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Nordic Walking…Then some Stalking?

The week has gone well, having completed the New Years celebrations, the wife and boys took the decorations down, that’s it we are in a new start phase, so lets break out a gym membership, make a load of promises we will never fulfill. Or why not just have a good look at what is required to succeed.

I have been using the GARMIN watch and its training tools to assist with my interval training. Not noticed any weight loss but I am seeing some change in my shape…positive. Absolutely exhausted after the turbo trainer sessions, but my bum is less sore.

My wife (Deb) gets off to work quite early so as I was off for a couple of days whilst she went back to work early I got a bit of me time and decided to try and do a speedy lap of our local reservoir, using walking poles.

I don’t normally walk full on with poles but I have been looking at Nordic Walking websites and videos as I have heard positive things about how it can help posture and the fact that it is low impact and good for musculo-skeletal issues, so it might work for me, as bits of me are slowing down and not working as well.

I pounded round the lake clattering my poles off my ankles, and bouncing down the steps like Bambi on ice. I have to say I felt pretty good and improved on my posture, it seemed to lift me up, but I was confident I wasn’t doing it right.

As a result I had a look on line and found a link on the Nordic Walking website for https://chasenordicwalking.co.uk/ and the owner Simon Booth-Lyons. I made a booking for a taster sessions as he was offering one at Cannock Chase which is just outside Stafford, and it was free.

I arrived at the location just off Milford Common to be met by Simon and two other ladies who professed to be casual walkers.  I think Simon thought I was a hardened mountain man, but my ruse was soon exposed. He was a really nice guy, with a relaxed style and a fun outlook.

All the kit you need is a good pair of walking shoes, and outdoor clothing. Preferably layers as you do get a bit warm. Simon provided the poles nad you can try out a few styles.

The session is at a steady pace and he provides the equipment, with nice clear instruction, and after a bit of chat we set off with the basics to start the exercises, which involve arm swings, progressing into use of the poles and then onto a little more pace, with up and downhill included.

Despite a little bit of tick-tocking (same arm and leg action at the same time), we all soon got the SWING of it (sorry).

There is no hard sell for kit and he does suggest coming back on a beginners course which is £40 for three weekends and then you get a passport for Nordic Walking UK and some discounts for kit. There are also weekly walks listed on his site to improve the social element, and ongoing fitness.

An excellent session and a good introduction…i am going away to play with the concept.

Having completed the 45 minute session and said our goodbyes I decided to make use of the day and headed up to Glacial Boulder car park on Cannock Chase. This is a location I have used a great deal over the years for Duke of Edinburgh award expedition training and some good night navigation.

The Chase is a great location, full of history with a wide and varied woodland and moorland mix of terrain and wildlife. You will also find a wide variety of activities like mountain biking, general walking, orienteering and bridal ways for horse riding. Have a look at https://www.forestryengland.uk/cannock-chase-forest

I was a photographer’s assistant in a former occupation, and still use cameras in my day job, so I have a bit of a passion, albeit I lost touch with the photography recently, so I took the camera, and did a bit of wildlife watching and stalking.

I plodded about seeing odd glimpses of Roe Deer as I walked, so I decided to perch up next to a silver birch and watch the scrub where I last saw three Does, whilst I ate my salad and had a hot chocolate. Much to my surprise as I sat, not more than 50 metres away were the three I originally saw and three young males. Hopefully my title photo will illustrate them. I managed a few photos before they were spooked by a group of youngsters enjoying the fresh air. Well chuffed with my sighting.

That’s enough I think as there is a bottle of Running Duck purchased from https://www.whitebridgewines.co.uk/ which needs to be finished off and I think I deserve this one, having pushed hard all week.

I am hoping for a few more followers and will keep you updated on the antics of an aging outdoors enthusiast, and maybe my kit I purchase after today, but I need to get the arm swing right.

Thanks for reading “Inspire to achieve”, and I will see you out there.

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My Boys, Mud, Laughter and Hot Chocolate.

New Years eve 2018 and both our boys are at home. Liam the eldest lives in Edinburgh where he is completing a PhD in Physics, and Jordan the youngest lives with us, working in my brothers car spares business. https://www.sheltonautospares.com/

It is rare for us to be together at the same time as work normally gets in the way, but we all had time off together over Xmas, and decided a paddle was in order.

Jordan is the quieter of the two, and to some degree the less adventurous when it comes to the outdoors, whereas Liam has engaged with the Duke of Edinburgh award and also coached canoe and kayak when he was younger. A placid and local enough adventure was called for which accommodated them getting up a bit late. (Typical youngsters).

We loaded the boats and gear, and as it was a bit grim a few bits of sustenance and the obligatory flask of water for a hot chocolate, and decided on the Cauldon Canal at Froghall, as it is about 20 minutes away from home, runs alongside a steam railway and is also quiet enough with no narrow boat traffic as it runs to a dead end.

