Monday, 6 July 2015

Biggest training challenge yet for 2016

With only 300 days left until the start of the run across Europe I decided to step things up last week with an increase in mileage and difficulty. The week got off to an unusual start with what you might call a bit of "high temperature training". Donna and I reprised our roles as Dorothy and "Courage" the Lion at The Children's Foundation Family Fun Day at Kirkley Hall. 

We've ran the Great North Run twice in the costumes over recent years. The Fun Day was almost as difficult with lots of hi-fives, fist pumps and pictures taken on a sweltering hot day. We were originally asked to don the costumes and a collection bucket for 30 minutes "here and there" giving a bit of recovery time from the very warm costume. However, the generous attendees kept putting lots of change in our collection bucket and apart from a 10 minute breather we stood for four hours having a lot of fun with children and grown ups alike. 

With thousands in attendance, the Family Fun Day was a huge success for The Children's Foundation in terms of awareness and fundraising and I believe another event is already in the planning stages for next year. Sadly I'll be running across Europe at the time but look out for a special Run Geordie Run stall.

The weeks running got off to a solid start with standard lunchtime runs including a pleasant 8 mile run around Havannah Nature Reserve on a very warm day and a random 10 mile route including Newcastle on what was the warmest July day on record. Both runs were very comfortable and saw me try a product from CherryActive called BeetActive for the first time. This is a drink which, taken an hour or so before exercise, helps to delay the onset of fatigue. It's hard to measure how successful it was as I'm getting fitter every week but I was surprised just how comfortable and consistent both runs were during the week.

Saturday's plan was to run from Bamburgh to Seahouses and back as many times as I could in an 8 hour period. I left my car at Bamburgh and ran self supported for the entire day. I set off along the beach at 10:30 in horrible wet and windy conditions. There weren't very many people out at all thanks to the weather.

To my surprise, I found running past the caravan site where I spent every Summer from the age of 3 to 18 a very emotional experience. I have many happy memories and it just served to spur me on for the rest of the day.

Soaked from head to toe, I made it to the "Lookout" at Seahouses golf course in just under an hour via the beach and the harbour pier. Suddenly, my aim for the remainder of the day and to keep things as interesting as possible had become to reach each point in Bamburgh and Seahouses in under an hour.

I ran back to the car in Bamburgh along the road in 47 minutes with some decent pace. I bought myself some time to take on some energy food and set off with time to spare from the point of view of getting to each point in under an hour.

The 2nd journey back to Seahouses was quicker than the first and took 54 minutes. The journey back to Bamburgh started off quite slowly but miles 15, 16 and 17 got progressively quicker with mile 18 at sub 9 minute mile pace. It's a shame I got back to the car as, despite the now boiling hot sun beating down, I had found a really good rhythm and had plenty of energy.

Given that I was only half way though the day having ran for 03:54:00 I decided to have a quick sit down in the car and something to eat. This was a fatal move as I had a tactical snooze for just over an hour. I certainly needed it and many late nights working on the logistics of the run across Europe and early starts in the gym started to tell!

After my sleep I ran back to Seahouses in an hour and took the same time to get back to Bamburgh. I decided to call it a day at that point after running 27.5 miles in 07:16:56 (including tactical snooze time!). I hard burned 4200 calories in that time which meant only one thing. Fish and Chips in Seahouses! They were delicious and well earned I thought as this was the longest that I'd ran since day 81 in Australia.

Sunday saw very little evidence of the previous day's running in my legs. This was thanks to CherryActive of course. The plan was to attempt to run from the bottom of the bank near the Priory in Tynemouth, up the steps in King Edwards bay, up 4 ramps in Longsands and 2 ramps in Cullercoats bay. I then did the whole thing in reverse back to the bottom of the bank near the Priory while adding in some active recovery along the pier. That 1st "lap" was 6.5 and took just over an hour. The unfortunate thing was that I wasn't just jogging up each ramp, I was sprinting up them. I found it impossible to ignore the challenge of powering up each climb. This wasn't turning into the workout that I'd hoped for and I wasn't keeping anything in reserve at all. I've got to admit that I throughly enjoyed getting onto my forefoot and really letting my arms help to get to the top of each climb.    

I decided to do each climb twice during the 2nd lap. This was absolutely exhausting and I made good use of the active recovery time between each sprint. I reached the finish line after 12 miles. You can see from the graph above just how many climbs there were.

The session was a lot shorter than I'd planned to do but I was very pleased with the effort tweeting:

"Stopping after this lap. I've sprinted up every climb so far. Very pleased. This is not an 8 hour or even 3 hour workout just yet."

"Brilliant response though after yesterday's very tough session. This has been a real confidence booster for sure."

"I'll have a repeat of this weekend in August and try and learn and improve. @cherryactive played a huge part today. No aches from yesterday."

"The enthusiasm to run that was missing in the build up to Australia is well and truly back and has been growing well since February."

"1300 ft of climbing today over 12 miles. Think all of these stats mean that I've qualified for a Sunday dinner!!"

So without doubt this had been the best week of training so far in the build up to the run across Europe. 3 gym sessions and 58 miles of running was very pleasing. This week sees a much lighter schedule with only 30 miles to run and 3 gym sessions.

There is a real momentum gathering for the run across Europe. Not just in training but also with the planning side of things. I'll talk more about that later this week.

One thing is for sure, all of the planning and prep done over the next 300 days is crucial to the success of the next big run.