Saturday, 31 March 2012

My last high intensity run before the big event

Hello everyone.  Today is once again bright and sunny without a cloud in sight.  Hip hip hooray.  It seemed like a perfect day to do my last high intensity workout before the MDS, with basically one week left to go before it kicks off.

I decided to stick to the hemada (stony ground) and the hard packed dirt next to the road that leads into Merzouga.  It gave me a chance to run faster than I would have on the sand, and to try running fast in the heat.  I know that most advice says you should try not to schedule your intense workouts during the hottest part of the day, but I have been here for some time now and should be more or less acclimatised.

I ran from the hotel across the hemada until I reached the main road that leads into Merzouga centre.  I then followed the verge, which is hard packed dirt through the centre to the edge of the dunes and back.  I set off from the beginning at a good pace and I was studying my heart rate every few seconds or so.  It soon hit 150 and I realised I was running much faster than I could hope to sustain during a full MDS stage.  Nevertheless I decided to push on and to do an intense session.  The whole way my heart rate was above 140, and most of the time it was closer to or over 150.  That for me is around my lactate threshold.

There were lots of people in town and especially children.  It seemed to be a school break or the end of school.  The kids (and a couple of adults) were cheering me on as I passed by and that gave me quite a buzz.  Most of them seemed to realise I was training for the MDS and were shouting things that contained the word "marathon".  The rest just probably thought I was another crazy foreigner passing through town.

I had no idea how far I had covered or how fast I had been running, because I was solely focussed on monitoring my heart rate.  It was only when I got back here that I realised how well I had done.  It seems I covered 9.73km (6.08 miles) in 48 minutes and 50 seconds.  Now I may not break any records with that, but considering I ran in the hottest part of the day with a rucksack weighing over 8kg and with 2 bottles of water weighing 1.5kg and on slightly uneven terrain, it is pretty good going.

I think for the MDS I should try and keep my heart rate below 140 on the long stages.  I should only let it go over that on the short days like the first one and the last one.  That way I don't risk blowing up halfway through a stage.  I will only be monitoring my heart rate periodically throughout each stage though, as I don't want to miss the whole experience by being overly concerned with statistics.  The rest I will do by feel, which till now has never let me down badly.

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