When we booked the 4 day walk I was thinking how lovely it would be to walk the “Turquoise coast” in the autumn sunshine as a sort of chilled out break away from the impending UK frosty winter. I certainly didn’t think it would be physically challenging, but I was very wrong!!
We were given a route map by a local company who arranged for our bags to be transferred by taxi to the B and B we would walk to each day. On the face of it the walks, although reasonably long (15-20km) didn’t look too challenging, but if you add bouldering, vertical climbs, picking your way through rock gardens, sharp shards of loose shingle underfoot and about 28 degree heat to the mix it suddenly takes a whole different look!
By the end of day one (after a 7.5hour ‘walk’, a twisted ankle, lots of blisters and a few crossed words) we felt toasted and fell into bed soon after we arrived. By the morning however, and after a very plentiful fill at breakfast, the pain of the previous day wore off and we felt able to tackle day 2. This was a walk up one side of a mountain and down again the other side; total ascent = 1000metres (again!!). We missed the entrance onto the path from the village so started the day with a climb up the rock face to hack into it 2 km down the path. It was exhilarating as it was stupid really, but anyway I am not sure we were in the mood for back tracking to cover extra mileage to start the ascent in the prescribed manner! We climbed all day until about 3pm and spent a couple of hours in the afternoon coming down again, the climb although difficult was actually less painful than the treacherous descent as the gradient was so steep and the ground so poor that the knees took an absolute hammering. Queue day 3; an undulating route taking us up and down 3 peaks of 200, 500 and 300 metres respectively – another 7+ hour day which was hotter than the previous 2 but somehow as we were over half way through and acclimatised both in the temperature and psychologically not as bad as it sounded. At points we chose to swim along the coast as oppose to walk where it was feasible on this portion but on the whole the day was good, possibly the best of the lot albeit a tough one. Day 4 was relatively easy, only covering 8km in total and most of the gradient was down hill, really an amble in comparison so we took advantage with as much swimming, and photographs as possible….
The 4 days were extremely tough, our legs took a battering and the blisters are still evident; our muscles took a couple of days to recover and walking has taken on a whole new meaning to me! Before we go again (which we have already vowed to) we will definitely do some physical preparation. For these kind of walks I am planning on a couple of months of long distance hiking once or twice a week in combination with: squats, deadlifts, lunges, Bulgarian lunges, side lunges, weighted step ups, single legged squats and a few plyo exercises in like wall balls, split jumps and some mountain climbers only because they are so aptly named!
We know the perils of sitting all day; which culminate in bad posture, tight weak muscles, poor core strength and back pain. But did you know there are also physiological responses to being seated as a result of fat deposition and burning less calories compared to standing relating to cardiovascular and kidney disease?
The case seems strong for getting up off our butts and working at a standing desk, however it isn’t all as clear cut as that:
Firstly given the choice to work at an adjustable height workstation studies have shown that after 1 month the majority of people are sitting! Why would this be? Perhaps because fine motor skills are easier to control when sitting because being seated helps stabilise the body? Or because standing in one position without movement isn’t very comfortable?
Actually standing without movement is not what we should be aiming for, it has long been known to cause varicose veins by putting greater load on the cardiovascular system. 20% more energy is required (calories) to stand so it should be a good argument for the case but most research points to movement being necessary whilst standing. Recently treadmill and bike work desks have found favour on mobility websites and the like, however sales are low and the desks are not receiving good feedback. Tests show that computer performance decreases (ie more mistakes are made) using this type of arrangement.
So whats the answer?
Well no need to go out and buy an expensive adjustable height desk, instead keep your seated desk but make sure you get up from it and perform some movement for a couple of minutes every half hour. Oh I’ve known this for ages I hear you say! Yes but the problem is that people get so engrossed in their work it becomes impossible to pull themselves away from the desk.
Sometimes a simple linking trick works for example every phone call needs to be taken/made whilst standing. Or every time a cup of tea is finished you need to stand up to take the cup to the kitchen and wash it. And for others this just isn’t enough, I have found a great website here that has a selection of PC, mac or phone apps to download to remind you in various ways to get up and move about a bit…
Not best known as a fan of faff I dubiously set up the Mi Coach on my laptop. Id say my computer knowledge is of an average standard, perhaps my patience is slightly lower than average….however this task in itself presented me a few difficulties. The instructions that come with the product are vauge and assumptive, but with the help of someone a little more patient and a couple of huffs later I managed to acomplish the synchronisation.
My first run with it was what Mi Coach calls a free run where i was able to specify what data from a list of about 8 variables i wanted to collect. The foot pod is based on a stride sensor rather than a GPS and although I didnt have to enter my stride length it seemed to record the overall distance impressively accurately when I checked it on google maps later.
I noticed whilst running was that even though I didnt have a narrative in my headphones I knew my run data was being collected which in itself somehow pushed me on pace wise! It inspired me to program the thing for a coaching run.
Navigating the Mi Coach site was testing and there didnt seem to be a comprehensive nor user friendly help section, what i decided to do was use on of the pre programed race plans to work on my 5k time. The structure of the plan was brilliant I really really liked it.
Mi Coach bases either or in combination (I havent sussed this yet) your heart rate and stride rate on coloured zones. You go from blue to green to yellow to red zones with incresing intensity. Each run has a variable proportion of colour in it depending on your program specifics. You choose the narrative voice from a list of about 10 (too cute for my liking) and plug your MP3 player into it and off you go.
The narrative fades your music to zero when you need to change your pace and commands “speed up to green zone” for example or “slow down to blue zone” and then your music continues. You get a notification at a quater, half, three quaters and 5 mins before the end of your run.
I thouroghly enjoyed running like this, I never once had to look at a watch on my wrist, which I often find distracting as it seems to break my concentration plus I have to make some sort of mental calculation with the data. Having a simple “speed up”, “slow down” or “maintain” command really worked for me.
Synching the unit with the laptop post run couldnt be easier…you just plug it into the USB on your computer and it engages automatically, and directs you to the Mi Coach site where the data you can view is presented either graphically or numerically. Although once again finding what you need on the site is challenging I thought. I managed to stick to the plan for 97% of the time which Mi Coach told me was excellent…I hope i dont let her down next time! 😉
In short its great having someone in your ear pacing you, Mi Coach is light, small, portable and im very much a fan of the coloured zones rather than the raw data being the parameters to work within. Where I would suggest this product could do with improvement is the site navigation and useability