This is an ideal location for start as it has toilets, a small parking area next to the wharf for unloading, after that you can move vehicles across the road to a larger parking area. It does get a bit busy at weekends.

If you are in need of refreshments at the start or when you get back Hetty’s Tearooms just off the wharf can be highly recommended for all sorts of snacks, main meals and tea / coffee. http://hettysteashop.co.uk/

If you want to look at the location for the paddle it forms part of the British Canoeing heritage trail for Staffordshire, the link is below.

https://www.britishcanoeing.org.uk/uploads/documents/Heritage-Canoe-Trail-Stoke-Short-Route-Guides.pdf

It was a great paddle if a bit wet due to a constant mizzle, and we plodded along with Liam in the touring boat and Jordan along with me in the canoe. The route passes alongside the Churnet Valley Railway, so it wasn’t long before we managed to catch sight of an American steam loco pulling a full compliment of carriages as it passed towards the Black Lion Pub at Consall Forge, where there is a good stop for refreshments if you want it.

There is only really one portage up to the pub, so muddy knees were my privilege as we got in and out with style; bumping into a retired work colleague who was walking his dog, which proved a welcome stop and catch-up. The longer run through to Etruria Industrial Museum in Stoke on Trent has a four portages, but all are straight forward apart from Shelton which has quite a high side.

Stopping at Consall Forge by the Lime Kilns we decided it was time to break out the rations, a slightly dry mince pie and a banana, alongside a thick hot chocolate (Aero is the favourite).

By this point 4 kilometers in it was starting to go towards dusk, and the boys decided that despite having waterproofs on it was getting towards the turn round.

My plan will be to talk about kit soon, but keeping it on the cheap which I know helps a lot.

Have a look at local routes and don’t be afraid to consider canals as they are a lot cleaner than they used to be, and normally have the odd hostelry alongside for a stop. This was a nice 8.56 km route, out and back and took a little over 2 hours, not counting our short stop.

Weight loss and fitness are still on my agenda, but don’t want to bore you too much.

All the best for the New Year, and hope to pick up a few followers and await comments.

Well-man or Not?

Right…I am a tad overweight, and recently had a bit of a “well-man” or not so well-man check up at the Doctors. It highlighted that my blood pressure, cholesterol and point score for diabetes was all too high.

I have been here before and know that over the past 18 months I have dropped the ball a little due a number of home issues and a little bit of being bone idle.

I am always reluctant to take pills and potions so as I did it before I have decided with guidance and support of the practice nurse to sort this out with exercise and a change of diet, although our diet as a family is not too bad.

How?

I don’t feel like I want to do the gym this time, I got bored despite loads of support. I also hate wasting money unless its something I can see a benefit from in other areas (such as kit I can use across other disciplines). I do love toys.

I have a number of older pedal cycles, one of which is a KONA cyclocross, which is a heavyweight bruiser I purchased over 8 years ago. It’s now on the turbo trainer in the shed. I think you are getting the picture that I have been fti and healthy in the past, and have definitely dropped the ball.

This is about me getting back on track. So I’ve started on the turbo trainer. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is basically a modern form of medieval torture, which causes severe pain in the backside as the saddle on the bike is like a razor. I am stationary in the shed, with the back wheel on a frame attached to a roller, with no airflow, gasping for air as my lungs burst through exertion. I am also sweating like a dray horse, and I mean sweating, not glowing. I have a mix tape (old skool) on my iPod which varies from Five Finger Death Punch to Chas and Dave.

Intervals is apparently the best way forward, so I have set the challenge of 20 minutes, doing a 30 second high resistance then a low resistance 1 min 15 seconds.

Measuring it all with my new toy a GARMIN Fenix 5 watch. (“You said you weren’t sponsored?”). I am definitely not, but you will see GARMIN features in my favoured kit as it does do a variety of roles, in particular this one as an altimeter, barometer and route tracker; as well as providing tools for tracking excercise. Also I have been a good boy and Santa said it was a nice toy.

One of the beauties of this method of training is it is High Intensity (HIIT) which allows a short training time for maximum effect. It also means I can pop out tomorrow for a steady paddle in either canoe, kayak or SUP with my boys.

I am now exhausted, sitting in my Lycra leggings, please don’t judge me, needs must. I have managed to peak out on my heart rate and smashed out 8.8 kilometers in 16 minutes. Covering good range of threshold and aerobic and anaerobic excercise, so a full workout.

Tomorrow will be an easy day paddle as the GARMIN shows that you need rest periods after exertion. I will update you as things progress with the general health improvements in particular the blood pressure, which is more of a concern.

Cheers and catch up with you soon.