there (and occasionally back) as possible just to build a bit of stamina and confidence. I could bomb along quite happily. It was just like leafleting without having to walk up the driveways and I could do that for hours. On average it took me about an hour and ten minutes. So given the fact that our longest walk was supposed to be 30 miles all I had to do was times my morning walk to work by 6 and it would all be done in 7 hours. This of course assumed no breaks for lunch, no stopping for 'natural breaks', no late starts and no days when we didn't quite make where we were scheduled to be at the end of each day. All of these things happened to some extent or another so we ended up walking from 7.00 or 7.30am most mornings till the sun started going down at dusk at around 6.00pm. So pretty much 11 hour days with occasional breaks.

I and my fellow walkers were in pain to a certian extent a lot of the time so a couple of paracetemol with breakfast helped. No drug testing on the No Fracking Way fortunately.

Compression tights
I did get some good advice besides 'don't do it'. The best advice I had was from my old friend Robin was to wear compression tights to sleep in. Normally if I do a long stint of walking for several hours after a long leaflet drop I'll wake up in the morning with stiff legs and walk like your average 90 year old for a couple of hours. After the first night I woke up in York took off the tights and I was amazed it actually worked and the legs were fine. Feet on the other hand were a different matter. I got some good advice on footwear from the Manager at Outdoor World on the Piazza in Huddersfield, which seems to be having a permanent closing down sale. He was really knowledgeable and got me lined up with a good pair of Merrell walking shoes with plenty of cushioning and '1000 mile' walking socks. All good but 10 hours + pounding on tarmac a day takes its toll. I got off relatively lightly on blisters but all of us in the Core Group of walkers got blisters to some extent or another. We discovered the joys of Compeed. Huddersfield Green Party Chair Simon Duffy had told me about Compeed, the plaster that you put over the blisters which then acts like a second skin. We were all using this wonder material that enabled us to carry on walking and according to its website it also helped women in poorly fitting high heels dance all night as well. Though blisters weren't that much of a problem for me the tiring effect on your feet of walking on tarmac meant that every time there was a nice level grassy verge I'd end up walking on it for a bit of relief. Having a camelback in my day sack filled with water and electrolyte to stop me getting cramps was more good advice. It also meant I could drink easily out of a tube without having to go in and out of my bag.   Other physical effects of the walk were a certain amount of chafing here and there and the application of soothing creams to tender areas was essential. No more detail on this will be provided you will be relieved to know! Except I'm told it is the area "between the Funfair and the toilets".  Don't ask!

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