Walking from John O'Groats to Land's End in the winter of 07/08.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

General Tips

Don't worry about failure or focus too much on the destination. It is the journey that is important, no matter how long or where it eventually ends. If your challenge is going to be a life changing experience (and it may not be) then it will be in the months you spend on the trail that this will happen, not just the final seconds. Enjoy it and don't wish you were already at the finish line.

Try not to pay too much attention to injuries. More often than not there will be some muscle, joint or patch of skin that is having a good moan, but if you keep on going it is likely to sort itself out. If you are still maintaining a good pace, then it isn't serious. Of course when you do finally repair yourself, and are looking forward to some trouble free miles, something else will always pipe up. Keeping positive and motivated when all this is going on is one of the toughest parts of the experience. Many people who end up completing the walk will have worried that some injury was a show stopper. Don't expect rest days to clear everything up either, it's not enough time.

A short day is almost as good as a rest, with the advantage that you're still making progress and things aren't seizing up through lack of use. Long days are satisfying but are best as an unplanned response to good weather and fitness rather than big scary monsters looming on the horizon.

Initially have plenty of easy or rest days to build fitness. No matter how much training you have done, your muscles and joints will need time to strengthen during the first few weeks. If these rest days are in special places or with special people they can provide useful targets as you learn to motivate yourself to walk long distances.

Try not to fix your accommodation too far in advance. If you can be flexible, you can vary your mileage to respond to the weather and your own fitness. Plus there are always more accommodation options than the Internet knows about.

Don't neglect the mental side of the challenge, which is as important as the physical. Forcing yourself to train in bad weather or when tired or hungover is good preparation. It is also helpful to think through your motivations for taking on the challenge. They need to be strong enough to get you through the hard times, which is not the same as worthy or morally correct. For some bragging rights will be enough, others may need a higher purpose.

There are a number of other blogs online that give a good insight the experience, and are especially useful for mental preparation.

http://imsodave.blogspot.com/
Dave obviously has a talent for writing and his highly entertaining blog captures some of the mental challenges and paradoxes of the walk perfectly. His average mileage is very impressive, especially considering it was a winter attempt.

http://mylongwalk.com/
A really entertaining blog with injuries a speciality. If you get a bit of jip from your leg on the trail remember that Daryl didn't let a decent sized hernia affect his journey. The unconventional route is worth a look if you want to keep to the lanes and away from the bogs. He then came back this year to walk the other way.

http://www.alansloman.blogspot.com/
There are some great insights into a whole range of issues (not just related to LEJOG) in this well written blog. Alan's route was huge at 1687 miles but includes some lovely walking and hopefully will entice some people away from the usual West Highland Way/Great Glen Way option. The blog is also a good starting point for more reading as it links to a number of other really good blogs.

http://gayleybird.blogspot.com/
Prolific and full of insights into this year LEJOG and a number of expeditions since. Comprehensive and useful gear reviews complete this extremely well written blog. Essential reading.

http://www.roarm.blogspot.com/
A work in progress, Chris is writing up his journey after its sucessful conclusion. Very entertaining, so worth checking regularly for new installments.

Blogger blogs (like this one) produce a web page for each entry, so a nicer way to read them is to select the earliest post and then use the newer post links. This way the story unfolds in the correct order, without the flow interrupted by having to jump up the page after each day.

3 comments:

Alan Sloman said...

Hi Jim

Its nice to see another LEJOGer on here. (I did mine March - June 2007)

I am really looking forward to your account.

All the best
Alan

Martin said...

Hi Jim

I hope you can do some more on your blog - what I have seen so far looks like you used some interesting routes which I have not seen before - I'd like to add them to my route-planning page, http://www.members.aol.com/hockeylejog/routeplanning.htm, idc.

Cheers

Martin

Jim said...

Cheers Martin, I've been on holiday but I hope to get some more posts written soon (when I'm supposed to be working probably).

You're welcome to add my route to your site - getting to choose your own path across the country is probably one of the things that makes this challenge so special.