Sadventure Completed #42: couch to 50k to couch...

Updated: Feb 7, 2020

"Why don't you train for an ultra-marathon?" she said.

"Because I value life. Besides, I've walked just over 30kms twice recently in one go and it took me days to recover."

"You'll need a good pair of shoes," she said.

"And a hip replacement."I said.

"You don't have to run it. Just walk it in 12 hours."

"Still will hurt."

"You'll have to train. And you'll have to use a proper distance training app. No more of your ludicrous make it up as you go along stuff."

"Winter's coming."

"Wear gloves."

I hate losing arguments. I'm to walk 50 kms in less than 12 hours by February using an app to train with.


Right! I have done some proper research on Google and everything. It turns out there's no "0 - 50k app" that I can find and a lot of the walking/running apps only have free trials. This seems like a good enough reason to try one new app a week, and have a (good grief!) planned training plan on paper.


Week 1

App: MapMyWalk

Tells me to connect my Smart Shoes. I don't own any smart shoes. Allows me to skip the 14 day free trial and go straight to the counting page.

Training Plan

4 x 10kms walk this week.


10k walk 1

Turns out I have a maths problem rather than a fitness one. I figured out what I thought was a 5k distance, only to discover it was a little over 7k, and still had to walk back.


Time taken: 2h, 59mins,

Distance: 14.48kms,

Calories: 882

Steps: 21181

Ave. pace: 12:26km/hr

Fastest km: 10:42

Slowest km: 14:59

The App: Great for stats! Much better than Strava which isn't as in-depth when you're using it for free, but after all, it's free. This one will have to be bought at some point.

Each hour it interrupts your listening (currently Brené Brown's Braving the Wilderness) to tell you the distance covered, the time taken and your average speed which is sort of good and sort of not good. I think I'm in the rather not know camp.

It also has suggested walks although nothing in my area.

Walk 2

Time taken: 1h, 55mins,

Distance: 9.8kms,

Calories: 609

Steps: 13245

Ave. pace: 11.46km/hr

Fastest km: 10:18

Slowest km: 13:49

I know my slowest time split will improve once I stop foraging blackberries on the way around. Realised that once I've done a third walk, I will have 'earned' an extra day of daily recommended calorie intake . Not that I'm on a diet, but any justification for pudding goes.

Walk 3

Time taken: 1h, 50mins, (faster)

Distance: 9.8kms,

Calories: 609

Steps: 13171

Ave. pace: 11.25km/hr

Fastest km: 10:21 (slower)

Slowest km: 13:16 (faster but only because I foraged fewer blackberries)

Starting to appreciate the booming voice from MapMyWalk which updates my stats periodically. Does work to help push on rather than dawdle which is what I'm apt to do.

Walk 4

Have a cold brewing so very glad I still managed to get out although I didn't push myself.

Time taken: 1h, 52mins, (slower)

Distance: 9.8kms,

Calories: 610

Steps: 13279

Ave. pace: 11:30km/hr

Fastest km: 10:32

Slowest km: 13:42

Week 2

Okay, so this one doesn't have a day of rest between walks, and worse, my cold is now officially 'heavy', any worse and I'd call it a frozen. In fact, I was so ill I couldn't muster downloading another app, so I stuck with MapMyWalk.

My proper walking boots have arrived so I've been wearing them in. Hopefully the blisters will have hardened by the next time I put them on.

Training Plan

3 x 10kms walk this week.

1 x 15kms


Walk 1

Time taken: 1h, 56mins,

Distance: 9.8kms,

Calories: 596

Steps: 13547

Ave. pace: 12.01km/hr

Fastest km: 10:57

Slowest km: 14:14

Really under the weather. The walking does clear the sinuses somewhat but ruins the evening because one is so knackered. Worse, I overfilled the bath with hot water, which had long since run cold. A luke-warm bath is just pants.

Walk 2

App: Kamoot

This looks sleek, and it's free although more enhanced paid-for services exist, e.g. planned routes and voice inputs. You can also follow other people's adventures. But the free bit is simple: select the activity: hiking, running, cycling, mountaineering, alpine biking, road cycling and other acts of self-harm. Then select your level of fitness - I chose couch potato, and then your current location.

It was most useful when I was lost in a field and I could see where to go as it actually has footpaths indicated. Take that, Strava!

Time: 2h, 59

Distance: 9.55m

Pace: 3.2mph

Ascent: 225ft

Descent: 250ft

So the info about the activity is limited. And I can't see how to change it to kilometres but Strava, which I'm also running by way of comparison, says:

Distance: 15.55km

Elevation gain: 196m.

