Friday, 24 February 2012

A 10km run with a 6.6kg backpack

This will only be a short one folks as I have to get ready to go out soon.  I am still aching a lot today, but I couldn't afford to skip running again, so I just went for a 10km run up to Witikon and back.  The elevation gain was 142m and it took me 57 minutes and 44 seconds at a fairly comfortable but brisk pace.  My average heart rate was 131bpm and my maximum heart rate was 152bpm.

There were quite a lot of people on the streets down by Stadelhofen and I bumped into a few of them with my pack as they were blocking the whole path and I couldn't really get round them.  I hate it when people walk side by side blocking the whole path and expecting that everyone else will just get out of their way or stop and wait for them to pass.  If they think I am going to stop and wait when I am in the middle of my run then they can think again.  Either that or they are just blind to their surroundings - nothing that a quick shove with a pack wont fix.

I took Negrita with me and she was very happy trotting along beside me.  I am sure she will be happy now to rest for a few hours at home whilst I go out.  So I wish you a good day folks and I will check in again soon.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Well I have my answer regarding the run today - my body says ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Since writing the last post I got something to eat and tried to take it easy a bit.  That ended up in me falling asleep and not waking up till now.  Since waking up I still feel exhausted.  I think that is my body telling me that enough is enough for today and to leave the run till tomorrow.

So the run will take place tomorrow, as will hot yoga once again.  The rest of today's plan is to just take it easy.  At least I know I will sleep well tonight.


Today - Pilates and hot yoga done, just the running to go

I woke up this morning aching a lot.  Touching my toes was no longer a trivial task.  As I lumbered into the Pilates studio my teacher knew I was stiff without having to ask.  We started with some gentle stretching exercises for the legs.  After that I already started to feel a bit more flexible.  We did all the usual exercises and then at the end I got to hang upside down with my feet held in straps for a few minutes to really release my back and leg muscles.  I walked out of the session feeling like a new man.

Next it was off to the hot yoga studio.  I finished the Pilates at 11.10am and the yoga class started at 12 noon, so I had plenty of time to lie down and relax in the 40 degree heat before the class started.  The teacher was a guy for a change.  The good thing about having a guy as a teacher is seeing that the moves are also possible for a guy just like they are for a girl.  Some moves the guys really seem to struggle with, and although it is harder for them to get the flexibility they need for certain moves, a guy teacher is proof that it can be done when he demonstrates them.

The class was pretty full and was most of the people were girls.  There were around 15 to 20  girls and 3 or so other guys.  Yesterday the yoga didn't feel that tough in the heat, but today I was sweating literally buckets and the heat seemed rather suppressive.  I felt dizzy on quite a few occasions and had to just take a moment to regain my composure.  I stuck with it though and completed all the postures to the best of my ability.

I am now back at home and I am going to eat and drink something and then relax for a few hours.  If I feel okay later in the afternoon or early evening I will go out running again.  I think after a bit of rest I will be just fine.  I haven't decided on the distance yet but it won't be as long as yesterday.  A half marathon would be a good distance.  Then tomorrow I will do hot yoga again, but I need to take a day of rest from the running to let my body recover.  Ciao for now folks.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Part 2 of today's plan complete - a 42km run with a 7.5kg backpack

Hi folks.  I just got back from a 42km run that took me up to Witikon then down to the Greifensee.  Once at the Greifensee I did one complete lap of the lake and then I made my way back to Zurich along the same route.  I ran the whole way basically, but stopped every 10km for a snack and a drink.  10km is the distance between the checkpoints in the MDS, so it is good for me to get used to stopping every 10km and then having to get back in to the rhythm again.

A frozen Greifensee - the white bits are not waves but ice

It was my first time running with such a heavy pack.  I had weighed the pack in at 7.5kg but probably it was over 8kg by the time I put in the drinks and snacks that I bought in Zurich HB.  It felt pretty comfortable running with the pack and there was very little bouncing.  The only minor point was something at the bottom of the pack seemed to be digging in my back and I had to adjust the position from time to time.  The actual pack I will be using in the MDS has not yet arrived, and the one I am currently using is more for mountaineering than for running.

