Welcome to the latest Wareable diary, easily our most ambitious series ever. Our UK team is taking on the Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones 2017 on 15 July 2017 and as part of this, we're partnering with Currys PC World to put the latest tech through its paces.
It's a 100km race, that covers some challenging terrain, and is one of the toughest fitness challenges in the UK.
Of course, we'll be using wearable tech supplied by our friends at Currys to tackle the challenge – gearing up with outdoor watches and sports devices, not to mention some other tech along the way.
The race itself can be tackled a number of ways: as one 100km run or walk, two 50km stints with camping in between or one 50km race. Whether we run, walk or crawl it's a daunting distance. So, in this inaugural Race to the Stones training diary, meet the team involved and read how we're planning to tackle the toughest of challenges.
If you feel up to the challenge yourself, find out more here.
James Stables, executive editor
I'm not going to lie, covering the distance for the Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones is daunting – but just how frightening that is really depends on how it's covered. My own fitness is fairly good and my half marathon antics last year – as covered in my heart rate training diary – are giving me the confidence that I can knuckle down to the training.
But I'm also more competitive than I let on. For me, the Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones challenge is about crossing the line as quickly as possible. But I also know that realistically, in 16 weeks, I'm not going to turn myself from a competent half marathoner into an 100km ultrarunner.
So let's break down this challenge.
100km is 62.1 miles – which is the measurement that makes most sense to me. If I was to run the whole way, the best I could do is 12 min/mile (I would normally run 8 min/mile in a race). That would be a time of 12 hours. And even then, it's not that realistic.
But what if I walked all the way? Well, an average speed of 3 mph (difficult but more achievable than running) would put my finishing time at 21 hours. Not too shabby.
Mike has discussed running the race over two days, stopping at the halfway basecamp, which seems very difficult (two, back-to-back ultramarathons). And because you HAVE to start the race between 7 and 8am on day two, he'll getting up for his second ultramarathon when I'm in the car, on the way to the pub. (For the record, an ultramarathon is anything longer than 26.2 miles/42km).
So, at the moment, my race strategy centres on a walk/run combo. Attack the day and grind out the night time. Try and run around 30km of the 100km distance then try to mitigate some of the tiredness of being on your feet for 21 hours. It's going to be hard, but I believe that's what will get me across the line fastest.
So, what about the tech? Well, this week I'm going to be checking out the Garmin Fenix 3, which is one of the most powerful outdoors watches out there and a Wareable favourite. It's great for walking, running and trail running – which pretty much sums up my training.
Michael Sawh, editor
I'd like to think that I'm ahead of the Wareable team training for Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones. I've already been clocking up the miles for the Edinburgh marathon in May and I'm still keeping to my New Year's resolution to complete at least one race in every month in 2017. So I've been sacrificing the big nights out since December to fit in those big weekend runs.
When the plan came through for this though, the prospect of clocking in another marathon as part of the training scared the heck out of me. The last time I did anything close to that was taking up an invitation to run the Paris marathon two weeks after Barcelona. I say run, but I did a fair bit of walking simply because my body had not recovered. Now I have to contemplate doing that and more in just two days.
The idea of doing 100km in one day just doesn't feel realistic in my current condition. This kind of challenge needs serious training and I'm already worried I might be cutting it fine. Mentally though, I'm prepared to give it a go over two days. I know the hours of running will be gruelling, but I'm looking forward to the mental battle as much as the physical one.
In terms of devices, my first stop is going to be the TomTom Spark 3. As I'm going to be hitting some long runs, the mapping features are going to be a huge asset, and from Wareable's own testing, the heart rate tech is to be relied upon.
Sophie Charara, features editor
When I first heard the words "ultramarathon" I thought no, no, no, this is how you die, in the middle of the Chilterns with a bunch of people who do normal marathons as a warm up.
And yet, as soon as I decided not to try to run any of this and just go for walking and walking and walking some more, I felt better. Also: FOMO as the whole team is doing it and I'm a history geek. I believe there was talk of Roman river crossings?
First things first, I need to start walking more. Like, all the time. 10,000 steps a day just isn't gonna cut it. I had a quick Google around and it looks like 10km = approx 12-13,000 steps, fewer if you're taller than my 5 foot 3 inches. So that means 50km is… 60-65,000 steps. And 100km would be 120-130,000 steps.
No you're hyperventilating.
The furthest I've run in a race setting is 10km last year and the furthest I've walked in one day is around 30km for a charity challenge in the Outer Hebrides (and that was a few summers ago). I distinctly remember hitting 70,000+ steps on the Ben Nevis day of a three day Three Peaks challenge too. I was wearing a Jawbone so, you know, it wasn't recently. But this is reassuring.
This time around I'm going to try the Fitbit Alta HR. A reliable step tracker with a week of battery life, the added heart rate tech will ensure I can see the benefits of my training, and if I do start to up my workouts, it will be up to the challenge.
As you can probably tell, I'm a half enthusiast, half reluctant participant in these sorts of challenges, mainly because I worry that I'll have to stop drinking as part of the training. I'm doing it, though, flying the flag for brave beginners. If you're doing the Race and are in a similar sitch, I'll see you at the back, yeah?
Paul Lamkin, editor in chief
I'm not completely unfit. But I wouldn't say I was completely fit either. I'm certainly not ultramarathon fit. Not by a long shot. I am not ready for this.
I'm regularly (two to three times a week regularly) running, anywhere between 5 and 12km depending on my mood. Two or three times a year (plus the same again in training) I've done 1.50-odd half-marathons. I like doing halves, they give me a reason to keep running each week. But I've never had a burning desire to run a full marathon so it's anybody's guess as to why I've signed up to basically do two and a bit in one go.
My plan, originally, was to run some, walk some, camp overnight. The camp idea is becoming less and less appealing though – despite the promise of beer and a ready-made tent and bed. Do I really want to cover 50km in one day and then drink five beers (it's always five beers with me, it's never one or two), sleep in a tent, and then get up at the crack of dawn and do 50km again the next day? Unlikely I'd be able to, let alone want to.
So, my plan is to train to do it all in one go. My training schedule will not only get plenty of running in my legs, but include some huge walks too. It's an eight hour walk from my house to the end of Southend Pier (the longest in the world, no less). I quite fancy that. I still don't fancy my chances of finishing the race, though I'll certainly give it a good go.
As an Android Wear guy, my watch of choice has to be the Polar M600. Heart rate tech on-board, accurate GPS run tracking and the fact it plugs into Polar Flow mean it should be a top partner for my training.
Conor Allison, reporter
Since the team first discussed the Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones, I've spent a considerable amount of time thinking about how to tackle it.
As someone whose running experience is limited to the odd 10km run, though, trying to ramp things up and jog even half the race feels like a massive stretch. With that said, I'm also the youngest on the team, and feel some misplaced sense of responsibility to try and avoid walking as much as I can.
So, what's my training plan – my strategy? Well, I'm going to try and keep things fluid and not really have one. The more I lay down targets for distance, times and other wild metrics, the more likely I think I am to wind up having an existential crisis.
Between now and the race, I'll simply be running as much as I physically can. The hope is that this can help carry me to the halfway mark with my legs still relatively intact and ready to recharge ahead of a rough second day.
I've got my eye on the TomTom Adventurer for my training. It received a glowing review on Wareable, has walking and running modes built in and uses the same route tracking technology as the TomTom Spark.
It's also worth noting that, at some point during this diary series, you'll see me gaining in confidence as my fitness sees marginal improvement. Just be aware it's all a preamble to some kind of run-crippling injury. Anyway, off to find that gym membership…