Monday 29 November 2021

Hard work at David Fairlamb Fitness (again)

Tonight’s double session "under the lights" at David Fairlamb Fitness was extremely tough and enjoyable in equal measure. That's nothing new these days but it's at level I haven't seen at for a very long time. 

My own motivation to work hard, underpinned by Dave driving the session along at pace, makes for a superb platform. I've said many a time that you just don't know what you're going to get in each session. While the underlying principles are generally the same, the structure and content of these HIIT sessions are never the same.

I do a double session on a Monday and Thursday. This can work one of two ways. The first session can give you confidence that you'll be able to produce some quality and "survive" the second session. The feeling last night, however, was one of nervousness at the end of the first session. I knew that I'd worked hard and it was going to be difficult to dig deep and match the effort during the final session.

Last night saw a mixture of "change of pace" cardio then it was into a tough little dumbell routine. Multiply that by 8 and you have the session. There was very little rest in there and finding any active recovery was difficult. 

There were some big watts generated during the explosive cardio parts of the session. 900+ on the Wattbike (surely 1000 isn’t too far away), 600+ on the rower and the ski erg. 

Maintaining good form while recovering from the cardio sections was a huge challenge. I think I just about nailed it. The motivation and words of wisdom from Dave during the 2 hours helped to keep focus. 

As I drifted into the red zone during the second session it was a case of taking my mind to “that dark place” once again. Various images filled my thoughts and all I could really see in the real world was the number of watts being generated on the various machines.

Convincing my mind that I can get find another level and get through a session with as much effort as I can possibly give, has always been one of my strengths. Sessions like tonight, particularly in the latter stages, take me back to the run across the USA. I remember the days in the mid west in particular, battling temperatures in the 40s while having to run 35-45 miles some days. You battle, you survive, you battle again, you survive again. Then, when the time is right, when the sun hovers just above the horizon you drop the hammer and attack. You finish with as much quality as possible. You empty the tanks. Those flat out finishes on Route 66 don’t feel that different to a session like tonight’s. 

Of course, these sessions have improved my fitness beyond expectations this year. It’s the mental health benefit too that can’t be underestimated. I’ve said many times when leaving Dave’s gym that "I feel I could take on the world" or that "I feel like a million dollars". Tonight was no exception. 

I haven't had a new pair of shoes for the gym in 6 years. My custom made Nike Metcons played a huge part tonight. This is the first time I’ve worn them and they were so comfortable. The most noticeable benefit was the support they gave my toes. 

There are a few basic exercises which I find painful. This is thanks to the run across Australia. You can see the terrain from this day in 2013 pictured below. I was just over 1500 miles in to the run and nearing Port Augusta. 1000 of those miles had been spent on the Eyre Highway. It still ranks as one of the most challenging sections of any of the run around the world so far. Anyway, I digress! 

Tonight, was the first time I’ve managed a simple lunge pain free for example. It's one of the most straightforward things to do and requires no equipment. For the last 8 years I've felt every stone I ran on in Australia in my toes. But tonight, these shoes enabled me to focus on my form instead of battling the pain.  

Thanks to Dave yet again for another top session. The 0715 Versaclass this morning wasn’t too shabby either. It’s yet another great start to the fitness week.

As ever, I'll close by saying that there is still a very long way to go on this journey. The foundation that has been built this year is truly beyond my own expectations. I've just got to keep this consistency and effort going. That's as challenging as the sessions themselves. 

Wednesday 10 November 2021

A very successful summer

All of the hard work put in at David Fairlamb Fitness in the first part of 2021 was taken into a tough four week "training camp" in La Gomera. Having rediscovered my love for exercise in 2020/21, the primary objective on this small island in the Canaries was to bring running back into that fold.

My primary location was the town of San Sebastian which is only an hour's ferry ride away from Tenerife to the east. There were plenty of options to run here with some tasty climbs in all directions. There was also a flatter section on the prom which is where I usually ended up after running into the mountains.

The hardest run that I managed was a half marathon from Hermigua back to San Sebastian. Just to keep things interesting, I ran that distance on a scorching hot day. There were no options for water on the route so I carried 2 litres of water on my back.

The first 6 miles were all uphill on a road that was full of twists and turns. It was like being back on the Stelvio Pass again. Just like that famous Italian pass, the scenery was absolutely stunning.

The first major obstacle to overcome was a tunnel at the summit of the run. It was 1/3 mile in length, very dark and had no hard shoulder. I had just got into the tunnel when a lorry entered on the other side. I switched to the opposite side of the road with my torch on and then back again when it and the four cars behind it passed safely by.

The next 6 miles were all downhill. Thankfully, the other 4 tunnels that I passed through had a small elevated hard shoulder which made things a lot safer. 

Unfortunately, I ran out of water with 2.5 miles to go. My thirst became immense during that last stretch and I was glad to complete the distance near a Spar where I guzzled a large bottle of water in no time at all.

Without doubt, what I called "the inaugural La Gomera Half Marathon" is the hardest run I’ve ever done at this distance. The searing heat, tunnels, and huge climbs made for a tremendous challenge. 

Away from running, Donna decided it would be a good idea to climb up an almost sheer cliff face for a mile to the spectacular Mirador de Abrante overlooking Agulo and beyond! Thankfully, the views were worth it.

I was very pleased with the amount of work I managed to get through in La Gomera. There were no easy choices in terms of route difficulty and the consistent mid to high 20 Celsius made every run an even greater challenge. 

Of course it wasn't all work and no play. Thanks to Geordie exile, Michael and his wife Yuliana for some great company as well as little Daniel (known as El Rubio to the locals). Donna and I have had a great time. 

I got a nice surprise when I returned home. I stood on the scales and they read 16 stone 11 pounds. While that's still a high number, it's a far cry from 17 stone 10 pounds back in August. It's even further from the 18 stone 2 pounds at the start of the year. Just like my progress in the gym, everything is heading in the right direction. I remain aware that there is still a very long way to go and I will be working even harder than before to continue my improvement. For now, though, it's time to get stuck into a challenging autumn/winter schedule. Will I see 15 stone on the scales before the end of the year?