Archive for the ‘Training’ Category


Bow hunting?

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Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games has helped make archery popular again. (Photo courtesy Lionsgate.)

“How are you going to get away with carrying a bow?”

I look at him deadpan, trying to figure out where the joke is in his question. I blink, waiting for the punchline. Nothing.

“What do you mean, a bow?”

“For hunting,” he explains. The remnants of our lunch are collected neatly on a tray, and he points to it with a smirk. “You’re not going to be stopping at Subway when you’re over there, are you?”

Well, no. This is a more common question than I would have expected – with a focus on period-style tents and heavy steel armour, most people are only now realizing that we won’t have insulated coolers or a car to jet out to the nearest pizza shop during our trip.

Historically, my friend would have been right – we would have supplemented the less-than-appetizing rations in our packs with game like rabbits or squirrels. If we were especially lucky, we may have shot a deer, though that would have taken us the better part of a day to properly treat.

Brave, opening this weekend from Pixar, is said to be very realistic about shooting, but does it teach bow care too? Probably not.

Beyond the mess (and the time it takes to clean it up and turn a dead animal into dinner), taking care of a bow is a great deal of work, especially an accurate one. Oiling the wood, and keeping the bowstring as dry as possible; re-making arrows (with new fletchings if necessary); ensuring that the bow is safely stored when walking to make sure that undue strain was not put on the stave… suffice it to say, all things that would be unnecessarily difficult during our walk through rainy Scotland.

Thankfully we have alternatives. On our training walks we have been bringing bakery bread, hard cheese (specifically gouda, which is both delicious and doesn’t need to be refrigerated), and either beef jerky – good protein, long-lasting – or prosciutto, a dry-cured, thinly-sliced ham that lasts for days outside of a refrigerator.  We will be doing something similar in Scotland, possibly substituting some hard sausage for the prosciutto, and adding in apples, nuts, and berries to our diet to keep us going over six hours of walking every day.

Do you have any favourite foods that will keep over a five- or six-day stretch between cities? Leave them in our comment section below and let us know!


Training Walk: March 31st

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In two weeks’ time, we will be doing a Toronto training walk – and we are inviting you!

Here is your opportunity to see just what a training walk is like for the Wayfarers. Our route will be 28 kilometres (17 miles) long and will circle back on itself, so if you intend to stick with us the whole way you can park or subway to and from the same place.

We will be starting at High Park Subway Station, located at High Park Avenue and Bloor Street West, at 9:00am and will be leaving by 9:15am at the latest. We’ll walk south through the park and across the city on Queen Street, walking north at Coxwell and then back along Danforth. With one short fifteen-minute break after our second hour of walking, we will be stopping for lunch at the Court Jester Pub at 609 Danforth Avenue – just west of Pape Avenue – at around 1pm, aiming to leave again at 2:30pm for the last stretch of about ten kilometres.

Throughout our trip we will be posting to our Twitter account (@QuestfortheCure) to update with pictures and locations for anyone who would like to meet us partway.

What should you bring, you ask? If you intend to be with us the whole way, bring comfortable clothing and good shoes – and make sure you’re wearing appropriate socks, too! Your feet aren’t the only part of you that will be sore by the end of the day, but they’ll be the worst off unless you’re very careful.

Bring a water bottle and some snacks – things like trail mix or even just peanuts are great. We’ll be stopping here and there on the way but we don’t want to make too many trips to convenience stores, since every trip will hold up the whole group.

Plan for the weather – if it looks like rain, bring a good coat and maybe a hat. If it looks like sun, a hat is still a good idea! Sunscreen is a good idea too, even though it’s still March.

Finally, bring money for lunch – you’re going to want to eat it, I promise! – and plenty of smiles and laughs. The best part of these walks is companionship, and we’re going to be spreading the word about the Wayfarers while we walk!

Will we see you out this month? Let us know in the comments section below!


Trial Run

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Last night at about six thirty, I had an epiphany.

It was long-since dark, and I was walking along a stretch of Lawrence Avenue, a street that runs from one side of Toronto to another with a few minor interruptions. The snow that had blustered in that morning had turned to rain in the afternoon, coming down in a steady, light fall that was almost mist at times.

I had decided to walk long before I knew about the weather, but with my sweater’s hood up and my long, ankle-length coat done up fast against the rain, I was comfortable enough. My hands stayed in my pockets as I watched the traffic splash through the street, idly thinking about the trip I was, ostensibly, training for even then.

It wasn’t until about halfway through my four-kilometre walk that I looked at my phone, curious. My Weather Network app opened quickly and confirmed what I had thought: that very weather was the worst I was told to expect in Scotland. One degree Celsius. Rain.

