The last couple of weeks have brought some variation to my training. In addition to my usual off road moor runs I have enjoyed some long road runs home from work, a beach and dune run and running with a much heavier pack – although I didn’t enjoy the latter much and cycling.
Work hard, run home
So road running is not really my thing but after struggling to motivate myself out into the freezing cold after returning to a warm home following a long day at work I decided it best to cut out that step! The next day I changed straight into my running gear, filled my pack with all my work gear and set off running home. As many people have pointed out to me (and I already realised!) work to home is all up hill. I chose a ‘scenic’ even hillier route and feeling like forrest gump off I trotted home. Nearly 13 miles. Lots of busy road crossings. 2.5 hours. Training done for the day. The following week I did it twice. This week will bring it again.
What took me slightly by surprise on these runs has been my ability to zone out and take my mind elsewhere – a skill which I’m sure will serve me well in the desert! With most of my running being shared with the company of great friends or being off road and concentrating on the next step I haven’t experienced this complete zone out for a while.
Woah – sand dunes make your legs burn! Especially with 6kg in your back pack – but this is nothing compared to miles of dunes with up to 10kg on your back which I will be experiencing soon. All said though I loved my day at the beach (Druridge bay) made even better by the company of my two oldest and bestest friends, one with her beautiful newborn son. Part of my beach running involved dune reps back to my friends who soon sent me on the next rep!! Lovely food and a good catch up followed. Fantastic day. I learnt some valuable lessons about how to ascend and descend dunes, how it feels to have sand in your shoes and a but about how sand moves. All this sounds really obvious but you think about things in a different light when you are heading to the Sahara for a week. It has helped me decide on sock choice (injinji toes socks with my usual running socks on top), shoe size (with the double socks and knowing my feet swell I am going for a UK size bigger for my race shoe) and also encouraged me to add some steep hill reps in the coming weeks training.
I have become perfectly happy with 5kg in my pack for long hilly runs. An increase to 7.5kg was a shock (especially as I thought I only had 6kg until l got home and weighed it properly!). At no point was I going to abort my 15 mile run but I was much slower than usual and forced to walk most of the climbs. I am confident that I will soon become accustomed to the heavier weight as I did with 5kg.
I also find it mildly entertaining to fill my pack with bags of muesli and rice to get the weight up.
In an attempt to get the best calories per gram for food I actually like I have a spreadsheet to add the information to. This also includes macronutrient content so that I can try and have enough carbohydrate during the day and fill up on protein and fat at night. Dehydrated foods seem the best option. John, Simon and I got together and had an MDS picnic (whilst watching Genis’ webinar) to try a few. We tried four. For me – two were ok, even pretty nice – one was unpleasant but edible and the fourth just revolting!! I love my food and will eat most things but am at my fussiest when I am tired. So it is going to be really important for me psychologically to know that I’m going to eat food I like at the end of each day in the desert. While it is expensive to keep trying these dehydrated foods I need to find another that I like. I have sorted my snacks though. 9bar! I love them! The peanut ones are 290kcal for 50g weight and they taste like food not just energy goo. I am also taking some pumpkin bars (250kcal/50g) and the breakfast bars. Twiglets, jelly beans, granola, allsports desert survival formula and pot noodle will constitute the rest of my food in the desert.
Riding my bike has been on the back burner with run training taking priority. The last few weeks have been me on my bike more often, mostly for active travel. I have really enjoyed it. It is in addition to my runs but I feel like it has taken pressure off running somehow.
Scorpions, being hungry, being stuck on a treadmill going nowhere….are featuring in my dreams during the last week! I can tell the event is getting closer…..