The First Timers Perspective On Off-Road Training
One of my first blogs was predominantly about my goals and probably the biggest point I promoted was that from the very start I wanted to be clear on what I wanted to get out of the event. For me this was enjoyment and I built every aspect of my approach to the event around this. Within reason, if I wasn’t going to enjoy doing an aspect of the preparation – I didn’t. So with one week to go I thought I’d share a bit about how my preparation has gone.
I have said this previously – 90% if not more of effort is actually expended in training. By way of illustrating this point I have provided a highly technical graph based on hundreds of hours of research. Taking this into consideration my blog is not specifically based on what I have done for training but rather a little more detail on my approach to training and why I trained this way. So here we go. The key principles that I have applied to my training:
Less Running Is More Running
The title really describes what’s going on here – less is more. I’ve run no more than twice per week. For one or two weeks I did three runs because I actually wanted to and on a couple of weeks I only did one. There were a couple of reasons for this: The more you run the greater your chance of getting an injury during training, especially if you haven’t done much running in the past or recently. Secondly I wanted to enjoy the whole experience of this event including the training which is actually where you spend 90% of the journey. If I was trying to train 3-4 times a week I’d have no choice but to basically be running every second day, recovery times are a lot shorter and mentally it can become a chore. I’m not saying it’s not good to train this often but I think my key point would be that I’ve based my training commitment on what I want out of the event – enjoyment. On any given day if I didn’t feel like running I left it to the next day…. And sometimes the next after that – within reason.
Mix It Up
I have a strong dislike for repetition and really didn’t want to get bored training so to get around this and to get the most out of my training I actively mixed it up. For me the biggest part about mixing it up meant choosing different routes and locations. It’s not always practical to do this when fitting training in around family and work so just once a week I made a point of going for a little drive and finding somewhere new to run – preferable on a track where I can equally enjoy the environment. I’ve been out to the Waitakere Ranges, The Domain in Auckland and in general all over. Mixing it up also meant changing my actual training up. I’m lucky enough to have a wicked set of stairs five minutes from work and I probably did around four sessions of training on these as well as some really cool hills in Herne Bay. Check out my favourite set of stairs – they might look friendly but trust me with 75 steps to the top 10 intervals will make most people’s legs shake for a few minutes. Some weeks I focused on distance and other weeks I just went out for a cruise with no real intent. My favourite run was a 12km run in the Waitakere Ranges and at one point I had a view east across to the Waitemata and a view west to Huia Dam in the early morning half-light – pretty stunning.
Subsidise Your Training
I actively limited the amount of running that I did but that did not mean that I was limiting my training. I really tried to think about what to expect in the run – namely stairs, hills and lots of uneven ground. I’ve had a really bad ankle injury in the past which I don’t want a repeat of or any other kind of injury. Once a week I took some time to do some leg strengthening exercises with the mind of strengthening my legs not only to hopefully make the run a bit easier but to help prevent injury through training and the event. I did happen to do these at the gym but you don’t need a gym membership to do this and you don’t need any special equipment. Exercises like calf raises, squats or lunges are all incredibly good for you and can even be done in your lounge when no one is looking. The other thing I thought about was cross training. Cycling is great cross training for running. The key message again is just because I was only running twice a week didn’t mean that I wasn’t doing other activities which equally supported my desire to keep things fresh and fun.
So that in a nutshell was my recipe to survive 16km of the Hillary. No real science but I have enjoyed it immensely. If you take one thing from this please remember that this is what is working for me, based on my body and what I want out of the event – but you’re welcome to take from it what you want. In terms of what’s next…. With just under one week to go I’m going into final prep mode and having a relatively easy exercise week. I had my last big run in the weekend (see tomorrow’s blog) and I’ve got some shopping planned to collect the essential gear list with items like survival blankets.