Thursday, 8 March 2012

Second run of the day - 10km in 53 minutes 20 seconds, with an 8.5kg pack

I just finished my training for today.  The day started off with a 15km run with a pack, continued with an intense one hour of Pilates and concluded several minutes ago with a quick 10km run with a pack.  I would have liked to go further tonight, but we have a guest coming for dinner and I need to help Anny start preparing.

It is a fair bit colder than it was earlier in the day, and there is a bit of a cold wind on top of that.  I went out wearing my shorts anyway though, although on my top half I was wearing two tops.  Despite both runs being fairly short I have still managed to do more than a half marathon today, which is not bad going at all.

I am off to Madrid for the weekend tomorrow.  I wont be taking my pack with me but I will be taking my running kit.  It will give my joints a wee bit of a break and allow me to run further and faster than normal. I will report back on Monday how it went.  Hopefully in Madrid it will be warmer than here, although here is still not that cold.

15km in 1 hour 16 minutes and 19 seconds carrying 9.5kg

Good morning everyone.  I got up early enough this morning to go for a run before my Pilates session at 1pm.  I took a fairly light breakfast so that I wouldn't need to wait long for it to digest before heading out.  I had a fruit shake, coffee, one muffin and a natural flavoured yoghurt with some added blueberries and bee pollen.  Just before heading out of the door I ingested one Gu Roctane gel.  The taste was okay - not that bad and not that great either.  A few gulps of water to wash it down and I was out of the door with Negrita in tow.

I had planned to run a half marathon, but guessing that it would take me 2 hours, which wouldn't give me that much time to rest afterwards before the Pilates lesson, I opted instead for a little shorter but faster run. I headed off down to the lake and decided I would run 7.5kg before turning round and heading back home, making 15km in total.

I felt pretty fast today and decided to push it fairly hard.  I covered around 12km in the first hour and the more I pushed the stronger I felt.  The pack felt very comfortable and was not bouncing much at all.  It will be interesting once the MDS has finished to dump the pack and see how much easier it is to run without one, because the pack doesn't really feel like a hindrance despite the fact that it obviously is one.  By the time I got home I had covered 15km in 1 hour 16 minutes and 19 seconds.  My average heart rate was 146bpm and my maximum heart rate was 173bpm.

A quick weigh in after I got back revealed that my pack now weighs 8.5kg (with both water bottles emptied out).  I am 74.9kg fully clothed (but without shoes) and 83.4kg with my pack and both water bottles emptied.  During the run I was carrying 1kg of water so 9.5kg in total.  Some months ago at Holmes Place I weighed myself in at 73kg unclothed, so either my clothes weigh 1.9kg or the scales I have at home are not that accurate (also possible) or I have put on a tiny bit of weight.  The very latter would not surprise me as I have definitely gained some extra muscle mass in my legs as of late.

Back from my run wearing most of my kit (except shorts and shoes)

Bearing in mind that my pack is only 8.5kg I may well decide to leave in all the existing freeze dried meals plus the Peronin and energy gels, meaning I have around 3,000 calories more than the minimum requirement of 14,000.  Final decisions can be made later on that front though.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Tomorrow's plan - Pilates and split runs

Tomorrow I have a Pilates lesson at 1pm.  This is kind of in the middle of the day, so I have been wondering how to fit in the rest of my training around it.  I have come up with the plan of running a half marathon in the morning with my pack, then going to the Pilates lesson, and then later in the day doing a second run with my pack.  That way I can get in my mileage yet still have enough energy to cope in the Pilates class.

It will be my first chance to try out the energy gels and see if I notice any difference.  A half marathon is not really that long, but for anything over 2 hours an energy gel should be of use.  Since I will be running with a heavy pack, I suspect that the half marathon will take me around 2 hours or so, allowing me to try out one gel towards the end of the run when I am a little tired.  I am not sure how long my second run will be yet and it will depend on how I am feeling, but if I am feeling really energetic I will try to make it longer than a half marathon.  For many of the MDS competitors with hectic work schedules splitting the runs up like this is their only chance to do high mileage during the week.

A session of hot yoga on my active rest day

After 4 days of hard running, it was about time for a rest day today.  I didn't just want to sit and do nothing though, so I thought I would make it an active rest day by doing a 90 minute session of hot yoga. It was my fourth session if my records are correct, and my body is started to get used to it now.  I didn't get any noticeable dizzy spells.

