TRAINING: The Seven Summits meets Camaderry

One of my favourite training runs when I was building the pre-base to the very successful 2012 season where I finally felt I began to run the sort of times my base speed justified, was a run dubbed ‘Six Summits and a Spink’ (sometimes expanded to Seven Summits!) -  a 23-24.5 km run (depending on specific route taken).

I found the route so useful I once did it three mornings in a row as an ‘aerobic crash-course’ inspired by Lydiard prescribing three ‘Waiataruas’ to a burned out Peter Snell.

Six Summits return to my schedule

The route was charted on the new EastWest maps when they first came out and I noticed that lots of ‘minor peaks’ had been assigned colourful names, thus the control points where:

  1. Derrybawn
  2. Cullentragh
  3. Braige Mountain
  4. Slayfann
  5. Mullacor
  6. Top of the Bounds
  7. Lugduff

First Test

As the Mourne SkyLine looms only 34 days away, today was the last chance for a real test of current affairs that would also leave me with a chance to do draw conclusions and take action. I knew that my aerobic system was at its lowest ebb since 2007 since I had to take a decision to be ‘coach first, athlete second’ after the reasonably successful Copenhagen marathon in 2012. But the question was ‘how low’. To ensure a challenging enough run I decided to add both Camaderry West and East top into the existing run and dispense with the rocky zig-zags into Glenealo.

<< The first, fresher, selfie on Derrybawn North

To work my endurance in the most effective way I set out to ensure average heart rate came in at what Phil Maffetone calls the Max Aerobic Function heart rate (144 in my case) and while I wasn’t sure of the exact distance of today’s run, I wanted to reach Camaderry in 3 hours and be home in less than 3 and a half hours and I managed to meet all those goals with some minutes to spare – the Camaderry version proved a bit shorter than I expected (22.5 km) but with more climb (1,100m – a third of the Mourne SkyLine tally).

The Looming Dark Mournes

Despite this – the pace was far from where it once was but I don’t panic – as Barry Murray mentioned in our joint talk in Great Outdoors on Monday, this type of training takes roughly 6 months to take root again and as I told Aoife ‘if they pull me out at the 11:15 cut-off at least you get to go home early’.  The main goal, naturally, is to get 6 months Lydiard-style conditioning ahead of a full return to racing in 2015.

So rather than fret over the Mourne SkyLine I am simply going to treat it as the ‘long run of the week’ and accept what comes. After all, I have done it before – when I plodded around the Lakeland 50 miler in a pair of sandals on what amounted to a four-month period of almost zero running. That was the day I understood that there IS such a thing as natural endurance – although the training would certainly have made for an easier day!

Quick fixes not my thing but…

I also have a few quick-fixes I can address: for starters my ‘battle weight’ is up from 66 to 72 at GOPR2408the moment, almost a full stone with my body fat having gone 6% to 11%. Knowing myself I can realistically shed 3-4 of those without harming myself in the month that is in it.

The second ‘selfie’, less fresh, midway up the south-side of Camaderry>>

I also tested out the exact gear I plan to use and ran on a fat/protein breakfast only (an omelette with bacon and parsley). If anything, I would have preferred the first hour on an empty stomach as it sat a bit heavy on the rough climb to Derrybawn. The rest of the gear worked out fine although a slightly smaller bag than my ‘50 miler’ would be ideal.

The scorching hot day didn’t manifest but it was warm enough and my skin was salty as usual by the time I pulled up on Kevin’s Way, threw off most (but not all!) of my clothing and jumped into the Glendasan River for a quick refresh before I could settle back with Aoife and our guest Sabrina for a nice lunch. A quick coffee and I was ready to sit down for more work – a call with Jason and Barry Murray to discuss our upcoming joint workshop – full details hopefully to follow next week.