Average Pace: 11:38km

Fastest Split: 10:42km

I did miss the booming voice of MapMyWalks.

Walk 3

Another 10km walk on my usual blackberry route, with a improving cold. Someone offered me a lift, very kind of them, but I thought that might be cheating. Walked in my shiny new walking boots without too much trouble, except for a stone in my shoe. That made me hobble a bit. Think I should be able to do all walks going forward in them now.

Someone rang and we chatted on the phone for much of the walk. Suddenly realised how weird I must look seemingly yelling to myself over the windy bustle. Was glad when I found myself in a mobile blackspot. If you see a waddling, sweary, middle-aged, unfit woman scoffing black berries whilst raging down the road in new hiking boots - that's probably me. And I'm on the phone!


Time: 1h, 52

Distance: 5.99m

Pace: 3.2mph

Ascent: 100ft

Descent: 150ft


Distance: 9.87km

Elevation gain: 113m.

Average Pace: 11:23km

Fastest Split: 10:00km

Walk 4

Was trying to summon up the energy for a 10k walk when the phone rang and I was invited over for afternoon tea. Not one to pass up an opportunity, I figured if I walked there, I could get a lift home and then eat as much as I liked!

This is where Kamoot came into its own: I keyed in my destination and it came up with a route that was all bridleways and rural footpaths. Five hours, and 18 minutes was the suggested time. Then as I hacked along, it boomed in instructions for when to turn - making it so much easier to navigate my way. I only got lost once, and even then I was guided back into good walking order. Although when I saw this amazing fella on the way, I thought I'd diverted to America. As it was, it was a gorgeous Harris Hawk being exercised.


Time: 3h, 21

Distance: 9.15m

Pace: 2.7mph

Ascent: 450ft

Descent: 225ft


Distance: 15.47km

Elevation gain: 234m.

Average Pace: 13.30km

Fastest Split: 9.35km

Week 3

Training plan

2 x 10km walks

1 x 8km walk in less than 1h, 30

1 x 15km walk


Walk 1 (Kamoot)

Squeezing training in first thing this morning, then to bath, then to pop out for lunch means I didn't have time to download a new app. Still, this did not hamper me posting my slowest ever 10km walk yet. I really thought I was doing a brisk pace as well.


Time: 1h, 58

Distance: 6m

Pace: 3.1mph

Ascent: 75ft

Descent: 150ft


Distance: 9.87km

Elevation gain: 113m.

Average Pace: 12.12km

Fastest Split: 10:47km

Walk 2

Motivated by reading various books on the PCT, after getting gripped by Cheryl Strayed's Wild, I looked forward to doing the 15km hike today. Compared to the thru-hikers 50km plus days (once they get trail fit), I figured a nifty 15km is a cinch. It's not for me. My feet ache like I'm walking on marbles in the last 5km. Still, I found a really cool hiking spot through woodland and open fields which was lovely.

It was also my first run out with AllTrails my latest app for the week. It's also very handily shows all the bridleways and footpaths local to me. Easy to use. Easy to set up. And full with final data at the end - split times for each km, elevation gain per km and calories. So...

Time taken: 3h, 09mins,

Distance: 14.6kms,

Calories: 1,641

Ave. pace: 12.58km/hr

Fastest km: 10:46

Slowest km: 15:42

Elevation: 365m

Walk 3

Time taken: 2h, 04mins,

Distance: 10.6kms,

Calories: 1,084

Ave. pace: 11.46km/hr

Fastest km: 10:45

Slowest km: 13:19

Elevation: 380m

Thanks to AllTrails showing me lots of little walks nearby, I found a lovely new route for my 10km practice runs - a combination of tarmac, gravel, fields and woodland. I even get to bound across a wheat field - I may be of political calibre yet. What's particularly good about this app is that it's spot on to where I'm walking, which makes it easy to find the footpath signposts which are often covered in vegetation.

What's also really good about this app is that it shows you the split times for each kilometre - great for someone who is training: like me.

Day 4

The one I've been putting off til last - 8km in 1h, 30 or less. Tried yesterday, but was out by a good two minutes.

Anyway, if you're following Person Irresponsible on Strava, you'll see I did a measly 6.34km, in 1h, 13m. Absolutely this calls for a myriad of excuses....

- I forgot to eat breakfast first

- I miscalculated my route

- my legs still ache from yesterday

- I can't walk past my house and keep going when there's coffee just feet away

- I got lost and had to keep stopping to find my way

- I need to conserve energy to tidy my getting very neglected garden

- I have a big walk planned for Wednesday

- there were too many stiles and other speed-impeding impediments...

