Blister prevention

Anti inflammatory tablets – a caution by Dr David Walker

A number of walkers in previous years have taken over the counter or prescribed anti inflammatory tablets before, during or after the Parish Walk in order to try and reduce muscle pain during the event and also aid recovery after the walk.

Anti inflammatory tablets come in a number of types the more common ones include Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Aspirin and Diclofenac (Voltarol).

Anti inflammatory tablets work by preventing the production of prostaglandins which act as messengers in inflammation. However, prostaglandins also have a protective effect on the stomach lining and kidneys and anti inflammatory medications reduce this protective effect and may cause side effect which can include gastrointestinal bleeding and acute kidney damage.

These side effects are particularly important when combined with dehydration which is a common problem during endurance events and there have been incidents in the past of kidney failure requiring hospital admission after the Parish Walk.

In addition, studies have found little actual performance benefit of taking ibuprofen and warn that it may mask pain, which can lead to increased risk of injury. Further studies have cautioned that anti inflammatory drugs used during ultra distance exercise are associated with an increased risk of altered kidney function which is exacerbated by dehydration.

Dr David Walker


Need help or advice to prepare for the 2016 Manx Telecom Parish Walk?

Here are some ideas (although it based upon 2015 – coaches – please update [email protected] as necessary)

Manx Harriers have race walking training twice a week with qualified coaches at the National Sports Centre - Full details on Manx Harriers website here

Six times Commonwealth Games walker Steve Partington welcomes you on:

Mondays - 6pm - 7pm on Ramsey prom. Started as a walks only group three years ago. Now incorporates a beginners running/jogging group that has been set up in tandem with Nikki Boyde. More than 30 people attend each week.

Thursdays - 5pm NSC - He can be found helping with the Junior Walking session that Liz Corran runs.

Saturday - 4.15pm - Dhoon Cafe Car Park - Walk/run hill session. Mainly beginners (90% ladies!) - Steve says he finds it really rewarding to see the effort and improvement.

Graham Young is the youngest ever competitor, former record holder, won the event twice (21 years apart) and is a three times Commonwealth Games walker (finishing 4th in 1974). The former national 100km champion coaches a number of Parish walkers with his son Martin, a former Great Britain international. Contact Graham on 07624 494195 to take advantage of his experience.

Chris Cale, a twelve time finisher in the Manx Telecom Parish Walk is on hand to offer advice in the Up & Running shop on Bucks Road

Three times finisher Mark Hempsall is now a police officer but he has retained a small personal training business on a part time basis. He offers help with training schedules, strength/conditioning, nutrition and can assist with blister/ foot management including strapping and prevention. Contact Mark, who can also provide sports massages, on 07624 470114.

Although a running website, runiom is designed for beginners and you may find it helpful. Website here

Strictly Parish (previously Walk Talk)

23 February 2016 at 17:30 (18:00 start)
Strictly Parish seminar at Keyll Darree Education and Training Centre near to Noble’s Hospital

Expert advice on how to prepare for this year’s Manx Telecom Parish Walk is on offer at a special Strictly Parish evening on Tuesday February 23. At this time of year many walkers are starting to train in earnest for the big day on June 18, and this event allows anyone to get tips from a panel of coaches, physios and experienced walkers who answer questions from the audience. It’s being held at Keyll Darree Education and Training Centre near to Noble’s Hospital. Doors open at 5.30pm for a 6pm start. Entry is free, and tea, coffee and biscuits will be served. The event will last around an hour and a half, and everyone who attends will have their names entered into a free prize draw to win a Polar A300 Activity Trainer generously donated by Intersport Isle of Man.

On the expert panel will be international race walking judge Steve Taylor; physiotherapist Ben Scott; Dr Matthew Biggart; coach Graham Young; Karen Lawrie who has finished the full 85 mile distance; and Andrew Titley, a multiple Manx Telecom Parish Walk finisher who has also completed the Big Walk in South Africa. Ray Cox, Manx Telecom Parish Walk Race Director will also be at the Strictly Parish evening, and commented, said: “Strictly Parish is an excellent opportunity to find out about training, nutrition, footwear, and to get tips from the experts on tackling the biggest walking challenge on the Island. The evening is aimed at all abilities, from novices getting ready to take part for the first time, to more experienced walkers who have set themselves new targets to achieve this year.”



2012 (part 1)

2012 (part 2)

2011 with Roger Black

2010 with Roger Black part 1

2010 with Roger Black part 2


Expert training tips for the Manx Telecom Parish Walk

In a previous year, top race walking coach Allan Callow wrote some expert tips from aimed at helping novices and beginners achieve their goals in the Manx Telecom Parish Walk on 20 June 2015. Allan has coached many of the Isle of Man’s international race walkers and represented the Isle of Man in three Commonwealth Games.

Article 1

Let’s start with the shoes you will use for the Manx Telecom Parish Walk - you need to think about them right now. If you already have a pair which are comfortable and will last you until the walk - don’t change them. For those walkers who need to find a new pair it’s important to get them as soon as possible as all new shoes take time to ‘break-in’. If you leave it too late and end up on the start line wearing shoes which are only a few weeks old it could lead to problems on the big day. It is advisable to have a worn in spare pair also.

Many participants in the Manx Telecom Parish Walk wear running shoes - but these are not the ideal choice. Running shoes designed for training tend to have stiff soles with thick cushioning to absorb the heavy impact of running/jogging. Walking is a low impact activity, so less cushioning is required - and when walking the foot will flex more than when running so the shoe needs to allow for this. Look for running shoes which are light and flexible. Racing flats - lightweight and flexible running shoes designed purely for racing - are ideal for race walking. But remember that they should be used for training as well as on the big day.