As I was leaving the yoga studio I saw an interesting article on the wall entitled "Bikram yoga may increase erection size".  If you want to see the article yourself you can check here  Yet another reason to take up sport if you ask me.

The energy gels are here...

I just picked up the energy gels and am ready to start trying them out.  Here they are in the photo below.

My assortment of energy gels for the MDS

I ordered 24 Gu Lemon Sublime flavour, 24 Gu Mandarin Orange flavour and 24 Gu Roctane Blueberry and Pomegranate flavour.  The Gu Lemon Sublime flavour is without caffeine but the other two are with caffeine.

I am going to take 24 gels with me, 12 of the Gu Roctane and 12 of the other Gu flavours mixed (provided I like the taste of both in my tests).  It says on the packaging that the packs weigh 32g each, and provide 100 calories.  Since I will be taking 24 of them that will be 2,400 calories and 768g.

Now you may ask how I arrived at the figure of 24.  Well there are 6 racing days in the MDS, and each racing day covers on average just under a marathon.  My plan is to take one Gu Roctane just before starting each stage and then take 3 more gels (2 Gu and 1 Gu Roctane) spread throughout the stage i.e. approximately every 10km.

If my pack feels too heavy with all the gels in it, I may take out one or two of the freeze dried meals.  If on the other hand I think it is okay I will leave everything in as I am sure some extra calories will come in handy.  I have to count up the calories again, but I believe I have somewhere around 18,000 calories in my pack including the gels and Peronin.

I will not be taking any sports drink powders with me, and the gels will take their place.  They contain similar ingredients and it is a lot easier to eat one sachet of energy gel then dispose of it rather than to fiddle around getting out powder, mixing it in the water and then putting it back in my pack etc.  I can keep the gels handily in the waist pocket of my rucksack and avoid needing to delve into my pack at all at the checkpoints.  The strategy of replacing sports drink powder by energy gels is based on a blog I was reading that was written by a previous MDS competitor and an experienced ultra-marathon runner.  If it is good for him then it is good for me.

The only things I can think of that I am missing now are some extra plasters, a lip balm with sun protection and a mini toothbrush and toothpaste.  Almost ready to go folks.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

A half marathon run covering 818 vertical metres and carrying an 8.5kg pack

For most people running once up the Uetliberg would be enough.  It wasn't enough for me today though.  I set out with one aim in mind - to run 2 times up the Uetliberg from the very bottom to the very top.  Now as I mentioned yesterday I have done tons and tons of long steady runs but I want to inject some more speed in my legs now.  So what better way to achieve that than to do tempo runs (like yesterday) and some hardcore hill training (like today).

Running two times up the Uetliberg is fairly hardcore, but running 2 times up the Uetliberg carrying an 8.5kg pack is really hardcore.  I put a couple of extra items in my pack this morning, so it may actually weigh a little over 8.5kg when both water bottles are full.  I have now put in some Leukotape, Immodium, Ibuprofen, safety pins, nylon repair patches, disinfectant wipes, passport and hand sanitizer.  The only things I believe I am missing are energy gels and those are at the DHL depot in Zurich ready for collection.

The first time up the Uetiberg I chose a ridiculously steep path and it wasn't actually possible to run in places as it was so steep.  I kept up the pace though, and when I couldn't run I walked as fast as I could.  Apart from the steepest sections I was running the whole way.  The second time up I chose a less steep route that I could run without problems.  I was seriously considering abandoning my plan part way through the second ascent as I felt exhausted, but I am quite stubborn once I have set my mind to something, and that stubborn part of my mind told me not to give up.  Several minutes later I got a second wind and then I felt fine again.  It is great to know that I can recover on the move.

Remember all my running at the moment I am doing without the aid of energy gels, to teach my body to burn fat.  Over the next few weeks as I introduce energy gels into my training it will be interesting to see if that makes me go even faster.  I have a sneaky suspicion it will.

The summary of today's run is that I covered 21km (approx 13 miles) in 2 hours 41 minutes and 35 seconds with 818 vertical metres climbed.  My average heart rate was 131bpm and my maximum heart rate was 156bpm.   The activity on Garmin Connect is here  Now it is time to rest folks.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Tempo running with 8.5kg backpack

Howdy folks.  As you may have noticed the majority of my training has been long steady runs and I haven't done much speedwork at all.  Hill training on the other hand I have done plenty of, with the Uetliberg and Zurichberg being my regular routes.

