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Walk for Joy Presentation

As part of their initiative to boost health in the workplace, and also build a community in the workforce Diageo have organised an endurance event to motivate and inspire …

It will take place 10/11 May along the beautiful South Downs Way, and the challenge is for their employees to either walk 50, 20 or 10 miles non stop.

My role in this has been to write the training plans for each distance and to provide documents to support and give advice on equipment, training, and mental strength strategies.

I also really enjoyed going down to Head office and giving a presentation on ‘what to expect’.


If I already go to the gym do I need to train? Going to the gym and having a good level of fitness is certainly going to help you complete the challenge. Cross training whether it be cycling, swimming, weights or cardio is recommended. However, even if you are a regular gym goer or consider yourself to be fit, don’t underestimate how challenging walking these distances will be. You still need to train your legs to become conditioned to the rigors of performing one continuous movement repetitively for 4hrs +. Using the training program to guide you, your body will be able to best adapt to what you will be asking of it.

Become familiar: Train on the course wherever possible. The South Downs Way is what I call ‘undulating’. If you can’t get on to the Downs, find trails that mimic its rolling ups and downs. Try to walk on trails where possible. Uneven and muddy ground strengthens ankles and knees.


There are likely to be two occasions when you will need to draw on some mental strength:

No. 1: When you are finding it hard to motivate yourself to get out and train.

No. 2: When you are out walking and you really don’t want to carry on. You’re tired , it’s cold and/or wet and the desire to sit down with a tub of Ben and Jerrys is strong.

3 ways to overcome No. 1:

  • Don’t think about the whole session ahead of you. Break it down. Focus on putting your kit on. Once you have done that, focus on walking out of the front door. In this way, before you know it, you’ll be home again feeling very pleased you achieved your goal.

  • Remember no one gets home from a session and wishes they hadn’t gone. You won’t regret it. The surge of endorphins released from the exercise will stay with you through the day.

  • Forcing yourself to do a session when you don’t want to develops mental strength. Something you may need to draw on during the race.

5 ways to overcome No. 2:

  • Imagine the person in front of you has an elastic bungee attached to you and they are pulling you towards them!

  • Break it down. Don’t think about how far it is to the end, instead, make the next tree your target, then the next mile, then it’s the next check point.

  • Use mantras:

    • I can and I will

    • I’ll just take the next step and the rest will follow

    • I won’t ever regret finishing but I will regret giving up

You chose to be here! Enjoy the experience, you will be back at your desk in no time!

Realise how lucky you are: you have your health, sore feet notwithstanding, and fitness. There are many who give anything to swap places.

Over all  – try to keep it fun.



Be prepared for all eventualities! It may start off cold and windy but warm up towards the middle of the day only to drop again at the end of the day. Have layers you can remove or add easily. Then there is the good old British rain cloud which may come and hover over head.  Having a lightweight jacket on you at all times is a must.

Test everything:

Plan and test what you will eat, wear and even listen to during the event. Do not wear new trainers on the day of the event , if you do, it’s highly likely your shoes will rub after a while as your feet swell.

Travel light:

Don’t pack your rucksack full of eventualities. Be savvy, carry the mandatory equipment but leave the ‘I might needs’ at home.  They only add weight which after a few miles compounds tired legs and shoulders.

Pack wisely:

Whilst training, work out what foods you like to eat and how much you need to keep your energy levels high. Find out what food is available on the event so you don’t carry excess. There is no reward for carrying more than is necessary.


Keep it light, small and comfortable. If it has a waist band so much the better. Pockets that are easily accessible are a must to avoid you having to take your rucksack off when you need something. Keep the things you think you might need like food and music in outer pockets.


Lightweight, breathable, quick drying clothing is key. Bear in mind chaffing: If you are prone to it use garments that cover the vulnerable area.


Choose hiking boots/shoes or trail running shoes. If you have both, try them out in training and see what’s most comfortable over a long period.


Look for socks with arch and ankle elastic to ensure they don’t slip down as well as cushioning underfoot, a flat toe seam, and one which are made of fabrics that keep moisture away from the foot. All good brands of running socks will work.

Thin liner socks under your thicker socks are a good idea to prevent blisters. If you can bring yourself to try them, Injinji (fingered socks) are brilliant.

Head torch:

If you think you will be walking in the hours of darkness use a head torch rather than a hand held torch so that you keep your hands free. Don’t compromise on the power of the light. A wide strong beam is crucial.

Walking poles:

These are a great help. They relieve pressure on the knees and are brilliant at helping you maintain a steady rhythm. If you are going to use poles you must practise with them in training and learn how to hold them correctly!

What to wear:

If it’s hot:

  • Quick drying: shorts, squort, leggings or compression gear and shirt to keep moisture away from your skin.

  • Breathable, padded, moisture wicking socks.

  • Hat or cap

  • Sunglasses

  • Shoes/boots

  • Sun cream

If it’s cold:

  • Quick drying long leggings, and shirt.

  • Compression garments if you prefer

  • Thermal top

  • Light weight wind proof

  • Thin gloves

  • Hat or buff

If it’s wet

  • Water proof rain jacket with sealed seams

  • Water proof trousers

  • Warm hat/buff/peaked cap to keep rain drops off your face

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