Finding time to train enough is difficult for all Manx Telecom Parish Walk entrants. Whenever possible, try to fit in three regular sessions per week with at least one rest day between each session. As with all endurance events, consistency is the key. It’s what you do over the three months prior to the Parish that matters most - not the training you cram in to the final three weeks. Try to do your longest walk on a weekend building up from around 40 minutes up to two hours and at an easy pace.

The second session should be slightly faster than your longest walk. Build up from 40 minutes up to an hour. Session three should be a faster walk building up from 30 minutes up to around 45 minutes. These shorter, faster, walks will help you to become more efficient at walking long-distances.

Article 2

The Manx Telecom Parish Walk may be weeks away but now is the ideal time for walkers of all levels to start preparing for race day. Choice of shoes, clothing, food and drink should be tried and tested when you set off from the start line. As discussed in last month’s article you should, ideally, already be wearing the shoes you will use in the actual Parish Walk. If you’re having problems with blisters in training. it’s a good idea to experiment with different socks to find which suit you best. Choose running socks with a seamless toe to prevent rubbing, ideally made of a ‘wicking’ material which doesn’t retain moisture.

With the weather now varying from cool and wet to warm and dry it’s a good idea to try out in training the clothes you will wear on race day. It’s better to wear two or three light layers than one thick layer as this will give you more options to adapt to changing weather conditions. It’s also important to wear sun block - even though the Isle of Man may not be as sunny as St Tropez it’s still easy to get sun burn if you’re out walking for many hours.

After the shoes you wear and the training that you do, the most important choices which will affect your performance on the big day are the food and drink you consume. Walking for several hours burns up a significant amount of calories and, even on relatively mild days, can also cause dehydration if you don’t drink enough. It’s important to replace not just the water lost in sweat but also the salts and minerals that are lost too. There are many brands of sports drinks on the market (you can make your own by watering down orange juice and adding a pinch of salt) but whatever you choose to drink should have been tried out in training first to make sure they are palatable and that they agree with your digestive system.

You will find water stations on the Manx Telecom Parish Walk route, but you may wish to take along isotonic or energy powders to add to the water provided. In training, you should also try eating easily digestible, carbohydrate rich foods which will give you the energy to keep going. Don’t leave it until the big day to try energy gels or energy bars which you may not find palatable. Next month, in the last of our Manx Telecom Parish Walk articles, we will look at what you can do on race day to ensure you have the best possible chance of achieving your goals.

Article 3

“Divide it into thirds. Walk the first part with your head, the second with your character, and the last part with your heart.” This is adapted from a quote about marathon running, but it applies equally to all endurance events including the Manx Telecom Parish Walk.

As with any endurance challenge, using your head by planning for the big day is all important. There’s nothing worse than rushing around just before the start when you realise you have forgotten something you need. It’s a good idea to make checklist now and then again at least a week before the Manx Telecom Parish Walk detailing what you need on the actual day. This should cover clothing, race numbers and transponders, transport arrangements and whether or not you will need a support crew to meet you to give you wet weather clothing if it rains, or to give you extra food and drinks in addition to refreshments provided at feed stations. Of course, all walkers continuing beyond Ballaugh MUST have an attendant following them by car – get this arranged now – to be sure it’s in place.

Pacing is all important in achieving your goals - there’s an old adage in endurance events which says that it’s not the distance to your goal that will defeat you, but the speed at which you try to get there. Aiming for an even pace is best. Look at your pace in training ideally over the longest distances you have done and on a section of the course make a realistic assessment of how fast you can expect to walk the distance you are aiming for. Be conservative about the pace you can sustain for your target distance, especially if the distance you are aiming to complete is further than walks you have done in training. It’s better to start slower and pick up the pace in the second half of your walk than start off too fast and pay the price when fatigue sets in with miles to go to the finish.

It’s also advisable to make a schedule of how long you expect it to take you to reach each checkpoint and to carry this information with you to monitor your pace. Using GPS watches or smartphone GPS applications such as Endomondo Sports Tracker are also useful ways to accurately measure your walking speed. Some smartphones - such as the Sony Xperia Active - are specifically designed for health and fitness enthusiasts and are perfect for measuring and recording your pace on the big day. It’s important to listen to your body and the conditions on the day and adjust your pace accordingly if you are feeling fatigued and have many miles to go.

The Manx Telecom Parish Walk is as much a test of mental strength and determination as it is a measure of physical fitness and endurance. Knowing that you can reach your goal is half the battle and finding ways to deal with any doubts you have in your mind are important to consider. The total distance you are aiming to walk may seem daunting, so try focusing just on the distance between each checkpoint - distances which you have no doubt covered many times before - and on maintaining your target pace between each one.

Ultimately, endurance walking is a challenge and may involve a few aches and pains along the way. Character and heart will push you through the final miles to your target distance, and you should always remind yourself that the camaraderie and support of those walking with you, and those watching from the roadside, will spur you on too. The sense of achievement you will feel at the end is worth all of the effort – ask any finisher. Just being part of the tremendous atmosphere which the Manx Telecom Parish Walk creates is a fantastic experience - especially if this is your first time taking part. Any fatigue you experience will be temporary, but your memories of that atmosphere will last forever. Something worth remembering if the going gets tough.