Monday, 20 March 2017

TGO Challenge 2017: Getting Organised: Limbering up

As someone who has done a fair bit of planning in my time, the first thing to bear in mind is that Plans Always Go Wrong. However, if you start out without a plan, things stand a much greater chance of going horribly wrong. 

Lord Elpus counts himself a fortunate man. He has Miss Whiplash to beast him around the footpath networks of Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire. Mud holds no terror for Miss W, and Poor Phil gains his phenomenal fitness gritting his teeth against snow, hail and icy blasts straight from Siberia. This punishing regime starts as soon as he returns from the Challenge in May. It is a year-long struggle.

Like most years, my plan for a general level of readiness for the TGO Challenge is straightforward, and I might say, more gentle. Starting in the New Year, I walk on average three miles a day until the start of the Challenge in May. Three miles a day doesn't sound like a lot, but if you miss a few days you have to catch up the missing miles, and then you realise that it's not quite so easy.


Of course, you don't want to walk on roads, because down in the south east of England the roads are very busy and wherever you live they are hard on your feet. But more importantly walking on level surfaces won't prepare the soft tissues in your feet, ankles, knees and hips for a walk over the rough ground found in Scotland.


A recent discovery is a nature reserve at the northern edge of my patch. The entrance sign says permits are required and the gate to the reserve is locked, assuring you that you are not welcome.


However, right next to the reserve is the wonderful Chawridge Wood, an abandoned coppiced wood. 



The footpath network hereabouts is well signed and generally in good order, with a few glaring blackspots where stiles are overrun with very spiny bushes, seemingly deliberately planted by one particular landowner.




Can you spot the deliberate mistake in the next picture?


After a slow start, I've finally dragged my carcase back up to and now passing the planned mileage. I have almost fifty miles in the bank, which is probably as well, as the weather forecast for next week looks poor. 

And finally a spreadsheet and graph. Because I love both. I know you do too.


And now, from two years before England won the World Cup, here's one for OM.


  1. Well done with the training!
    I found it pleasantly surprising how many quite interesting walking / training routes can be accessed from your (my!) home.
    Since moving home to what initially appeared to be an area that offered little in the way of interesting walks of decent length, I've now found I can be in the Cheshire countryside in a very short time indeed. Long walks from my front door are a reality, it just takes a little imagination - and a map.

    1. Maps, eh?
      Overrated nonsense, Sir! Moss on tree bark and the prevailing noise from the M6 should be more than enough!

  2. If you watch the film with George C Scott playing General Patton, and look carefully in the background when he is addressing his troops (prior to D Day I think), you will see a blackboard on the stage with Patton's motto, the "6 Ps" chalked up:

    Persistent Practice Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

    1. General Patton, eh?
      Yes... I think I could morph into his character readily enough.

  3. Impressive regime. Indeed not much on the surface but cumulatively it's not long before the distance adds up.

    I suspect my dismal failure recently had much to do with a lack of "rough" miles. Despite knocking out 10km a day, every day, they were treadmill miles with no loaded pack. The best I could do with the business travelling life I've led of late but not good enough. It's back to normal for me now though, with no international travel for my new job and a shift pattern that should allow me regular time on the hills.

    Looking forward to reading all about this years TGO!

    1. Dismal failure, eh, Sandy?
      My life's full of them Sir!
      It's getting back up and biting the bastards that does it for me.
      Good luck with the new job and more time on the hill, Sir.

  4. My training will consist of a Dales trip this weekend, 2 x Lakes trips, a few trips to Peaks earlier.
    Locally some bike rides.
    But mainly, my training consists of owning 2 Labradors, that think a 5 mile mimimum daily walk, regardless of the weather is an acceptable norm. We are in constant disagreement about this, but their rule of Law is paramount. ☺

    1. I see you're selling stuff over at Battleship Bottisham.
      I'd stick those hounds on the list, Sir, and take a well earned break on the settee with chocolates and beer.
      You've earned it.

  5. I signed up to walk with you and Lord E on the understanding that you would both struggle to get up from the breakfast table at the Strathcarron Hotel and would need a rest on the way to the front door. I appear to have been deceived in the most cruel manner. 😐

    1. But it's true, I tell you! It's so much more decadent to sit back, have another pot of coffee, a few more slices of toast and marmalade, and then browse the lunch menu...

      Let the other chaps dive off, signing the register in a lather of panic stewed Gore-Tex and head off into the lashing rain. After lunch the weather is always better, and you'll have had a couple of beers to settle the nerves.

      That's why we always plan a sensible first day, sir!

  6. There's been lots of rain recently, too. That also must surely be good training.

    1. I was at lunchtime today Missy, and of course the heavens opened. Perfick training...

      Why can't they move Scotland to the Mediterranean? Think of the advantages - No Glaswegian dialects to contend with, no midges, great breads, and wines... wall to wall sunshine.

