My first 10 week block of training is now complete, two more blocks of 10 to go until race day. I feel my running fitness is ahead of schedule, but the weather so far this year has hindered my cycling and I am feeling very underprepared in the saddle.
But that’s ok.
Stressing about not being where I want to be with my cycle fitness isn’t going to help, what is going to help is being productive and planning ahead about what I’m going to do to fix it. Quite simply I will be spending more time on the bike, putting some gruelling hours in and building the power and the endurance. My cycling pace is where I want to be for race day, but struggling to keep this for about 40-50miles. On event day I need to maintain this pace for over 100miles without tiring my legs out and having enough energy left to comfortably take on the final 1500m elevation marathon.
Welcome to the grind.
I have found the best way for me to train for these long endurance events is to complete my long runs how my legs feel comfortable. I don’t get hung up on split times, average power etc when I’m out. I enjoy my session, let my legs do what they want and then analyse is after; this allows me to enjoy the session and doesn’t knock my motivation or fatigue me. You won’t always be able to keep the pace you want, you are going to have days where training doesn’t go to plan, but I find if I push my legs over long distance to try and hit those targets when I’m tired and my legs don’t want to move that fast, I end up wrecking myself and affecting my next session. So take it easy, use your short runs to push your power and speed and enjoy the long ones at a steady pace and don’t burn yourself out. Rest days are also key, I am currently hitting on average 12hours exercise per week, but I will always have a day or two rest for a few reasons:
1) Rest days are growing days, they allow your body to become stronger and recover in order to keep the niggles away as well as mentally and physically rejuvenate.
2) Work constraints mean that we can’t train all day every day like the pros can. I have a level of flexibility working for myself which allows me to create time during the week to get a long session in, but this makes other days extremely busy, so I use these as rest days from training.
3) Social Constraints, especially at the weekend occupy time… and should occupy time! You need to make time for social occasions to chill out and relax and ensure all your spare time doesn’t go into training. I enjoy a tipple or two at the weekend (especially during rugby season) which is perfectly fine as long as I get my training in… even if it is an early ride the next morning!
I took a weekend away this month to see some friends, whilst I was there I thought it would be rude not to see how I fared pushing myself up Wales highest peak. With a weekend of snow coming in, I decided to head up on the Friday and try to beat the bad weather, which was a good decision. I would not have fancied going up on the following day with the bitterly cold snow and wind that was there. I made it up and down in about 3 hours which I was quite happy with, I would say I managed to run about 1/3 of the mountain, mostly the bottom section as the top was so deeply covered in snow. I think my tactics for event day is to hike up Ben Nevis, running up Snowdon was tough, I felt sick most of the time and my focus was pretty hazy with all the blood in my legs and not in my brain. I realised this when several times I thought I could see some people walking, which turned out to be a tree, post or some form of shadow (maybe I just need my eyes tested). Hiking though was definitely more energy efficient and if all goes to plan, I will be way ahead of the cutoffs that finishing with a hike is more than achievable.
I really pushed the whole way up, had a short break half way to grab some food from my bag and sort out a blister developing on my foot. There was a few moments of “what am I doing” “this is a stupid event” but as soon as I reached the summit, It was as if I had simply got the train up, I wasn’t tired, I wasn’t out of breath as the sense of achievement was far greater than the effort. The view was outstanding, sun, rain and a rainbow making up the scene from the top. This was also enhanced by the distinct lack of people, I was the only one at the top… peace… no noise from anyone except the raven that was perched near me. I’m sure there is some deep meaning of the raven’s presence, if you believe in that stuff, but I just felt like I was part of Game of Thrones. But it made me remember how great the feeling of achievement is, getting to the summit, crossing the finish line.
It will all be worth it at the end.
The cold made my phone stop working at the top, my girlfriend was casually walking up at her own pace and I’m sure she would be starting to worry by this point. After 20minutes chilling at the summit, I decided to head down. There was a distinct lack of paths due to the amount of snow covering them, so navigation got a little tricky. After a couple of hundred meters down, I realised I was heading down a different route, sun set was closing in and a very slight worry of being on the mountain at night crossed my mind. The importance of being equipped properly cannot be stressed enough, a compass and map came in very handy at this point, as did the waterproof layers in preperation for the incoming rain. After some brief map reading, I found my way to the Lamberis Path that I took on the way up, found my girlfriend and we had a casual stroll back down before sunset.
My advice to anyone taking on any form of challenge, is to be fully prepared with your equipment. If it is your first 5k run, make sure you have a good pair of running trainers. If you are off adventuring, take more than enough food, water, navigation equipment (a lot of navigation on phones will not work in remote locations, a map and compass can be more reliable).
The weekend was rounded off with lots of good food, booze and a trip to Chester Zoo with my friends. After all, what’s the point in all this training if you can’t enjoy the calories you put in?
It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.
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