In light of this fact I decided today to do a tempo run.  The idea of a tempo run is that you run near to your lactate threshold for around 30 minutes max.  Normally you would do a tempo run without a backpack, but since I need to be able to run fast with one I decided to wear it on my tempo run.  It weighs the same as it has done the last few times i.e. 7kg plus 1.5kg of water so 8.5kg.

I set off a little too fast and my heart rate went up to 177bpm, which I cannot maintain for long at all.  That is way above my lactate threshold.  Then I settled in to a good rhythm with an average heart rate of 154bpm.  If you look at the activity on Garmin Connect you will see that apart from the initial peak in my heart rate, it was almost a perfect horizontal line.  It felt tough but sustainable and I was blowing hard but steadily.  I was unable to give a sprint finish, as the finish was uphill from the river to the apartment.

In 30 minutes and 2 seconds I covered 6.1km, which seems okay to me considering I was wearing the pack.  Without it I would expect to go much faster of course.  I will try and fit in some more of these tempo runs over the next couple of weeks and see if it can help inject some more speed in to my legs.  Tomorrow will be a long steady run again though, as well as a session of hot yoga.

On a final note, I was wearing my desert shoes with gaiters on, and I didn't experience any problems.  6.1km is pretty short though and I will need to wear them on a longer run to see if I get any more blisters like I did the other day.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Trying more freeze dried meals and 2 more runs in full gear

Hi everyone.  I hope that you are all well.  Yesterday I tried out some more of the freeze dried meals.  For my main course I had the Backpacker's Pantry Spaghetti and Sauce, and for desert I had the Mountain House Custard with Mixed Fruit.  Once again they were really tasty and I will be happy to eat them during the MDS.  I still have more varieties to try, and will do so after finishing this post.

Some more flavours to try

In addition to kit testing by means of eating I have also been doing more training in full gear (except for the shoes as I wanted to see if my blisters the other day were caused by the larger race shoes or by the new socks).  Luckily it has been warm enough that I can get away with wearing just my Nike Tempo 2 in 1 shorts and RailRiders Ecomesh top.  Having now done 3 decent training runs in full gear I can give a better idea of how the kit is faring for me.  I can report back that the Oakley Eye Jacket XLJ sunglasses now feel really comfortable and are not making any tender spots above my ears like they did the first time.  My feet are also very comfortable in the Injinji toe socks and no further pilling has occurred since the first run.  Since I am now running in the PT03 winter version shoes and they are the correct size, I can only assume my awful blisters after the first run were caused by wearing the PT03 desert shoes I will be using in the MDS that are one size larger.  I will try to wear the desert shoes some more times so that my feet get used to them, but running around town in long gaiters still feels a bit strange.  The shorts and top feel very comfortable, and the rucksack fits well.  All in all I am now very happy with my kit choice.

My run yesterday was 22km (5km with Anny where she set herself a new PB and then 17km by myself).  I ran up and down the Uetliberg a couple of times, but not all the way to the top, and the total elevation gain over the 22km was 597 metres.

That run was followed today by a 21km run towards Forch, with 327 metres of elevation gain.  Both times I was carrying my rucksack with all the food and gear in it, plus 1.5 litres of water.  I tried not to drink the water I was carrying and instead to drink from the water fountains so that I can get used to the extra weight.  Don't forget that I don't yet have the energy gels in my pack and they will weigh 20 times 33g so 660g or so.  The average weight of water I will be carrying in the MDS will be 0.75kg, since we will be given 1.5 litres at each checkpoint and I will try to drink it evenly between the checkpoints so that it is finished by the time I reach the next checkpoint.  That means that I was carrying enough extra water today throughout the run to compensate for the weight of the energy gels that I will put in my pack.

In terms of energy gels I have decided to go with a mixture of Gu and Gu Roctane Gels.  Gu Roctane is a lot more expensive but contains extra ingredients such as caffeine and food stuffs that aid recovery.  Gu suggest that you mix the two and that is also a cheaper option than consuming Gu Roctane gels alone.  They will be arriving in the post next week and I have ordered plenty of spares to play around with in training.  They contain 100 calories each and weigh 33g so are quite energy dense.  That will be an extra 2,000 calories or so, making around 17,000 in total now.

I plan to do another run of 21km tomorrow wearing full kit.  I will try wearing the desert shoes again and maybe put on an extra pair of socks to reduce the amount my foot slides around.  But now folks I am off to go and try more of the freeze dried meals - yum yum.  Enjoy the rest of your weekends.