5 weeks to go.
Good morning, and what a windy, drizzly miserable day it is. Weather watchers will realise that the gulfstream is late shifting this year. The warm weather from the Gulf of Mexico works it's way across the Atlantic towards Europe and as it hits the cold air coming down from thae Arctic it develops into low pressure areas which brings wind and rain. This band is narrow, High pressure to the North and the South. Now, during spring, this low pressure band moves north and passes over Britain, gradually, over a few weeks. This gives us our "April showers" before the High pressure areas move up and give us our warm sunny summer days. I'm glad I listened in meteorology lessons.
As you can probably guess, this is all messed up, natural climate change, which means that the North of England, mostly this area (including the Lake District and the Isle of Man) are in a wet and windy patch which sems to have lasted a few weeks so far, yet the south east of England have reports that they have less rainfall than the Sahara Desert. I'm keeping an eye on it, when the High pressure areas start moving off to the north then we'll start to get the long hot sunny days we all want to enjoy. If they don't move up, then we'll have a wet and miserable summer similar to the last 3 years. There were signs showing movement last year which was why I did some warm weather training, i.e. wrap up warm in hot weather to raise body temperature and so acclimatise the body ready for a warm race. 5 weeks is too early to predict whether the race will be hot or wet, especially as warm dry weather is only a couple of hundred miles to the south, but a couple of weeks will start to give us a clue. On my best guess, windy and rain, but warm temperatures so lightweight waterproofs, unless high pressure areas start moving in in the next 2 or 3 weeks.
So a good chance for everyone to get out training today, warmish, with the wind and showers that will be possible on the day, it's all about training in conditions that will be prevalant during the race. I'll be resting today before driving down to Tamworth tomorrow for the inter area 10k. It's race conditions, every race like this is giving me more experience, and more high speed training (well, high speed for me, and compared to my parish speeds) It's an hour so there won't be too much damage, so I should be able to get out for light recovery training on monday, and a planned weeks training before the Olympic test 20k on the Mall a week on Monday. It isn't essential I do well in that one, but it will give me an indication of how my training is coming on. Last year I trained solidly right up to the parish for 3 months, walking daily, and I think I peaked a month earlier in the Bradford whit walk. I'm doing different types of training this year, every Parish brings more experience, and race walk training has, hopefully, improved my economy and speed, as well as kept away injuries. Rest days like this are difficult for me to do, and occasional races where I have to rest beforehand and recover afterwards give me the incentive to rest.
One difference for me this year is that I'm trying to make every training session useful. Last year I walked every day thinking it was essential when it was often giving me little benefit. Lots of you will be out training today and tomorrow, remember to make it worthwhile. Training should be done at an intensity to make your body work enough to improve overall fitness. You should be walking at a speed to get an average heart rate at about 80% of maximum. Maximum is 220 minus your age, so if you are 30, 220 minus 30 is 190, then 80% about 150 to 160. This will tire the muscles, develop waste and lactic acid in the muscles that the heart will have to work slightly harder to clear. The bloodstream will have to work harder to deliver oxygen. The longer you walk, the quicker the stored glycogen levels will be used up, so body fat reserves will be eaten into. The body has to learn how to use stored body fat as fuel, especially in people who have been relatively dormant, but the good news is that once it starts, it keeps it up, the metabolism changes because the body knows it has to fuel up. If you don't have a heart rate monitor (they are available second hand on ebay for less than £20) then when you're out walking, do so at a speed that makes you slightly out of breath. If you are out walking with a friend, then conversation should be at such a rate that you have to take a breath every few words. You should be sweating, that means the muscles are working enough that you are warmed up nicely, and the body has to cool down. If you are walking and not getting tired then you aren't benefiting from it.
To improve your training, every 5 or 10 minutes, have a quick session. Pick out a tree or lamp post a couple of hundred yards ahead and walk towards it as quick as you can, and ten minutes later, try and do it a bit quicker. This type of training will improve your stamina and speed as it improves muscle fibres, making them tougher.
Before training, stretching and warming up. Don't go straight out and start walking at speed because the muscles are cold and could cramp up. Try walking up the stairs a few times, just gently at first, to get the heart rate up and blood circulating ready for the off. Stretching will straighten muscle fibres and allow more range of movement so preventing injury. When you start your training walk, start off slowly and build up speed.
Afterwards, recovery is vital. slow down a half a mile or a mile from home to allow the heart rate to gently drop back to normal. This lets the bloodstream deal with muscle waste instead of leaving it in the muscles. Stretching post training helps this waste to clear and helps recovery. Re-hydrate and take on protein. The amino acids in protein help repair muscle damage quicker so reducing recovery time.
Make the training work for you, and come the day, you'll enjoy it so much more, and you'll have a better chance of reaching your goal.