After the Christmas and New Year festivities I tend to always spend the month of January doing as much exercise as possible. I treat it like my own version of an AFL footballers ‘Pre-Season’ where I get out on the ‘track’ and ‘put the effort in’. It’s really an opportunity for me to just not focus on any work trips, exercise as much as possible and then rest while watching the different offerings of Aussie summer sport (cricket, tennis, NBL, A-league). This year has been ever better because I was able to extend my pre-season through February and March and just keep rolling my training through due to a change I had made with my employment. During this ‘pre-season’ period I go through and:
- Identify my goals for the upcoming year and make sure they are: a) relevant to long-term goals and b) possible to fit in around work commitments.
- Check what areas of my fitness I have neglected over the past few months. Stretching, strength, aerobic, diet, anaerobic capabilities all get a brief check.
- Go over what successes I had last year as a form of confidence building for the year ahead.
From this process for this year I worked out that I would like to focus on my running and trying to do a couple of long journeys throughout the Flinders and the Victorian Alps. The first goal for this year will be the Alpine Challenge 60km trail running race in late April. This rolls in nicely to the fact that I identified that I had not been doing any consistent aerobic work for a while so that was numero uno priority this pre-season. Lastly, I celebrated the fact that I had pushed my climbing to a level I didn’t think I’d achieve and had fit in a couple of really good bushwalks with my Dad. Both of those were itches that were well and truly scratched last year.
Alpine Challenge Specifics:
This race is 60km and involves a lot of elevation. Completing it in under 7 hours is a pretty good way to earn a podium spot and something that I think is achievable. I raced the 2018 Bogong 2 Hotham and was sitting in 3rd, which I was surprised with at the time, until about 45km when I blew up due to poor nutrition and my legs buckling under all the hills. For this race my training will focus on three areas:
- Aerobic endurance. 7 hrs is a long time to be moving so I need to make sure my aerobic capacity is very high and I never hit the red zone.
- Leg endurance. The elevation change in the first 20km is pretty big so it’d be nice to make it through that section without too much damage.
- Nutrition practice and confidence building. Something that every runner is always experimenting with. This time my aim in training would be to see how much food and liquids I could fit in without getting too bloated/heavy.
So far, the training has been going well. Coming off 0km a week in December I have built up to a few 130km+ weeks and am averaging around 100km a week. I entered a couple of Adelaide Trail Runner Summer Series races and enjoyed the opportunity to have some competition and get pushed to run fast. Two first place finishes were also nice rewards. A typical week for me at the moment is centred around one long run of 2.5+hr duration, a medium long run of 2 hrs, at least one run that has some tempo style intervals to break up the monotony of running slow and then just lots of other easy running. For my long run I record my nutrition from the day before and then during the run and simply how it makes me feel. Getting comfortable with running in a vest again is also part of this experience. In addition to this, I value incorporating 1-3hrs of strength training per week to ensure my legs are going to be ready for the pounding of the High Country and also to maintain some base fitness for climbing. I’ll start to phase this out a bit at the start of April so that all my energy and focus is on running and my body’s adaptive ability is not being wasted on other activities. With the extra time, and the time I’ll gain from not working at the Quorn & Hawker Pools, I’ll likely spend scrambling around different off-track areas of the Flinders as a way to get more time on the legs in a low-key, low-effort totally aerobic way.
My motivation is pretty good at the moment for this specific race as I know the end result of focusing my training on it will give me a good base for other goals later in the year. Finally, one of the hidden benefits of sharing this information about my training is that I hope friends and family will be keen to chat more about this race with me and what excites me about it because the more opportunities you get to talk about your focus on a particular goal, the more you will naturally be inclined to make favourable choices in the direction of attaining that goal! That’s the idea at least.
Note: The feature image is of a group of runners training at Percy Cerutty’s famous Portsea Training Camp, the breeding ground for Herb Elliot, one of Australia’s greatest runners.