31 Aug 2012
Training at altitude
I’ve just returned home from a fantastic three-week training camp in Flagstaff, Arizona. Elite runner Alicia Shay kindly hosted me and Erin for the duration of the stay and made us feel part of her family.
I shared a busy house with a group of runners from Portland, Oregon. They all train under Jerry Schumacher (Nike Oregon Project). It was a great experience hanging out with these world-class runners. Getting some insight into their training was interesting, but it was also nice to share a space with people from other walks of life. Each of us was training for a different distance or event, but we managed to get in a few easy runs together when our schedules aligned. Seven athletes living in one house made for a very busy kitchen. Every breakfast, lunch and dinner we performed a wild dance, dodging one another while preparing our meals; fortunately, Alicia has two fridges, both of which were jam-packed with food. Busy meal times were a stark contrast to the hours of quiet between runs (most of us averaged two workouts per day). We retreated to our rooms to nap or rest quietly, watching videos or reading. Full-time runners take rest seriously, and particularly so at altitude. The idea is to train hard and recover hard.
Without doubt, the highlight of the trip was a pug named Cody. The family dog adopted me while Alicia was away for a week. This little creature was a training partner of sorts, (at least on the napping and snuggling front), and a great source of entertainment. The loud snoring left something to be desired, but even so, I miss her like crazy already.
As for training outcomes, I feel fitter for putting in some big efforts during challenging sessions at altitude (7200 ft). Coach Trent’s plan emphasized aerobic training and included a few key tempo workouts within higher mileage weeks. These featured some steady running in the final 40-50 minutes of my long Sunday runs and 3 x 15 mins. at marathon effort. My final workout was a familiar one: 6-5-4-3-2-1km. The session starts at marathon pace and gradually moves down to 5-10km pace with diminishing rest periods (from 5 mins. down to 1 min. between the final two intervals). I was able to hit the paces with the usual 10-15” necessary adjustment for altitude, so was really pleased. Despite the added stress of hot temperatures (30C most days), I completed back-to-back 180km weeks feeling strong. It helped that I was able to get plenty of rest, nutrition and hydration to balance the extra stress-load. Recovery included ice baths, contrast showers and massage. Camps that take me away from home and work support focused training and recovery. Let’s hope the combo pays off over the next important training block leading up to the Toronto marathon.
Victoria Track Series, September 1 event
On Saturday, September 1, I’ll be running my first-ever 10,000m on the UVic track. This is the final event of the Victoria Track Series. Trent and I are using the race as a chance to run a faster, harder effort. Coming off a week of significant volume, it will be a test to see how my loaded legs respond to the quicker effort.
Evening events begin at 6:40pm with the 10,000m set for 8pm. This is an opportunity to check out some great running, so hope to see some of you there.