And it wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t great, of course; my socks were damp despite my weatherproofed boots, and it was chilly. But I wore layers – fewer layers than we’ll have available to us in Scotland, no less – and wasn’t uncomfortable at all. My hood was keeping my head from getting wet, something I know makes me uncomfortable after a while. A pair of gloves was all I really wanted – and I added that to my phone’s simple list of things to bring with us to Scotland. Walking for four kilometres in that weather was no worse than walking it in any other non-perfect weather, and a fair bit better than walking it in the too-hot, sun-burning weather that I trained in all summer.

We’re coming for you, land of William Wallace and dreary skies. And we’ll be ready.


A Perspective on Training

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How far do you walk on any given day?

According to a study published in the “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise” journal in 2004, the average American takes between 5200 (women in the study) and 7200 (men in the study) steps in any given day – adding in average stride (2.2 feet for women; 2.5 feet for men), if you are an average woman you are walking a little over two miles a day; as a man you’ll walk, on average, a little under three and a half.

Say you take a walk during your entire hour-long lunch break – if you’re walking at a normal pace, you’ll add maybe three and a half miles to your total – you’re at six or seven miles, now. Not too bad!

This Saturday, the Wayfarers will be walking almost three times that. Going to a total of 17 miles, we will be doing an “average day’s walk” for our trip. We will take about five and a half hours of hard walking to do this, with breaks interspersed to make sure we don’t overextend ourselves and end up with an injury.

At the end of March, though, we will be holding a public training event – that’s right, we’ll be walking in the great outdoors on Saturday, March 31st and inviting anyone who wants to join us to come along. About a week before the date we’ll be posting our starting location, and during the walk we will be “checking in” on FourSquare and tweeting our location to the world-at-large to try to raise awareness!

Mark your calendars and learn your stretches – we would love to see you out!


A New Way to Train: Yoga

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Last week, I did something that a year ago, I would never have considered doing: I joined a yoga club. Two of my coworkers had been discussing doing yoga in the lunch room for a few months, and found a very good deal at Yoga Tree, for unlimited yoga for your first month for 40$.

I honestly didn’t know what I had really signed up for. I had heard that yoga was a good tool to relax the mind, and figured I would get some stretching done as well, which couldn’t possibly be a bad thing leading into the Quest for the Cure.

We signed up on Tuesday at the location closest to our office and saw that the 6pm Wednesday class (the most convenient one for us to do right after work) was a Reduced Heat level 2 class. We were informed that beginners could do level 2 classes, though we were likely to get tired at some points, but we could lay down on our yoga matt and rest while the class continued.

I rested often.

The reduced heat class was advertised at 28 degrees Celsius, but the thermostat in the room indicated 33 degrees Celsius, which is nearly the number that hot yoga was advertised at. Our teacher let us know that the biggest hurdle for beginners was that in level 2 classes certain pose names were announced, and it was expected the student would do the pose without instruction. Needless to say, I looked around a lot when we were told to do downward dogs and other – at the time – unknown yoga poses.

The class was 90 minutes long, and I believe only included one 15 second break before we reached the wind down time at the end of the class. Sweat dripped from my forehead as I strained to stay in difficult positions. I took many more personal breaks, but always tried to do every pose for as long as my strength allowed me.

I learned quickly that advanced yoga was not easy!

The next day, we went to a restorative yoga class. This class was much more relaxing, and likely the only thing my sore body would have been able to handle. The teacher had a soothing voice and told great stories, and I learned to control my breathing. Simply focusing on breathing can greatly reduce anxiety, something that will come in handy on a 500 mile journey. There was some stretching in this class as well, all of which I was able to complete.

On Saturday, we took part in a beginner yoga class. I learned how to perform a half sun salute (I may have the name of the move wrong), the child’s pose, though not nearly all the terms I had heard during my reduced heat class. This class was very informative, though I would have liked to have learned more positions at the expense of some stretching. It likely should have been my first class.

Work sent me out of town this week, so my next class will be a level 1 hatha class on Saturday. I hope to attend at least 10 classes before my unlimited pass runs out. Mixing in learning snowboarding on every Saturday this month, I believe that I will feel sore more days than not.

Yoga is not easy, but it sure is fun and relaxing at the same time.


Training on Treadmills

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On January 14th, four of the Wayfarers got together at LA Fitness for a training walk. Dan has a membership at the gym, and they were kind enough to allow the rest of us to go inside on a trial membership.

The goal was for everyone to walk about 27km: an average day on the Quest for the Cure.

The treadmills had a maximum time of 60 minutes per use, so the idea of a small break every hour worked quite well with the equipment we had to use. It was my first time walking an extended period on a treadmill, and turned out to be quite enlightening.

