Friday, 6 January 2012

Pumping iron like Rocky Balboa

The 10km tempo run was not all that I did today.  After a rest and some food I headed down to Holmes Place in the centre of Zurich and did an hour and a bit of weight training.  I was obviously not as strong as I once used to be when I regularly went to the gym, but I was happy that I could do 3 sets of 20 squats with 50kg without any problem and could happily bench press 40kg many times in a row.

Apart from the squats I tried to focus on upper body exercises, as this is the part that running does not really work out.  I did a variety of exercises including curls and raises from behind my back to above my head with the triceps bar, bicep curls, back extensions on a slanted bench, shoulder press, lat bar, seated row, cable pulls, sit ups, bench press, stability work on the air cushion and last but not least skipping.

I assume that tomorrow there will be some soreness, but since it will be in upper body more than anything else, it should not limit my ability to go running if I chose to do so.  I need to remember to do plenty of stretching though, and so I think I will start going to yoga again very soon.  At Holmes Place they have yoga classes several times a day, so I should easily be able to find some that fit in with my schedule.

When I was getting changed after my workout, I decided to step on the scales, and it seems I am still losing weight at the moment.  I currently weigh in at 72.8kg and am eating plenty so nothing to be worried about on that front.  As long as I don't lose any strength then I am happy for the weight to drop off naturally.

On my way out of the gym I took an all in one power shake from the juice bar to give those tired muscles the protein they need.  In addition to proteins the shake also contained creatine which I am already familiar with, and which really helps in the gym.  The only reason I am not really taking it on a regular basis at the moment is because it is more helpful for anaerobic sport than aerobic sport.  But for work in the gym it is perfect and allows you to train harder and longer.  If you don't believe me try it for yourself.

10km tempo run

I wanted to inject a bit more speed into my running, as my longer runs are usually a plod.  So today I did a 10km tempo run, trying to keep my heart rate above 147bpm for between 30 and 45 minutes.  The final result was 45 minutes and 58 seconds.  I made it to 5km in under 22 and a half minutes so I was hoping that I would make it the full 10km in under 45 minutes, but I was slowing a little in the second half and didn't want to kill myself just for the sake of a minute or so.

My average heart rate was 154bpm and my maximum heart rate was 169bpm.  When I look back in my Garmin Connect results chart, I did better today than the last time I did a 10km in March, shortly before the Zurich marathon.  That time I did the 10km in 46 minutes and 48 seconds and my average heart rate was 155bpm.  That makes me feel pretty good, as I was in good shape back then and did the marathon a few weeks later in under 3 and a half hours.

If I try to do a 10km tempo run once a week then I will have a good way to see if I am improving as time goes on.  I would hope that nearer to the MDS my 10km time would be under 40 minutes.

On a completely separate note I have ordered some new running shoes - the PT03 from uk gear.  They were designed in conjunction with the British Army and have been recommended as a good running shoe for the MDS on some websites I was reading.  I have ordered their waterproof winter version, but if I get on well with those I will consider getting the PT03 desert shoes and using those for the MDS itself. The next thing I need to start looking at is dehydrated food.  If I can get away with it I will try to buy dehydrated food that can be made into a meal without the use of hot water.  This would mean I could do away with the need of carrying a stove and fuel, and save some weight in my pack.  The lighter I can make my pack the better.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

1.5km swim

True to my word I hit the pool today.  In Oerlikon there is a 50m pool, which is great as you don't have to keep turning constantly.  I used to be a good swimmer when I was at school, but I haven't done any serious swimming for years now, other than the odd dip in the sea or splash around in the pool.  The aim of today was not to splash around in the pool though.  I wanted to do some serious training.

I had no idea what I was capable of.  In my mind I thought that if I could do 1km I would be quite happy, but when I got in the pool and started swimming I realised that 1km would not really be a challenge at all.  In a 50m pool it is only 20 lengths.  Not wanting to overdo it, I decided to do 1.5km today, and then next time I go to try swimming a bit further.

The pool was pretty busy considering it was early afternoon and most people are at work.  I expect that a lot of people go to that one because of the fact it is 50m long, and also the 50m pool in Sihlstrasse is closed at the moment for renovation.  Nevertheless I was able to find a space where I could swim up and down without too many interruptions.  There was also lane swimming available, but considering my lack of swimming practise I didn't want to hold up the faster swimmers.  For the first kilometre I alternated between front crawl and breaststroke in order to work as many different muscles as possible.  Whilst front crawl is much faster I find breaststroke a lot more relaxing, and for the final half a kilometre I switched to breast stroke.  Every second length I also tried to do a proper turn where you do a forward somersault and kick off the wall.  It will take me a little while to get used to doing the proper turns again, as several times the water went up my nose when I was doing them.  But considering I haven't been to the pool in ages, I was very happy with my progress.

The only drawback of the day was that my goggles were too tight and now I have stupid red lines around my eyes.  To be honest I was surprised they still work and that the seal hasn't perished, as I bought them over 10 years ago.  I guess they must have been good ones when I bought them.  Anyway, considering the crap weather and the fact I have already had a really good cardio workout today, I will save going to the gym till tomorrow and just do as many pressups as I can now instead.  Take care everyone and I will check in again soon.

Back to back half marathons

Howdy folks.  I am now back into my proper running schedule, and have just completed two back to back half marathons in the last two days.  The essence of any ultramarathon training plan seems to be the back to back or sandwich run, getting the body used to running longer distances on consecutive days.  This differs from the typical marathon training plans, which usually only include one long run per week.

I wasn't sure how far to go on my back to back runs, and was considering to maybe even try a marathon.  The problem is that I don't have time to get injured and be able to successfully complete my training program, so I decided that just going out and running a marathon two days in a row after only getting my body used to running again the last few weeks could be a big mistake.  Based on this, I decided to run a half marathon two days in a row instead and see how that went, and then build up from there as necessary.

It has gone surprisingly well, and I only have mild aches now.  Today will be a cross training day and I will focus on upper body strength and swimming, so that my legs can have a rest from the impact of running.  I also did part of my sandwich run off road so that firstly the impact on my joints would be reduced, and secondly I would start strengthening my ankles on a terrain more similar to the MDS type terrain than asphalt.

On the Tuesday run I went up the Uetliberg.  There are plenty of nice trails in the woods and you could run all day there if you wanted.  The climb to the top also adds a bit of extra challenge to the run.  The thing I noticed when running uphill was a slight ache in my lower back, so I will have to try and do some back strengthening exercises for that.

View of the Uetliberg from my balcony taken a few days later

On Wednesday I took Negrita with me for the first part, and we headed to Oerlikon and back.  Then I dropped Negrita off at the apartment and headed out again, in the direction of the Zurichberg.  I found a nice forest trail on the way to Witikon, where the trail follows the course of a little stream.  As with the previous day there were some small climbs on the way, so it is a little bit more of a challenge than running on the flat.

The pace on both days was quite slow, but that doesn't concern me too much, as I could run much faster if I wanted.  First I just want to get used to the distances and then I will add some speed.  Avoiding injury is the key.