Despite the pack being comfortable to run with, my quads were getting a lot more tired than they usually do.  This was probably due to the extra weight bearing down on them (although the weight of me plus the pack now is the same weight I used to weigh all by myself when I first started running again just over 1 year ago).  I was fine plodding along the flat or going uphill, but as soon as I got to the downhill part from Witikon towards Zurich they were really sore.  I was trying to run down the hill as gingerly as possible.  I had been considering to run 80km today, but I changed my mind as I was starting to get a little bit cold towards the end and if I ran much further I probably wouldn't have been able to run tomorrow.  Earlier in the day the temperature was perfect though.

The Greifensee seemed to be completely frozen but I don't think the ice is that stable and it will probably melt very soon.  The temperature has really risen over the last couple of days.  Only last week I was running over a frozen Katzensee - the first time I can say that I have run on a frozen lake.  I was a little bit nervous doing it, but there were plenty of people iceskating on it so I assumed they knew what they were doing and had been told by the authorities it was safe.  There was no way I was running on the Greifensee today though, and there were police cordons all around the edge, which were probably to warn people that it was not safe.

Tomorrow I have Pilates in the morning and then I want to go to hot yoga.  I purchased a 1 month abo so I want to make use of it.  After that I would like to go for another run.  If I am still feeling fresh it will be a run with the same pack I used today (just under 8kg) and if I am feeling tired and aching a bit I will go without a pack.  Remember that my biggest danger now is not a lack of training but getting an injury from doing too much.

Hot yoga done and now ready to hit the road with my pack

Hello everyone.  I am sticking with my plan today, other than the fact that I decided it was more sensible to go to the 9.30am hot yoga class instead of the 6.30am one.  I have plenty of hours left to run.  I don't have to be back at any particular time this evening, as Anny will be out too.  If need be I can run in the dark and I will take my head torch with me just in case.

I have prepared my rucksack for the run, and it weighs 7.5kg.  I stuffed it with some useful items such as a head torch, a couple of bottles of water and my ski jacket, and then a few less useful items just for some extra weight, such as a pair of boots.  It will be the heaviest I have trained with so far, but it doesn't feel that heavy so lets see.  I always have the option of drinking all the water, which will lower the pack weight by a few kilos, although if I can I will try to drink the water from the water fountains and keep the pack at this weight as much as possible.

I will stop off at Zurich HB beforehand to get some power bars and energy drinks that I can eat and drink during the run.  I think after that my plan will be to run up to the zoo and then into the forest and along the ridge.  I don't have to follow any set route though, so I can see where the wind takes me after that.

During the hot yoga I was wearing my heart rate monitor and chest strap.  I want to see what adaptations take place as I do more and more sessions in terms of my heart rate.  It should start to drop as I get used to training in the heat.  In case you are interested here is the link to the activity on my Garmin Connect site  My average heart rate was 99bpm and my maximum heart rate was 136bpm.  It did feel a little easier to handle the heat today compared to the first time, although that may be just my imagination, as my body probably hasn't adapted that quickly.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Feet preparation

The other day we received an email update from the organisers of the MDS talking about feet preparation.  It seems that a lot of people try to toughen their feet up in the weeks before the race, to try and reduce the number of blisters that they are likely to suffer.

It mentioned various substances that can be used, but the one that I already happen to have here at home is surgical spirit.  Each evening now I will soak my feet for a few minutes in a bowl with a little bit of surgical spirit in the bottom.  I will report back how it works and if I notice any changes.

Tomorrow should be another hardcore day

Howdy folks

I am a little disappointed with my training the last couple of days.  That is why tomorrow I want to make up for it with a seriously hardcore training day.  Last Saturday I rested and on Sunday was just the snowshoe hike.  On Monday all I did was Pilates and today I have been running, but only for 11.15km.  The reason I didn't do as much as normal is because I have been a little under the weather.  I had a sore throat and was a bit bunged up.  That in turn affected my sleep and so I didn't have as much energy as normal.  I seem to be over it now though so I want to get stuck right in.