I am a man of numbers, so I used my phone to track the distance I walked every time I got on the treadmill. Our plan was to walk about 5 km/h, in order to attain our goal in 5 hours and 24 minutes of walking.

After a couple kilometres, I could really feel the lactic acid building up in my legs. I could walk 5 km/h, but doing so at such an exact pace was something I had probably never done before. I did my best to ignore the feeling, and before I knew, it was easy to walk again. After the first hour, I was right on pace with 5.02km walked.

I stepped off the treadmill for our 5 minute break, and experienced a very odd dizzying feeling. Walking for an hour without the world moving around you and then stopping led me to feeling like things were moving that were not. I began to walk, and then it felt like the world was moving around me while I wasn’t – though I knew that I was clearly walking. Within the break, the feeling passed, and each time I got off the treadmill as the day passed, the feeling was less and less pronounced.

The second hour, I kept the same pace up. I tried to play a game on my phone while walking, but after a few minutes realized it was more trouble than it was worth. I walked 5.03km. We took a bit of a longer break at this point, and agreed that after the next hour, we would stop for lunch.

About 40 minutes into the third hour, I was growing bored with walking and checked the settings of the treadmill. I found a rolling hills option that changed the elevation of the treadmill as I walked. I turned it on to level 1 just to give it a try and even increased the speed a tiny bit. I walked 5.16km.

Lunch consisted of a Subway Club at the sandwich shop and a break of at least one hour. We returned to the gym with only 12km to go out of our original 27km.

While at lunch I decided that I would continue with the rolling hills, and turned those on for the entirety of the fourth hour, and yet again, slightly increased my speed. I walked 5.34km.

My man for numbers came out in me during that last hour, and I decided that while turning rolling hills on made for a better workout, they wouldn’t increase my total distance walked, which I was tracking. With just one hour and 24 minutes to go, I decided to up my speed instead. During the 5th hour, I walked exactly 6.00km.

I still felt great so with 24 minutes to go, I wanted to push my limits. I set the treadmill for 6.h and periodically brought it up to as high as h (as fast as I could walk without being forced to jog) and managed to walk another 2.52km.

The total I walked on treadmills that day amounted to 29.07km.

While I was able to do these distances in these times on a treadmill, I do not believe that the Wayfarers will be able to walk at nearly these speeds in the real world. I was surprised that I was never more tired than at the 2-3km mark on my walk and was proud of myself to simply push through that phase. I suffered for my pushing the next day, as my calves were extremely sore. I figured this was a good sign, as my pushing lead to gaining some strength in my legs. I’ll need to gain plenty more in order to be able to walk this distance every day for a month.

As a reminder to those who read this blog, there are still tickets available for Robbie Burns night this coming Monday. Even if you have prior engagement or are coming that day, please pass on the message and let your friends and family know of the event. We are going to have some great items up for auction, and you’ll go home with a full belly and some great parting gifts, while having supported a great cause.

The Wayfarers are looking forward to seeing everyone on Monday!


Long Nights by the Fire

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This weekend, I went camping for the first time in years, although we ended up being able to fit everyone in the nearby (heated) cottage. We were only a few hours out of Toronto, near Durham, but we still could barely tell there was anyone else for miles – and the highlight of the night (after dinner, at least) was the campfire. I ended up volunteering to watch it alone for a while, while the others went inside for dessert, and I realized that I was kind of getting a glimpse into how next year will be:

It was cold. The half of me that wasn’t facing the fire, despite being wrapped in warm clothing, was freezing (we woke up with a layer of frost on the grass).
I was exhausted, despite not doing much that day, because I wasn’t bathed in artificial light and attached to the internet.
It was extremely dark – if I faced away from the cottage I could see nothing but the fire.
I was completely alone outside – and I had nothing to really think about. Next year, we’re going to be doing rotating watches, so more often than not I’ll be spending two hours a night doing exactly that – but I had a hard time with the ten minutes I spent on Saturday night. This should be interesting.

What would you think about, sitting alone staring at the fire for two hours in the middle if the night? How would you resist falling asleep?


Heavy Armour, Hard To Carry?

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My armour is probably the most visible thing we’ve worn to date on our public training walks. It has gotten a few comments from people, from ex-SCA players to people who wanted to know if we were making a movie; some people have wanted to touch it or even try it on. (Sadly, I have to turn down the ones who want to try it on – I would have to take off my pack, and I’m always worried that once I take it off I’ll never convince myself to put it back on…)

In a recent article on the Science NOW website, some researchers at the University of Leeds did tests on a person’s energy output when walking in 30-50kg of plate armour and found that it expended “more than twice” the energy that just walking did.

