Saturday, 9 April 2011

An important aspect of training when entering the unknown - research

Firstly, before I start my rambling, here is the link to my last long, slow run before the Zurich marathon  I followed all the advice on the running sites to the letter and  didn't try and slip in some extra kilometres.  I covered just over 15km and the kept the pace to around 10km/h, which is really comfortable for me.

Now, as the MDS is really a completely unknown and unchartered territory for me, I decided to look for a book on the subject.  There are quite a few books on the subject of endurance running, but in fact very few on the specific topic of the MDS.  The one I bought in the end was "Marathon des Sables - ultra endurance running in the heat of the Sahara".

I have only got 50 pages into the book so far, but it seems a really interesting read.  The best part of all is that I can relate to the author, because this was also his first initiation to the world of endurance running.  I was rather surprised in fact that he had only run his second half marathon of his life with almost one year to go, and didn't really increase his normal training runs above half marathon distance until the event itself.  He did however do a lot of extremely long hikes, a couple of desert excursions from Cairo and so on.

Somehow I can't help to feel that my training will be more advanced than this provided I don't suffer any serious setbacks.  After the Zurich marathon I will be taking a week of recovery and then I will be hopping on my bike to start training for the Marmotte cyclosportive (climbing 5,000 vertical metres in one day) which starts in early July.  I will also try and keep up a certain amount of running, albeit less than now since it will have to be balanced with the cycling.

After the Marmotte and a week or two of recovery I will have to hop on my bike again to make sure I am prepared for the Vuelta Sudamerica 2011, taking place at the end of September.  Although I have decided to cut the tour short to allow me to explore Peru with Anny, I will still be cycling over 5,000km in the course of 2 months, reaching altitudes of up to 4,000m.  I am not sure if it will be possible or not, but the aim would be to fit in some running during the tour.  When the tour finishes I will have one month to explore Peru with Anny, and during this time running will be possible for sure.

When I get back from Peru, it will at the beginning of 2012 and then there will be 3 solid months of training before the MDS.  Jobwise I have already informed my boss I will be away for 4 months at the end of 2011, and I have been given no absolute guarantee of a job upon my return, so it may be that I am a full time athlete depending on if I find a new job or not before the MDS.  Unless I have found a job and they want me to start before mid February, I may well postpone the start date till mid April by which time I will have finished the race.

Apparently a lot of people who finish the MDS become slightly depressed for a few months afterwards, as everyday life seems too easy and no longer challenging.  For this reason maybe I can immerse myself into a new job and start planning for other things such as marriage.  First though I have to get through the MDS.

Just before signing off for tonight, I checked the MDS website and it seems like my friend SJ has successfully completed the 2011 course.  WELL DONE SJ - SUPER EFFORT.  IF YOU WANT TO DO IT NEXT YEAR AGAIN FEEL FREE :))))

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Yoga on Tuesday and lunchtime jog today, so taking it easy compared to before

Howdy folks,

Time for a quick update of the last couple of days.

On Tuesday lunchtime the yoga was quite gentle compared to normal.  The teacher was ill and I guess it would have been hard for her to demonstrate moves that required a lot of strength and energy, as she wouldn't have had much.  It was good for me though as I was still aching from the previous week and needed to go easy.  At the end of the class we practised handstands and I really felt I am starting to get a good foundation, and am able to hold it for up to 15 seconds.

This week my massage was shifted from Tuesday to Thursday so I haven't had that yet.  It is a shame as I could have done with that on Tuesday, but I can still benefit from it tomorrow.  It will be with a different person to normal so I hope that the stand-in isn't one of these sadomasochists who enjoys inflicting pain on poor innocent sports enthusiasts.

Today I did the usual lunchtime jog with colleagues.  I had my Garmin GPS watch with me so it seems our usual loop through the woods is just over 7km and takes us somewhere around 40 minutes.  When I checked my heart rate after getting back to the office it was around 125bpm so I really was taking it easy.  At that pace I can run all day long.

Now I am off to an all you can eat buffet to pack in some carbs.  Obviously I have to be a little careful as I don't want to gain too much weight in this tapering period, but at the same time I do need to get a good dose of carbs in my body.

