Week 2: ​Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones diary – James' training

Using the Garmin Fenix 3 for am ambitious race strategy
Week 2: Race to the Stones diary

There are 14 weeks to go and this challenge still doesn't seem real. Come July, I'll be running, walking or crawling 100km in the Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones, along with the rest of the Wareable team.

You can learn more about the challenge and the team from our first diary post, but this second instalment is all about my own training.

As we previously mentioned, we're partnering with Currys PC World to put the latest tech through its paces and I'm set to train with the Garmin Fenix 3, which is one of the best outdoors watches I've ever tested. I recently tested the Garmin Fenix 5, but am opting for its cheaper and more accessible predecessor for this challenge.

But before we get into the devices, let's talk tactics. As I feel that by hook or by crook I could walk this 100km if all else fails, my target is to walk/run the course in one chunk, for a good finishing time of 16-20 hours. That seems a target that's tough but achievable.

Building my plan

Week 2: Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones diary – James' training

To do that I'm going to need variety in my training. Having walked long distances before (though nothing like 100km in one sitting), I know that it's the time on your feet that kills you. When your feet, knees, glutes and back start to hurt, when the tiredness kicks in. But from also running long distances, I know I'm going to need a lot better cardio fitness than I have now. To train for both isn't going to be easy, and just running isn't going to cut it.

I'm going for a self-designed training plan built from three sources: the official Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones training plans, the heart rate training diary I wrote last year, which got me from a 2:00 half marathon PB to a 1:45, and just the experience of knowing my body. Often, I've found that I struggle to cope with the volume of running in marathon training plans – in terms of my own schedule and the demands on my body. So I've made up my own.

First I need to put miles in my legs, so from this week I'm going to start with a 12 mile weekly run, that I will work up to 20 miles by July. I'm going to complement that with a weekly interval session, preferably on track, of around 20 x 1:30 minute 400m intervals. This was hugely effective in my half marathon training. The idea here is to move my baseline cardio fitness level, which some might argue isn't actually conducive to the end goal, but in my experience, has made the biggest contribution to my goals.

To make sure I'm less likely to succumb to injury, I'm also going to tackle a weekly cycling session (a mix of indoor and outdoor) to work different muscle groups at a lower impact. Then, to cap it all off, a gym session using resistance machines to improve core and muscle strength.

That accounts for four of the five working days of the week, which leaves the weekend. That's where I'm going to get out on hikes starting at 10 miles and getting up to over 30 miles by June. I also plan to keep up my golf, which is a good 10km walk with a heavy bag. Hey, it all counts!

Training with the Garmin Fenix 3

Week 2: Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones diary – James' training

The variety in the training is why I chose the Garmin Fenix 3 in the first place.

With advanced run stats and hiking (with 40 hours of battery life), as well as an indoor cycling mode, the Fenix covers all bases. What's more, it does it in pretty spectacular style. Incorporating heart rate tracking is essential for the way I train, and means that I can take advantage of stress scores and recovery, which is going to be essential when the long distances in training start to take hold. That's something to return to in a few weeks. When I trained for the Royal Parks Half Marathon, higher bpm than normal runs alerted me to over-training, and helped me to avoid injury. That's going to be essential here.

I've already spent the last few weeks upping my training, and ensuring that I'm meeting the correct intensity. I've run three 10km runs in the past two weeks with no bother at all, and have started to implement hill training into that, too. My last 10km run featured 400ft of incline, using a hill I regularly train on which has its own NSFW Strava Segment. As the Fenix 3 spits out data to Strava, I was delighted to see that I posted my third best time for the hill, and finished strong at the end of the run. Not bad, given that at the beginning of the session, the Fenix 3 gave me 0 for performance condition, which prompted me to take the rest of the weekend off.

And on my first training hike, the Fenix 3 came into its own again. I was able to ensure I kept up the intensity by keeping my speed over 3mph, which is a baseline figure I want to work to. While it's a decidedly average walking pace for pottering around town, it's not easy to maintain over 20 hours.

So while the event doesn't seem real, my training is going the right way. Check back in with me in a couple of weeks to see if I'm still alive.

If we have inspired you to get fit for summer, Currys PC World have some great smart tech which will give you a boost just in time for the warmer weather. Here's how to choose the right fitness tech for you.


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