Now no promises here, but my ideal would be to go to the 6.30am hot yoga class tomorrow, then I would get back with plenty of time to go for a really long run.  It will take me a lot of motivation to get up that early though.  Usually I find when I state my plan publicly it is much easier to do, as I feel some kind of obligation to follow through with it.  That is also one reason for writing this post.  If I don't manage to make the 6.30am class I can still get up fairly early and go for a long run anyway.

As I haven't done that much running with a rucksack, I will make sure I run with one tomorrow.  I think the ideal weight to try out would be 7.5kg so I can see how it feels to run with that.  I don't intend for my pack to be heavier than that at the start of the Marathon des Sables, and as the race goes on my pack will become lighter and lighter.  I should also try and stick to off road to mimic the terrain I will be racing on.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Sunday's snowshoeing

On Sunday we tried snowshoeing for the 3rd time.  The meeting point was St Antönien and the guide was Otto as per the previous times.  In St Antönien it was snowing a fair bit, but other than the reduced visibility it was not too much of a problem.  The temperatures were much higher than last weekend when we did it, and that made it feel more pleasant.

In total there were 9 of us in the group, plus Otto and his girlfriend.  Daniel had posted the hike on and a lot of people had signed up this way.  More people could have come except for the fact that there were only 2 cars available, so 10 was the maximum we could handle.  There was meant to be another Russian girl coming, but she overslept it seems.  The following nationalities were represented by the group: British, Peruvian-Spanish, German, Finnish, Chinese, French and Indian.  So it was a very nice mix.

After warming up with coffees and delicious, freshly baked apple cake we set off.  We were driven by a minibus to the start point in two groups, and once there we put on our equipment and got ready to set off.  Whilst I was putting on my shoes one of the straps broke.  I wasn't sure if I had pulled it too hard or if it was just old, but Otto said he had had the shoes for 5 years already and that it was kind of to be expected.  The snow was pretty deep but there were some ski tracks that we were able to follow.  At some points when I felt like a bit of extra training I would leave the tracks and walk through the powder.  That came well over my knee and was hard going.

The group taking the easy route whilst I slog it through the powder

The first part of the walk was in the forest and for most of us it was our favourite part.  After leaving the forest we headed uphill towards a mountain called the Kreuz.  I felt like extra training so I ran uphill for a bit then turned round and ran downhill till I was some way past the group, and then I turned round again and tried to catch them up.  It was a really good workout and I was sweating like a beast.  The turnaround point for the day was just under 1,900 metres above sea level.  If we had continued to the top of the Kreuz it would have taken somewhat longer.

At turnaround point 1,882 metres above sea level

We stopped for lunch at a summer hut near the turnaround point, and after eating some snacks Otto asked Daniel and I if we wanted to dig some trenches so that he could demonstrate how avalanches happen.  Two of the trenches were in parallel and then there was a trench across the bottom of the snow pile.  Then he got several people to stand on top of the pile of snow and jump up and down.  After jumping a few times the snow gave way in one big block.  He explained that if that happened on a bigger scale you are talking about thousands of tons of snow, and that is pretty serious.

Once we got back past the forested section we stopped for some mulled wine.  Then we made our way slowly back to the hotel where our cars were parked.  Some parts were pretty steep and the majority of the group fell on their bottoms.  No-one was hurt though.

Arriving back in St Antönien

After getting back to the hotel it was time to finish the day off with some drinks and a cheese fondue.  The group were fairly quiet, but a nice bunch.  We arrived back in Zurich sometime around 9.30pm, and after Negrita had been out for a walk it was time for bed.  I quite enjoy snowshoeing although I think the ideal would be to carry my snowboard on my back and then I could board downhill in the powder.