There was a winter league 10k race today, but I felt my time this weekend was better spent on endurance and not speed. Therefore I did 25k on Saturday and 16k on Sunday in a solid back to back.
The weather on the 25k was horrific, certainly the worst conditions I have trained in to date. Some of the gusts were 60mph+. There were times when I was stopped in my tracks and struggled to stay on my feet. The rain was horizontal at times and quite painful. Somehow I still managed to get round in under 2 and a half hours.
That took my weekly today to a much better 83kilometres (8h 16minutes). My comfortable cruising speed is around 5:55/km (9:28/mile) now which is where I was before christmas.
So doing these longer walks takes some preparation. There is housework involved before, during and after. Now I am up to 25km and starting to push beyond, nutrition is becoming absolutely key.
When I prepare for a long walk I think about three things. Nutrition during the exercise. Nutrition immediately after the exercise and nutrition shortly after that.
During a long walk we need fuel and we need water. I have found that "just" water is insufficient for me. People talk a lot about "isotonic" drinks. This really means salty. When we sweat we lose salt. It needs to be replaced else our muscles stop functioning properly and seize or cramp. This is a bad thing.
Some people chose a drink which has salts in it. Some people just add a teaspoon of salt per litre of water and hide it with some fruit cordial.
My advice is do NOT wait until you feel thirsty to drink. It is already too late once you feel thirsty. The body has already started going downhill and that is a bad thing.
Fuel is very personal, but on walks under four hours I get by on energy gels. These are easily digested toothpaste tube sized packets of sweet goo. I find one an hour is enough to keep me going. Some types require you to drink water with them, others more runny ones don't need water with them. You can also get them in a chewy pastel Powershot cube variation too. They often contain salts too allowing you to drink pure water.
For all of this you need to carry the stuff. I either carry it around my waist in a pack or sometimes plan a route with big loops and leave a car or "stash" in convenient hedges.
Having only gone over 4 hours once I am not qualified to talk about nutrition beyond that, but I will give my ideas and plans in later entries on my blog.
Immediately after exercise it is essential to eat some carbohydrate and a small amount of protein. This will allow you to replenish your depleted glycogen (fuel) for your next session. The later you leave this, the longer it will take to recover for your next session. This should be in the first 30minutes after stopping.
Shortly after exercising you need a meal. This is to help your body recover. This can replace the immediate snack if you do it straight away else is in addition to it if but does need to be within 2 hours of exercise.
If you do all of these things then you have done your best for your body. Look after it and it will hopefully look after you.