In reality, I knew I was going to overshoot my time by quite some way, at least I needed another twenty minutes or so to complete the last 1.67km, assuming I'd be able to manage a pace of 11.5km/hour. So I quit.

I have no regrets...

Time taken: 1h, 13mins,

Distance: 6.2kms (note the variation from Strava!)

Calories: 637

Ave. pace: 11.45km/hr

Fastest km: ?

Slowest km: ?

Elevation: 78m

For some reason, AllTrails isn't showing splits for this session.

Week 4

Training plan

2 x 10km walks

1 x 8km walk in less than 1h, 30

1 x 30km walk


Walk 1

My last trek out with AllTrails - which I have found useful. Legs very stiff this morning from gardening yesterday, I guess. I elected to do the wheat walk route again, and again committed to getting 8kms done in one and a half hours. Alas, I missed out by 200m.

It is also the last sunny day for aaaaages. <sob>

Time taken: 2h, 06mins,

Distance: 10.5kms

Calories: 1,098

Ave. pace: 12.06km/hr

Fastest km: ?

Slowest km: ?

Elevation: 94m

Walk 2

Following two rest days, one deliberate and one because, quite frankly, there were three rugby world cup games, a formula one race and a friend to see meant Sunday, the usual start of my week, was

cat's contribution> ?@@@@@@@@@@@@@@"£

a write off.

With Monday otherwise occupied, Tuesday was my Walk 2 day. I downloaded Walkmeter. Can't say I was wowed by the graphics, the map was basic and the stats simple. For £10 a year, you can upgrade to more funkiness but I'm not enticed to.

I was relieved to see that it was overcast but not raining, but still it would be a good day to start preparing for winter training issues - How many layers? Do I need a hat? Can I wear glasses or shall I revert to contact lenses? How waterproof are my hiking books?

I selected a thick pair of tracksuit bottoms, ones covered in paint splatter, because they are fluffy on the inside, and a thick long-sleeve top that isn't quite a jumper, or a sweatshirt, but not a t-shirt either. I threw on a bandanna because it was dry, and some thick socks to prevent blisters.

Every skin cell was drenched by the time I had completed 1.5km. My glasses were foggy and my walking boots waterlogged. Still, I am training to be #hardcore I figure. On the plus, I wasn't cold.

The rain hammered it down as I got to the wide open space of the wheat field, but on I ploughed! I waded through ponds, trudged through rivers and straddled quagmires. I was astonished to find that finally, I had completed my first 8km in 1h, 24m. On the one hand, it makes sense: when training for 0to5k I found that after I'd strung together a number of rest days after I'd suddenly pop in a faster time. On the other hand, all the dilly-dallying around giant puddles and slip-sliding through trails meant I had no intention of doing the first 8km in less than 1h 30m.


Time taken: 2h, 03mins,

Distance: 6.61 miles

Calories: 506

Ave. pace: 22.45 mins/mile

Fastest km: ?

Slowest km: ?


Distance: 11.45km - total fabrication it's my new regular route.

Elevation: 121m

Ave pace: 10.42km/hr, again rubbish me thinks

Fastest km: 9.25km/hr. Nope. Just No.

And thus, I must concede that I probably did not do 8km in one and a half hours. In the battle of the walking apps, Strava has failed me.

Walk 3

The thirty! Oddly I was looking forward to this. Well I was until the alarm went off at 6:00 and I had to get out of bed. It was reasonably dry but still I knew to take an umbrella. I forced my feet into my still wet trainers, selected a woolly top and some light tracksuit pants.

I planned to stop every hour on the hour for a drink and a stretch. I knew when each hour was coming to its close because it would start raining leaving me the choice of sitting on the edge of an umbrella, or using it to cover my head.

I made pretty good time, despite my legs being a bit achy to begin with from yesterday's walk. They say that things start hurting at the three-hour mark, but I didn't start to feel the burn until the four hour mark when I stopped for lunch. After that I began to feel each lump and bump, or the shattering tarmac underfoot when I had to venture onto hard roads. The last two hours were extremely painful as I slowed to less than 2mph. I arrived at my destination, made two giant cups of coffee and fell into my friend's very hot bath! Lush. I want to point out, re-reading this, that my friend was not in the hot bath at the time, nor indeed had she run it for herself.

I used Komoot to keep me on the straight and narrow...

Time taken: 7h, 20mins,

Distance: 18.7 miles

Calories: ?

Ave. pace: 2.6mph

And Strava:

Time taken: 7h, 35 mins (!)

Distance: 31.21km

Elevation: 281m

Ave. pace: 14.36

Fastest split: 11.12