As a kid I never really enjoyed participating in sports, I was a bit of a klutz, not being particularly gifted with any physical skills other than some endurance. This endurance did favour me when it came to long distance running, and I was briefly in the school cross country team, however I was always more interested in bunking off for a sneaky smoke than competing with my peers, so that soon fizzled out. My aversion to physical activity continued through my youth into my thirties, when the pressing need to change my bad lifestyle meant I then discovered the gym, then marathons and quickly after triathlons.
Was a bit on and off, but apart from a one particularly bad spell, I was reasonably active for the next 20 years or so until, as explained in the previous blog(s), everything started to fall apart two years ago. Been a few false starts but now it does at long last feel that I maybe on the cusp of getting back on the wagon and out there training and competing again.
It occurred to me when I was out on my Monday morning walk, this is actually like starting at the beginning again, only half a lifetime older! Now I have to be so very careful not to overdo things in case I get injured again, my body aches after the simplest of runs, and it takes at least 48 hrs to recover. I managed my first 15km run in a year at the weekend, which while tough at the start I did enjoy the second half, even though the pace was a good 2min/km slower than a couple of years ago. At my current level and with my current weight I can’t imagine running a marathon, let alone a 250km stage race in the desert, however my experience tells me that I’ll get there, just need to stick with the plan, don’t get over ambitious but at same time push through and stay consistent.
Same goes with the bike. My power and speed has always been right at the bottom of the heap (I kid you not, was only recently I managed to get on the scale, and at the level of non-trained/non-athletic), and again just my endurance got me through. I have been building my FTP since I started racing, but it is still ridiculously low. I have seen many examples of a new rider come in who has been comparable to me at the start, then watch with a mixture jealously and admiration as he/she soon speeds up the chart into the power numbers I can only dream about.
Swimming – meh, I’m closer to a pig than a porpoise. Well, I can blow my own trumpet a bit, as when looking through old excel training logs I saw that in my first Half Ironman race just after the turn of the century (makes it seem a long time ago when I say that!), it took me over an hour to complete the 1.9km swim, whereas now I can just about manage 90mins for the 3.8km full IM. Some big improvements, but I am still way back in the field.
Which brings us to the present. After having almost two years without any races, and 3 years since a full marathon or Ironman, I am feeling the excitement and nerves I felt way back when I first started. The fact that one of my target races is the Marathon de Sables, which will be my first ultra, means I genuinely don’t know if I will be able to complete the distance and which has me at my most obsessed. This manifests itself in such activities as constantly watching MdS related videos, reading MdS related books, keep signing up to any relevant online groups and an uncontrollable desire to purchase every conceivable piece of gear you can imagine ( I am sure I would be talking about it constantly too, but being locked away alone at the moment, there is no-one to bore with the details!)
I have so much to learn, from new ways of training (nope, I don’t need to run ultra-distances in training to complete ultra-distance in races but yep, I do need to learn to combine walking and running over marathon distances, day after day), to discovering what nutrition works for me both on the daily run as well as in camp. I have to test all sorts of running gear to find what will see me through 7 days in the desert without chaffing or falling apart, and it being a fully self-supported I need to decide on everything from sleeping bag and mat, hygiene, cooking etc etc and of course , the backpack to carry it all in.
It’s going to be an interesting journey, and just for fun, think I will start putting up my stats on here! Last week marked the start of the one year countdown to MdS, so will call that week one, and the following are my numbers
Base line stats – On arriving back in UK 16th March
Blood Pressure 144/81
Stats as of 29 March
Blood Pressure: 124/77
Training Week One – week ending 28th March
Run: Total 30km. 3 sessions. Long run 15km
Bike: Total 6:15hrs. 4 sessions all indoors. Long Bike 3:15hrs
Swim: None (pools closed). 1 x 45 minutes rowing
S&C : 2 x 30 minutes body weight