      The Sainted Nicola would surely endorse being closer to the European Union.

    2. And there'd be lots of melons too...cut in half and filled with port. Delicious.

    3. And what has Scotland got to offer in their place?
      Bloody oatcakes!
      Coast to coast across Italy sounds better and better every passing minute.

  7. Nice fencing - much better than barbed and razor wire stuff which seems to be so much in vogue! I came across a short run of fencing yesterday, topped off with razor wire: there were two points of access along the fence - a stile and a separate gate a few yards away. Why the landowner would think that anyone would need deterring from climbing over the fence is a mystery.

    I wonder if a Wildlife Trusts membership counts as a permit for access to Chawbridge Bank, or if you'd need something more formal (plus someone to meet you at the gate).

    1. Having fallen foul of barbed wire fencing in the past, and still have the scars to prove it, I'm dead set against the use of the blasted stuff.

      The gate was padlocked, so I presume you need a little more than a permit. It is odd though, that the website makes no mention of requiring any permit or key. I'll email them to find out.

  8. You unutterable bastard.

    Thanks to your published training regime, Miss W has determined that I am falling well short - just an 8 miler on a Sunday, which equates to a miserable 1.14 miles per day (mpd).

    "This will not do!", she exclaimed. You need to catch up with Alan.

    "I always need to catch up with Alan", I explained. "He has longer legs than me. Extra miles won't make my legs any longer, but with that excessive mpd, his are possibly getting shorter".

    I knew that she wouldn't accompany me on a daily 3 - 4 miler, so I returned to my crossword, satisfied that I had successfully scotched this assault on my pre-challenge torpor.

    But no.

    A mistress of delegation, she recruited bro-in-law, the redoubtable Hobbsy, to take me to the Yorks Dales on Thursday for a couple of days 'shakedown'. Hobbsy, having been under the lash for a couple of decades longer than me, carried out his mission with excessive zeal.

    So it was that we accomplished 8.8 miles and 1,150ft on the afternoon of our arrival (in gale force winds I might add) followed by a Friday slog across bog and rock in driving rain and hurricane like wind, racking up 13.75 miles and 2,150ft of ghastly upwardness. It rained so much and so hard that the headwind managed to drive moisture through my eVent trews!

    Oddly the Paramo jacket worked fine (thank the good Lord).

    And then, then, on my return home, stiff and groaning, she took me out on a brisk 8 miler to "loosen me up".

    I'm a broken man, and it's all your fault. On the plus side, though, with 38 miles under my belt, I can now take 12 days off and still average 3mpd :-)

    1. Blimey, I thought the TGOC was all about comradeship, food stops, exotic wildlife. Oh, and uphill walking, obviously...

      I never realised mind games and psychological warfare were so prevalent.

    2. ...comradeship, food stops, exotic wildlife...

      Comradeship? I've already a VeryVeryNiceMan at my throat, Lord Elpus has his throat gripped firmly by Miss Whiplash, and now I'm an unutterable bastard. With friends like these who needs enemies, Dave!

      Psychological warfare and mind games? Eight and a half miles so far this week...

      Philip: 3,300 ft of uppishness. That's a thousand metres, man! You should have surely been able to nobble the nark in the pub on the first night. What were you thinking??? You fully deserved your soaking testicles, Sir, for lack of gumption and foresight. You knew Hobbsy has gigantic legs powered by a nuclear reactor.

      As for exotic wildlife, if ever they reopen the public bar in the Fife Arms there's a Chinese lady to be found within with a voice like a bandsaw.

  9. ...I'm catching up again... crack on πŸ˜†

    1. That, Missy, is excellent news.
      You'll soon be fighting fit again.
      Just... Don't do a Mad'n'Bad and screw it up by rushing at it. You had excellent fitness prior to your op, so take it gently and you'll be back there in plenty of time for the Challenge.

    2. ...seem to be doing okay...back up to distance but not quite the speed. Although, that's a good thing, means I'll be used to trundling along at Challenge speed right from the start 😊

    3. That's excellent to hear, Louise.

  10. Graphs are good. And a little bit of S&G is never a bad thing. (Although Bridge Over Troubled Water has been played too much IMHO). But I especially like the photos. The woods and the tree both look splendid.
    I've always subscribed to a little and often regime, but have done so rather more scrupulously recently and am feeling the benefit. Three miles a day sounds fantastic. (No less a wit than Bertrand Russell recommended 6 miles a day). Good luck with both the training and the Challenge.

    1. It's great to hear of your increasing scrupulousness (is that a word, if not it damn well should be?) Sir!
      Mine has slumped somewhat this week, for no particular reason other than sloth. Looks like Sunday had better be a long one...


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