Hasta luego amigos,

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Camel spiders - what the hell.....

Good evening folks,

One of my friends is currently in the Marathon des Sables and I was following her progress online and doing a bit of googling about the MDS, when I came across references to camel spiders.  My colleague saw the search on my screen and said "Oh yes I know what camel spiders are.  They run after you looking for shade from the desert sun and are absolutely huge."  This got me interested.

Indeed it appears he is right.  They are not actually spiders despite the name, but they do belong to the class of arachnids, having 8 legs.  They can grow up to 8 inches long and indeed it seems they will run after your shadow seeking shade when they can.  They are even capable of running up to 10 miles per hour.

Can you imagine running through the desert with the sun ahead of you and hence your shadow behind you, and then the next second you have this humungous spider running along behind you.  If you didn't know it was seeking shade you might think it was trying to attack you and get completely freaked out.  Or on the positive side you might going from being a back of the pack runner to one of the ones at the front if you kept trying to outrun it at > 10 miles per hour.

If I had known I might bump into one of these things in the desert I might have reconsidered my entry.  But it's too late now, and at least if I do see one I will know it isn't trying to attack me.

Sleep well and don't have nightmares,

Monday, 4 April 2011

Yoga + Pilates one day + 32km run the following day + 4 hours hiking the day after that = aching all over

The last 3 days were pretty tough, but now it's rest, rest, rest with gentler runs and less distance.  I am now in the tapering period.

On Friday I did lunchtime yoga.  It was a good session and not overly tough, but still a good rigorous workout.  Friday evening was Pilates and I could certainly feel the fact that I had done yoga earlier in the day.  When I went to bed I was already starting to ache, but when I woke up on Saturday morning I was pretty much aching all over.

Despite the aches I had my plan to follow so I got up bright and early and set off for my 32km run.  On this occasion I didn't have so much time, as Anny and I wanted to go to Konstanz, so instead of running from Zurich to Rapperswil, I ran 16km towards Rapperswil and then turned round and ran back.  The data from my Garmin watch is here  As you will see if you take a look at the data, it was a pretty decent paced training run.  I covered the 32km in 3 hours 4 minutes and 18 seconds.  This time included a stop at Zurich HB to stock up on sports drinks and gels for the run, plus 2 toilet stops.  The moving time is listed as 2 hours 58 minutes and 51 seconds.  The average heart rate was in the desired training zone at 129bpm, but in the last hour I started to increase the pace and it rose to a maximum of 146bpm.

According to the data, my average moving pace was 5 minutes 35 seconds per kilometre.  If I am to achieve my aim of sub 3 hours 30 then I will need to run about 35 seconds per kilometre faster than this in the race, and for 10km further.  Is this achievable?  Well I think that it is, based on the following:

1) The lactate test predicted even faster than this, and that was a few weeks ago before I put in a lot of tempo and speedwork training.
2) I ran 5:35 pace on Saturday for 32km, but that was after a day of yoga and Pilates, and lots of previous training runs without a significant rest period.
3) Prior to the race itself I will be resting completely for at least 2 full days before, and will not be doing anything strenuous in the week before.
4) I only stopped after 32km on Saturday because I knew I shouldn't run more than 32km in training.
5) On race day I will be going all out in terms of effort compared to an estimated effort score of 7 or 8 out of 10 on Saturday.

On Sunday I was wondering whether I had pushed it too hard during my long run, as it seemed like every muscle and joint in my body was aching.  Anny and I had planned to go hiking, and although I considered calling it off and resting at home, I thought hiking would be a good idea in order to loosen up my muscles.  We hiked for about 4 hours in total with a 30 minute jog in the middle.  By the end my knee was definitely telling me it needed a break.

Today is a new day and the aches are starting to go away.  Tonight is a night of complete rest and tomorrow will be an hour of yoga at lunchtime, but no running.  The next run will most likely be on Wednesday with my colleagues.  I hope that my muscles will now fully recover, strengthen and reap the rewards of the last few weeks of training.  If I look back at my blog it is only one month since I was able to recommence my running after physio for runners knee, and if I do achieve a sub 3 hour 30 marathon with only one solid month of running training I will be very happy indeed.