Hitting the Rebound Wall

When I was in primary school in Melbourne I used to play a lot more tennis than I currently watch. The issue with tennis is you need someone to play with if you’re going to practice to become any good. As much as you want to be the best, if you don’t have anyone to practice with, bad luck it’s not happening. Unless that is, you hit up ‘the rebound wall’, a brick structure that is literally a wall with a piece of bitumen in front of at the local primary school. I could hit against the rebound wall for extra training without needing an opponent! If I had spent every possible hour (besides all the other life stuff that a ten year old has going for them) hitting against the rebound wall I probably still wouldn’t have become ‘the best’ but I would’ve been closer to where-ever I got.

If I was going to be the best in the world, or even Victoria I would’ve taken, and I knew hitting the rebound wall was the thing to get me there then yes, I probably would’ve spent every possible hour there. I was smart enough to realise though that hitting a brick wall is very different to actually playing tennis. However, honing in on the idea that using every possible hour to train and work towards the goal of being ‘the best’ (and instead focusing on being ‘the best’ I CAN BE) and hitting the rebound wall is an easy image to create in my head. It’s also now what I’m striving to recreate, just without the tennis and the rebound wall part.

As soon as I wake up, kettle on, make lunch for the day, drink coffee then head out for a 30-40 minute run. Home, change clothes, breakfast, go to work. Work. Drive back, change clothes, run until it’s dark and I’m tired. Hit the mother fucking rebound wall. Eat dinner. Life admin jobs. Watch a bit of sport on TV. Stretch. Bed. 5 days a week. On weekends, run longer, rest more, watch more sport.

Having a singular focus on training for the World Champs has allowed me to create and follow this routine of trying to ‘hit the rebound wall’ as much as possible. While a good result at the world champs will be nice, it’s already good to have taken the learning about how fun and engaged it feels to train as much as possible in the time I have available. If I can continue this strategy of hitting the rebound wall of training as much as possible (without getting silly with it) then I can be confident I will have done everything in my capacity to prepare for the World Champs, I can race with confidence and I can enjoy whatever result I earn.

With that in mind, my last week of training looked like this:

Figure 1 shows it was another solid week of distance in the legs getting up to my now standard 180 ish km’s a week. I also burnt around 12,000 calories which seems to be my upper limit for what I can hit. The big win of the week was hitting a new PB in ascent/elevation gained over the week of 4830m. This figure puts me on or above what other top trail runners are achieving on a weekly basis according to my Strava stalking missions.

Figure 2 is another snapshot of the one off, three on, one off, two on method I mentioned previously while Figure 3 is a new update to the Suunto app. It puts into neat little words the progress of my training and according to the AI behind it, I’m doing OK.

This week’s biggest highlights were running up and down Devils Peak 3 times in one run on Tuesday and doing the same thing with Mt.Brown on my Sunday long run. The Devils Peak effort was all about getting more experience at handling steep technical terrain. The fatigue I felt on efforts 2 and 3 was more muscular endurance than cardiovascular and it basically became harder and harder to keep springing my legs up and off rocks. I had to slow to a walk on both the 2nd and 3rd efforts right at the end which shows I was really working at my limit.

Devils Peak Elevation Profile

On Sunday at Mt.Brown the aim was to get used to running for 3 hrs with no flat terrain and see how that felt. The pace is a lot slower when running up and down on rocky trails instead of running on a flat road and it’s because of this, that after 3 hrs (or maybe it’s my fitness) I felt pretty fine. Yes, the third lap up Mt.Brown was a little slower than laps 1 and 2 but still, I felt that if I had to I could’ve kept going. The World Champs are going to be similar to this style of run where I’ll be going from descending straight into ascending over the course of 4-4.5 hours.

In addition to my training over the weekend, I also was able to spend some good quality time out in the garden. Pottering around sweeping, raking, pulling out weeds and mulching (see below) while I had the footy on was bloody awesome. When I visualised moving to Quorn to train to be the best outdoor athlete I could be I pictured myself training hard of course but then when not training just being content hanging around the house making it look tidy. And that is exactly what I did on the weekend. The area below used to be red dirt in between the healthy looking bushes (you can still see some red dirt in the left figure) but now, having planted a bunch of plants in the dirt, I put down some leaf mulch I’d been strategically collecting over the last twelve months and it should hopefully give the new plants a helping hand.

Finishing on a running note though, as I’m already into my next week of training one thing that’s been clicking over in my mind this week has been how do I get faster? Can I achieve a level where my legs can’t turnover fast enough to match to cardiovascular potential? Is this why I didn’t feel absolutely wrecked at the end of the half-marathon? Experimenting with things is pretty fun when it comes to any sport (and it’s why I enjoy not having a coach sometimes because they ruin the fun by just telling you the info) and this week’s experiment has been to lean forward more as per the East African’s in the picture below.

I feel as if I’ve been running with quite an erect posture and to move faster I need to simply move my legs faster. At times though, it feels like I’m pedalling a bike that’s going downhill. As much as I move my feet on the pedals (the ground) I’m not really achieving anything. So, instead, if I lean forward a bit more and get gravity to help draw my upper body along while also allowing me to increase my stride length then I can achieve a faster pace with the same rate of leg turnover as before. Or so that’s my theory. I could be all wrong. But I have to test my theory first. And that’s this week’s big game in addition to the now normal goal of hitting 180kms and 4000+ m of elevation.

Thanks for reading.

One response to “Hitting the Rebound Wall”

  1. […] Over the weekend I cracked another milestone. I made a sixth and extra trip for the week through the Pass to Port Augusta for a 5km parkrun time trial. I was rewarded for my extra fuel expenditure and the previous 3-4 months of training with a new 5km PB of 14:58. Yep, I just snuck in there, might’ve been that extra bit of leaning forward with my technique that just got me under 15 minutes! […]


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