Contemplating a walking challenge as big as the London to Brighton Trek? See how OF reader Emma Brien trained for walking 100K…

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Before taking on the London to Brighton Trek in June, Emma (and her fellow walkers) committed themselves to regular training sessions so that they could be as ready as possible for the 100K that lay ahead. Here’s a run-down of her training:

Training walk 1 – 8.1 miles

The weekly training walks began in February of this year with a walk around Washington, taking in Penshaw Monument hill along the way. At 8.1 miles, the first walk might not seem that far for some but for a fitness unenthusiast like myself, this was tough going. Not being able to catch my breath at the top and my legs screaming in pain wasn’t the best feeling, but it did feel good to get the first walk in the bag.

Training walk 2 – 9.8 miles

This walk saw an extra 1.7 miles added and I felt more confident with this one, although the wind, rain, hail and snow did not help spirits.

Training walk 3 – 12 miles

I tried to complete this training walk on four hours’ sleep after a night out. Not a good idea. Not only did I have aching legs, I was also physically sick. This is definitely not a recommended training style. On the plus side though, after 12 miles, my feet were still felling great.

Training walk 4 – 14 miles

I’m quite surprised at how well my feet are holding up. My knees and hips on the other hand have not fared so well. The pain between mile seven and 10 was so bad, I almost refused to go on. Time to get a supply of Nurofen.

London to Brighton Trek 2015

Training walk 5 – 13.4 miles

Although a slightly shorter distance, this walk felt a lot harder. Walking cycle tracks is so dull, even with good company. Better get used to it though because I’ve heard the majority of the actual London to Brighton is cycle tracks. On the pain side, my right side seems to be taking the brunt of it. My right ankle, knee and hip are all screaming for me not to continue but, mind over matter, I will do this!

Training walk 6 – 15.9 miles

Hello sunshine! Walking in the sun has definitely lifted my spirits and I made it to mile 12 pain-free. It’s such a good feeling to know that my fitness is progressing week by week and that I might actually be able to do this challenge. My right side is still the main source of my pain, I’m starting to think that I have one side shorter than the other and it’s making me walk wonky! Still no blisters though.

Training walk 7 – 13.7 miles

Goodbye sunshine, we are back to the rain and sleet. Note to self, I must buy waterproofs. This walk actually felt good, which is something I never thought I’d be saying, but I’m looking forward to the Easter break.

Training walk 8 – 17.05 miles

Another note to self, do not have a week off from training! The first 13 miles of this walk were brilliant, slightly achy but nothing that I couldn’t deal with. The last five, and especially the final mile, completely broke me. My body hit that 17 mile marker and would not go any further. For the first time, my feet were on fire. I’m actually beginning to understand the actual distance of the London to Brighton Trek and I’m having doubts about being able to complete it.

Training walk 9 – 19.86 miles

I am so happy this week following the doubts of week eight. The sponsorship money has started coming in now. Knowing that people are behind me in this challenge and that they are willing me to do well, has been a massive boost to me. The training walk itself was tough. I turned into a walking grumpus at mile 14 due to the pain in my hip but thanks to my brother (and some liquid Nurofen) I made it.

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Training walk 10 – 20.18 miles

I wasn’t looking forward to this walk – judging by the pain of last week – but it actually went well. I bought some new gel insoles to help cushion my feet and they seemed to do an excellent job. I feel that this may be a turning point in the training; either that, or it’s the pain killers talking.

Training walk 11 – endurance over distance

Off to the Lake District we went four our 11th walk to hike Fairfield Horseshoe. This is a beautiful but strenuous hike rising to an elevation of 2488ft. It took eight hours to complete and it’s safe to say that my feet felt every last minute towards the end. Going from sunshine to snow-covered peaks with the addition of some rock climbing during the descent, I loved it all!

Training walk 12 – 18.24miles

The backs of my knees were so tight, it made it difficult to walk at times and seemed to make the pain in my knees even worse. Beautiful sunshine today resulted in severe sunburn to my shoulders. I must remember to wear sunscreen from now on.

Training walk 13 – 22.64miles

The longest training walk we’ll do, and boy do my feet feel the distance! Still no blisters, which can only be a good sign and my shoulders were very grateful for the sunscreen. Another realisation hit me today that this is our longest training walk but it is only a third of the actual trek. I’m determined to complete the trek but the nerves are starting to kick in.

Training walk 14 – 17.05miles

Walking along the cliffs from Roker to South Shields might not have been the best of ideas with high winds. I felt like I was battling all the way and walking at an angle, so needless to say my knees are not thanking me right now. I must remember to get knee supports before the trek.

Training walk 15 – 6.12 miles

This walk showed how far I’ve come during training. Nice and relaxed and no pain whatsoever. I think I’m ready…

WORDS & PHOTOS: Emma Brien

Read Emma’s race report of the London to Brighton Trek 2015 or check out the kit that got her through this gruelling event.