Thursday, 21 April 2011

21st April 2011

            Another fine day, excellent warm weather training conditions, and I got out at lunchtime for my 8.5 mile hilly circuit for some more fast twitch muscle training in preparation for next weekends national 20k in London. Now I know the exercises on picking up speed are working, looking to improve on 1h 59 for the 20k. Everything went well today, the circuit is nicely spaced out with the hills, uphill for a few minutes with evenly spaced flat and downhill sections to work on sprints.

              I'm quite pleased with the results, on the sprints I got up to 7 minutes a mile (only for 30 seconds at a time....) and up to 6 minutes a mile a few times, legs and arms off like crazy, and heart rate up, over 200 a few times to give excellent cardio as well. The slow (relatively) stretches in between were about 10m 30s a mile, so normal walking is quickening up. Average for the circuit is 5.8mph which, obviously, I can't keep up for 85 miles! Still, I've been working on required speeds for various finishes. Last year, at 16h 51m, average was a shade under 5.1mph, or 11m 55 s a mile. To do a same day finish, 16 hours, is just over 11m 30s, or 5.3 mph, so a little improvement to get done on saturday night before the pubs shut. (A figure of speech, I know the pubs are open a little later...)
          Still, anyone who has a target can pretty much calculate speed required. 4mph or 15 minutes a mile can give you a highly respectable 21h 15 mins, or 5:30am finish, and if you're out training just to finish, the average is just over 3.5 mph, or 18 minutes a mile. I had no way of timing my first two Parishes, mainly because I didn't really know where I was, so no way of knowing how far I'd gone or how far to go. In the end, Helen checked I was okay, drove on two miles on her car milometer, and timed me catching up. Under half an hour meant i was keeping up around 4mph, which helped my psychologically as it meant I was cutting time off the 24 hours finishing point, and crucially meant I knew when I could ease back and rest for a while to get ready for a push. It's worth taking time to plan your parish, especially if it's your first attempt at finishing. Distances and times at each church, that's planned times and latest times necessary, can help mentally if you know you're up on your time. And at the end, knowing times can give you a target for next time. I finished my first in 21h 30m, in my mind I was calculating and knew this was about 3.9mph, making me determined to break 4mph next time. It also gives your support crew an idea on how well you are doing, they can gee you up if you're a little behind, or congratulate you if you are doing well.

       I'm taking a short break now, got a fresh mackeral off one of the boats this morning and I can smell from the oven it's almost done, braised in white wine and milk, with vegetables and garlic, high in nutrients and omega oils. I'm preparing a piece on nutrition in endurance events which I've gleaned from the University, advice from other race walkers, triathletes and marathon runners, which I hope to post in the near future. It's taken me four years of trial and error, and research to get a pre, during and post race diet. I bet I still feel queezy on the day though.

             All done now.
             I had a rest day yesterday, Tuesdays exhertions took their toll. I ended up with 60 miles on the bike, 10 miles walking, and an hour and half on the windsurfing. I felt it necessary because one of the things you can't plan for is the latter stages of the parish, when the muscles are aching and you don't know if you have the physical and mental stamina to push through and get to the finish. It started at 10am, went through the afternoon, with a cycle to work at 10pm, and after work, at 1am, a 10 mile cycle home, when you really want to go to bed, but push up those hills on the pedals to keep going that bit further. It was tough but it gives me vital experience on going that little bit further when you don't want to. On race day, the whole atmosphere of the event gives a further impetus to carry on, but it's nice to know you can push when you really don't feel like it. I know it's probably unnecessary but really, every little helps. It also gave me a post Parish feeling of aching muscles and tiredness. I find that even after 20 miles nowadays, there's no real muscle ache I used to have. My feet are in good condition now, the trouble I've had with my right heel falling to bits since 2007 and up to last year is not making itself noticed, although 85 miles is a long way so fingers are crossed.

           On a completely different note, and one which I find interesting, is the write up on the 2002 Parish. Peter Kaneen did no training for a month beforehand due to a virus, one 10 mile walk a fortnight before was abandoned and a walk a week before had the same outcome. So, bad preparation, and he expected to get no further than Santon. The result? He fended off a challenge from Robbie Callister to register the second fastest time ever! True, he was an accomplished race walker, but make of it what you will, an outstanding walk despite all the problems and most likely proof that the Parish is just as much a mental challenge as a physical one.
        I read that report and others of the time, only ten years ago, admiring how much the Parish has come on in recent years. That win made him only the sixth man to get under the 16 hours, and here i am even daring to plan for the same feat. Last year was so annoying because of the problems I had, I was heading for pretty much the same feat, and it would possibly have got me a top 3 place. This year, looking at the times in the winter races on the island and further afield, it could well be possible to see the top five or more under the same time.
        It would be nice if I was one of them. First priority though, like all parish walkers say, you have to get to the finish line. It's a long, long way.

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