Saturday, 31 December 2011

Shock to the body - from South American summer to European winter

Hi folks.  I am now back in Europe and checking in from Madrid, where I will be spending New Years Eve before heading back to Zurich.  We arrived on the 28th and Anny's sister and dad were at the airport to greet us, along with my little dog Negrita and her mum Punkita.  Negrita hasn't seen me for 4 months and at first she was barking at me like she does when strangers approach her.  I have to admit I was a little upset that my dog didn't recognise me immediately, but after a minute or two she knew exactly who I was and started licking me frantically on my hands and arms.  What a relief that was.

The first thing I noticed on leaving the warmth of the airport was the low temperature outside.  I have been used to temperatures in the mid 20s and it was a shock to suddenly experience temperatures close to 10 degrees.  In Switzerland it will be even colder so at least I get a chance to acclimatise a little here first.   Rather foolishly I haven't got any warm running clothes with me, so in the last few days I have been running in my cycling clothes.  I didn't think about these few days I would be spending here on my return, and only had shorts and Tshirt for running in.

I did a quick weigh in the other day as I was interested to see if I had lost any weight since leaving to South America.  Obviously I lost some weight during the bike tour itself, but since finishing the Inca trail I haven't done that much exercise and have been enjoying the Peruvian cuisine somewhat, so probably gained a few pounds in those couple of weeks.  It was a pleasant surprise to see that I am still only 73.5kg, so well below my pre tour weight.

The last few days I have been out running every day, and slowly trying to increase the time that I am on my feet.  Today I went out for half an hour with Negrita, dropped her off at the apartment, and then did another faster hour by myself.  Previously I would have taken Negrita with me for the full one and a half hours, but yesterday she had an annual check up and I asked the vet about a tendency she has to hop when she is walking.  The vet says she suspects that she has a small issue with the movement in her knees,and that is is common in small dog breeds.  When I told her that I usually go running with Negrita all the time, she told me that I need to be careful and not to go too far or it could make her knee worse.  Heeding her advice I have decided to limit my runs with her to one hour in duration.  At first she even said I shouldn't run with her at all, but when I told her how happy Negrita is when running and how happy I am to have such a loyal running companion she changed her opinion slightly.  She had initially thought that Negrita was hopping more during and afer running, but I explained to her that isn't the case and that she hops more during walks than runs.  I will have to monitor her and see how it goes, but the thought of not being able to run with her at all makes me very sad, and I hope it never comes to that.

Well folks, with the new year almost being here, it means there are only 3 solid months of training left before the Marathon des Sables.  When you break that down into weeks and realise that it is only 14 weeks or so, that thought scares me somewhat.  I still have a long way to go to be in the required shape for the race.  I am already contacting my Pilates instructor to arrange for the lessons to commence again upon my return to Zurich, and I will be taking full advantage of my free Holmes Place membership from the moment I get back.  I want to do a combination of spinning and weights and yoga and Pilates on top of the running.  My running training will be a combination of speedwork, tempo and hill work, in addition to long steady back to back (or sandwich) runs.  I have plenty of time to train during the day and the only issue will be how much exercise my body can withstand.  That was one of the reasons I wanted to do the South America bike tour, to get my body used to doing very large amounts of exercise without getting injured.  Running is much higher impact than cycling however, so even now I need to be extremely careful as I increase the amount of running I am doing each week.  What I can do though is to use lots and lots of cross training whilst I am building up my running endurance so that I don't get overuse injuries from the high impact of running alone.

On a final note, my fundraising has had another boost, with the sale of the second half of the membership that Holmes Place donated to me.  I cannot thank them enough for giving me the opportunity to train for free at their club and on top of that donating a 1 year gym and spa membership and allowing me to sell it to raise funds for my charity.  Only another 1,000 GBP left to raise now, so if a few more or you donate I will be there in no time at all hint hint.  So now in closing, I would like to wish you all a happy new year and please wherever you are enjoy yourself but stay safe and don't get hit by any fireworks.