Wednesday 10 August 2011

'What's next?'

After a number of years of running infrequently, my passion was reignited four years ago by the notion of Empty Miling. Central to this concept is the intrinsic enjoyment of each and every run. Whilst not guaranteed to produce a dramatic improvement in running performance, it certainly is conducive to uncovering the unbridled joy involved in the simplest pleasure - moving from one place to another on foot.

Whilst adhering to Empty Miling, the deliberate irony in the phrase became immediately apparent. Empty miles were not junk miles, worthless miles - they were the most fulfilling running miles imaginable. Gradually, by embracing Empty Miling, the bedrocks of my running preconceptions have altered dramatically. Whereby I have always 'trained' for one future singular event or challenge, I now feel I have reached a stage where that idea is increasingly irrelevant. And, in turn, this new way of thinking has shaped 'What's next?'

For several months now, I've pondered an idea for next year which embraces this new way of thinking. 'Training' is a phrase that doesn't exist in pure Empty Miling since 'training' assumes the 'target race' is the most important run whilst 'training runs' are necessary to achieve this. 'Training runs' embody a negativity - no pain, no gain. 'Training' might be a slog, often unenjoyable, but necessary if the future goal is to be achieved. Empty Miling, however, assumes that every run is as important as the next, and intrinsic enjoyment of each run is the important goal. So, 'What's next?' doesn't involve a singular goal. Instead, what I have in mind is a year-long project - a year where the journey IS the destination.

So, what is it?

My project will start on the 1st January 2012 and will end on the 31st December 2012. It will involve a huge commitment in terms of time and support from my family. It will take me to paths less travelled and places never visited. It will test my endurance in ways I've never experienced, It will be the hardest thing I've ever done. Success is far from guaranteed. In fact, I think the odds are stacked against me. However, the project excites me more than anything else I've achieved in my running, and the challenge is mouth-watering.

My project involves the exploration of my home county, Lincolnshire, on foot. Over the year, I will attempt to complete all the Long Distance Paths that start, finish or pass through Lincolnshire. Using the LDWA database as my guide, I have compiled a list of paths that fit this criteria and have grouped them into short, medium and long categories. With the exception of the Hobbers Way, all of these paths will each be completed in one continuous run.


Torpel Way - 11 miles
Bourne Blunder - 20 miles
Tennyson Twenty - 20 miles
Vermuyden Way - 20 miles
Wanderlust Way - 20 miles
Jubilee Way - 21 miles
Dave Milne Way - 22 miles
Belvoir Witches Challenge - 25 miles
Caistor Challenge - 25 miles
Gingerbread Way - 25 miles
Silver Lincs Way - 25 miles
Spires and Steeples - 25 miles
Caistor Challenge Alternative - 26 miles
Kesteven 25 - 26 miles
Linconshire Wolds Black Death Challenge Walk - 26 miles


Belmont 30 - 30 miles
Grantham Canal - 33 miles
Water Rail Way - 33 miles
Humber Bridge Link Walk - 34 miles
Plogsland Round - 47 miles
Peatlands Way - 50 miles


Nev Cole Way - 58 miles
Danelaw Way - 60 miles
Jurassic Way - 88 miles
Lindsey Loop - 95 miles
Towers Way - 95 miles
Hereward Way - 110 miles
Nene Way - 110 miles
South Kesteven Round - 130 miles
Viking Way - 147 miles
Hobbers Way - 193 miles

The majority of these runs will be done solo.

The Viking Way may be covered by competing in the first Viking Way Ultra race, scheduled for Easter Saturday 2012. I'll give this option a little more thought however, as I'm not sure that racing a route fits easily with what I'm trying to achieve over the year.

The Hobbers Way, at 193 miles, is too long for me to attempt as a single, continuous run. Therefore, I plan to split this journey into a 4-day run, starting at the mouth of the Severn and finishing at The Wash, hopefully in the company of a few friends. This journey, an alternative Coast-to-Coast, I see as a fitting finale to my year of travel.

Whilst the short and medium paths will fit easily into the calendar, the long paths are what the success of this project hinges upon. Do-able? Time will tell.

Planning is in the early stages. The calendar wall-chart is ready to be tinkered with. The next few months are likely to be busy.

It's an idea I've thrown around for a while, and now, I guess, it looks like there's no going back.

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