Friday, 11 June 2010

Welsh 14/3ks: Part 2 Equipment & Preparation

My attempt on the Welsh 14/3ks will take place on the weekend of 12th June (tomorrow). I am intending on trying to pull together quite a detailed write-up of it next week - which you may find of interest, particularly if you 'barefoot' (or rather 'V-Foot') or are considering fasting and its implications.

Training History
One thing that has worried me is that if I did get in to an 'emergency situation' on the Welsh 14/3ks and Snowdon Mountain Rescue have to pull me off the mountain, I KNOW there will be a roll of eyes from both MR and the media; they'd assume that anyone tackling such an event without food and without 'proper' footwear (Vibram Five Fingers) MUST be both stupid and asking for trouble.

However, I HAVE prepared. With several weekly 10 mile fasted hikes under my belt since the start of he year, one or two longer fasted hikes, over three years of twice-weekly 24hr fasting (including bouts of intense exercise in this fasted state), and a lot of mileage over technical ground in my VFFs, I have put a lot of thought and preparation in to this challenge.
The weekly training walks have been undertaken whilst carrying the kind of loads I will take on the day, and in the clothing and footwear I will wear on the day. The 14/3ks route is known to me and the more technical stages (Crib Goch), have been recce'd in the VFFs and is a ridge I have walked many times before. I have performed night walks and walks over rocky and muddy terrain. I have walked in hot sunshine and heavy rain. Unprepared I am not.

I am not taking it lightly and would urge a degree of caution should you try something similar, especially if it is an 'outlier' event; something out of the norm; a 'Black Swan' challenge. At the very least have a plan B (always a good idea no matter what you are doing in the hills). I have a high level of confidence that the walk will be successful, but you can never rule out a further Black Swan!
Kit List
Minimalist. I am going to wear shorts, VFFs and a T-Shirt. My main pack and bum-bag will hold:
  1. Cam-Corder (MiseryCam)
  2. First Aid Kit
  3. Emergency Rations (Fish)
  4. Head Torch
  5. Leggings and long sleeved fleece
  6. Windproof top
  7. Gloves, Hat and Neck-Warmer
  8. Walkie Talkies (to chat with support driver)
  9. Walking Pole (in case of a repeat of the knackered knee that hampered me last time)
  10. GPS, Map and Compass
  11. Bladder (3 litres)
  12. Phone
I also have the option of picking up a waterproof layer for the final section at a rendezvous with a support driver at Ogwen - the weather report is currently for dry conditions with cloud above 900m on the Snowdon range . I have also packed some boots in the support vehicle - just in case the VFFs prove too hardcore.

Why the Challenge?
Whenever the notion of exercise (particularly endurance exercise), crops up, we are told to carb-up. For some intense activity, particularly that which is performed against the clock, then arguably you want fully topped up glycogen stores. And it seems that you may well need to top up these stores if you wish to sustain performance levels. Marathon runners are basically speeding eating - linking feeding stations in as short a period as possible. But if you go slower and for much longer - well the question becomes one of how far can you go and at what intensity.

In contrast is the idea that animals perform their most intense and demanding activity to either get something to eat, or to avoid being eaten.

Plants, unable to physically avoid predation, have gone on to develop physical defences such as shells for their seeds or thorns, and chemical weaponry. Sure now, fatally/injuriously poisoning a would-be predator is fine, but the smarter plants (grains), have gone for a superb form of chemical warfare - perhaps THE most successful, based upon addiction.
What makes this addiction so successful is based upon their customer profile. Having gotten the smartest animals on the planet hooked on their drug, grains have taken control of the planet's economic and military superpowers, dominating politics, research, education, media, business, agriculture, economics, ecology and latterly their health (which means grains now control whole swathes of medicine).

We have arrived at a point where we need to eat regularly by both necessity (anyone I know who eats a lot of refined carbohydrates cannot go for long without some form of snacking), which is further driven by recommendation of governments and NGO's who seek to guide us through the minefield of diet and exercise.

To undertake something like the Welsh 3000s advice is typically along these lines:
  • Food and drink
    This is largely a matter of preference, but try to eat and drink regularly.

    You are likely to become dehydrated during this walk. I would recommend that in addition to water, you take some form of isotonic drink eg. normal Lucozade Sport (not Lucozade Energy, Hydro Active or the Lucozade Sport with caffeine boost) or Isostar. Fluid from an isotonic drink is much more readily taken up by the body.

    Salty food, eg. ready salted crisps, can also help rehydration if accompanied by a drink.
Hmmm - you see those pesky grains even manifest their control to hiking and leisure! Obviously I will ignore this advice, other than drinking only water. For me, having adopted a primal/paleo/EF/LC diet, fasting has become second nature; desirable even.
Fasted Training
I started kickboxing fasted, and felt sharper. The sessions could be brutal - but I was fine in terms of energy. The fasts became critical to the quality of my fighting. Two or three fasts a week seemed instinctive. I could fill my day with activity - in the gym or playing in the park with the kids - fasted and all 'un-hungry'. All with no visible downside.

If this felt right, how could it be wrong? How far could it be taken? I started walking significant distances with nothing more than a litre or two of water. Everything OK, I pushed the distance. Everything still OK.
And so now I am here on the eve of a major adventure. Demanding in every sense. A real test of my mental and physical strength. A test of fortitude and determination.

Sure I have food - I am carrying it internally. No Lucozade or Isostar. No Kendal Mint Cake or Malt Loaf. No sandwiches or chocolate. Heck, no eggs or liver, nor cheese or lamb. No butter or fish.

Do I need it? I guess we are going to find the answer out very soon!

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5


Lightning said...

Have fun. I myself will be in north Wales doing Foel Fras fell race. A mere 12 miles 3100ft.

Asclepius said...

Cheers lightning. Good luck on your race!