DIARY: Autumn training starts

Return to training has taken a lot of conviction, there are times when you can’t wait for your next run, but this week I’ve had to mentally drag myself out. Some days it had turned late evening before I finally hauled my feet onto the road, yet the work at least got done.

The tally came to 117km spread over nine runs (seven aerobic sessions and two morning jogs) which show at least that my tolerance for training has settled on a new and higher plateau. Pace was satisfactory in the road sections and the ratio of hill-running to road-running seemed about right with five out of nine runs featuring severe climbing. The overall climb of just over 3000m for the week looks good, but I better start tracking this more precisely to see how it compares to earlier feats and how performance interacts with the overall climb.

Yesterday saw my first “uphill trial” session on Camaderry and it sure was a trial (with plenty of tribulations). My initial goal was to set a new baseline at 55 minutes for the 8km climb (starting at the Visitor Centre) to the top but whilst I was on target at 4km (22 minutes) I just didn’t have the juice to sustain that level of effort. I didn’t want my HR to slip into the 170ies as that would defeat the purpose of an aerobic trial and basically constitute “cheating”, and felt the post-season blues in my legs before consolidating a bit towards the top and hitting the cairn in 56:12, a satisfying start and only 1 second slower than my previous best.

That left only the long run and I opted for a modified version of my Six Summits route in the end as I had planned not to go too far over 2:30 in my first week. I took a slightly longer route to Derrybawn before leaving out Lugduff and completed the 22.5km with 819m ascent in 2:41 at an average HR of 145.

Definitely on the slow side (as I did the 24.5km version in 2:40-2:45 during the season) but speed was not my priority especially not watching my ankle on the route's five technical descents of which I was particularly pleased with good footwork coming off the Spink to the Miner's Village.

Heart rate rather was the most important part as the majority of my aerobic work this week has snuck into the 150-161 range. There are two explanations for this: Firstly, I did a good few “quality aerobic” sessions as to bring myself a bit closer to Lydiard’s original concept and secondly, my aerobic base seems somewhat eroded, meaning my weakest muscle fibres don’t contribute as much as they should causing HR to rise quicker than desirable. Emma taught me the way to combat this which is basically to ensure that sufficient work is done in what she termed the AT1 (Aerobic Threshold 1) zone where the weakest (but most energy-efficient) muscle fibres can still come out and play and thus strengthen enough to be relevant some day when called upon in a race (if not trained they are largely useless).

But boy am I glad the week is over, it certainly felt like hard work in every sense of the word but was not without it's pleasurable moment so here's hoping enthusiasm will flow back as the body regains fitness.