The linked article explains that a lot of that comes from leg armour, of which I won’t be wearing much – greaves, sabatons and cuisses are just things I do not own and likely won’t by the time we leave (though if you’re looking to get rid of some…). My chainmail and other armour is mostly arm and torso protection; while the arms are far enough away from my centre of gravity to cause a bit more wear, the fact that I can swing them close (or even fold them, if it comes down to it) will mitigate that.

The armour is heavy, and it certainly takes a toll – I was more tired after my last training walk than the one before it, despite more training in between them, because of the armour being worn. I also just received more armour that I’ll be wearing – some plate for my arms and shoulders – which adds probably 15-20 pounds by themselves. I’ll be doing a full weigh-in on my entire kit very soon so that everything’s accurate by the end of it all, mostly for my own interest.

In addition to all the gear we’ll be carrying – tent, food, cooking ware and health supplies – this armour will be a great strain across my back that I can’t share with the rest of my party. As I play D&D – fairly regularly again, starting just a couple months ago – every time our characters stop for the night I imagine how it’s going to feel to take off the armour…

… and I realize that they don’t, if they want to stay protected during that first watch.



First Taste of Snow

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Until just yesterday, Toronto had not seen much snow at all this winter.  We had seen some flakes falling here and there, but never had it really stuck to the ground longer than an hour or two in daylight.

Yesterday was a combination of rain and snow, and as the temperature fell over the course of the day it became more and more snow.  And ice.  By the end of the evening, as I walked home from a nearby mall, there was still an unpleasant amount of slush on the ground but it was rapidly freezing.

It has been easy to walk through the entire Toronto autumn this year, and until today I was wondering if it would be a problem in the winter as well.  This morning I woke up to a heavy layer of snow over everything and slippery ice hiding beneath it on the sidewalks even from my front door to the bus stop, so I am finding myself doubting the chances of finding another weekend in the near future to do an impromptu 20km training walk like Andrew and I did a few weekends ago.

The gym I have been attending for over a year now is kind enough to allow us to train there on guest passes, so sometime in the next month we will be gearing up for a terribly boring 28km treadmill walk.  With the treadmills we will find it easier to keep pace, since they won’t let us slow down to enjoy the scenery – but with the same lack of scenery the walk will seem a lot longer.  I usually aim for about 5 kilometres per hour when walking, so including a half hour break after the first 10 and an hour’s break for lunch after the first 20, we will be looking at just under seven and a half hours at the gym.

I enjoy my time at the gym for the most part, but a big part of my love of walking is the scenery – seeing places, seeing people, even places I’ve seen before.  Removing that and just walking the treadmill can be dreadful, even during my regular weekday workouts of one or two hours.  Walking a treadmill for six hours will be a challenge in and of itself.  Hopefully having the rest of the Wayfarers with me will help.

What do you do to help occupy yourself at the gym?  Do you listen to music, watch the TVs that some treadmills have?  Let us know in the comments here or on Facebook!


A Training Run for Kids with Cancer

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As the clock ticks closer and closer to 2012, the date we leave for the walk is approaching. This has me looking into what I could do to further motivate myself for training. At work this week, Glen mentioned the Sporting Life 10k Run, so I decided to check out their website and see what it’s all about.

The purpose of this race is to raise money to send children with cancer to summer camps. This aligns quite well with the Wayfarers’ goals in the Quest for the Cure, so that was certainly a positive start. The date of May 13th was far enough away that I didn’t have anything planned yet. (Note: a quick check online led to the discovery that May 13th is Mother’s Day. Mom, I hope you understand why I won’t be able to visit on this weekend. I’ll make sure to call you when I’m done the run!) The date was far enough away that I had time to train, and still well in advance of when I leave for the Quest so it wouldn’t interfere with any last minute planning.

The route is very similar to portions of training walks I’ve been on walked before, so I don’t believe the 10km will feel too long. Also, and thankfully, it’s mostly downhill. Not finishing where I’m starting is less than convenient, and has made my decision to take public transit there and back is better than trying to find parking with my car.

I’ve never done a 10km run in my life, and yet, I had to select my time when registering. The fastest selection was for less than 48 minutes, which I didn’t even want to attempt to get into. I’ll let the faster people leave at 8AM without me there to slow them down. I settled for the third group, with a time of 56 to 59 minutes, with the hopes that I will be able to get myself in good enough shape to run the race in under an hour. I don’t want to admit that it will take me more than an hour and that I will be slower than half the people doing the race. I have a standard to meet now and thus, motivation for training.

With the snow outside now, I’m not even sure where I will be training just yet. The idea of signing up to a gym has come across my mind. I believe seeking professional help to get in top physical shape for the grueling journey of walking approximately 26km a day, every day for four weeks, is certainly a good idea. Having a treadmill to run on and practice doing 10km inside, before taking my run outside in the spring, would also be beneficial to training for this run.