I’ve been spending the last few days working out some balance to my training for the year. The reason behind this is entering https://www.manaslutrailrace.org/ earlier this year. The basic stats around which are:
10 days for a total of 192km, 12,170m of ascent, 10,994m of descent. Working out at an average of 21k a day, with 1352m of climbing. This all heading from altitude of around 900m up to 5,160m. Half way through there is a children’s race all of the participants get to take part in. Needless to say the whole thing looks beautiful, awe-inspiring and deeply challenging. All happening in November.
Along the way I’ve also got the Snowdon Skyrace at the beginning of May and London Marathon in October. All of which are exciting and things to look forward to – but pose the question, how do I get from here, today to finishing a 10 day Nepalese mountain race.
I’ve been mulling this over and switching back and forth in my head as to how to structure my training, what do I need in my training, when to change different aspects. All of which I love, the challenge of piecing together a plan that I can then adapt and work with. I’ve been really curious about altitude and the impact on human physiology, which has led me back to re-reading the Oxygen Adventage trainers book. From this I decided to review all of the papers that Patrick had kindly made available to instructors on his website. One extract was really useful to study (From McArdle & Katch Exercise Physiology) which outlined the impacts as reduced blood plasma, increased hematocrit, heart rate increase, hyper ventilation to compensate for the reduced pressure of oxygen. Other valuable facts I learnt was the reduction in performance (at heights of around 4,300m) leading to times increasing by 30% or more – which for pacing is key. Carbs as fuel far better than anything with fat, carbs take less oxygen to burn than fat (or convert into energy) which with a reduced availability of oxygen this could be critical. Again really valuable knowledge in how to fuel and what to fuel with.
Another paper I read (I forget which now) was looking at the positive impact resonance breathing had on high altitude sickness and in more general terms the benefits of using resonant / coherent breathing at altitude to help regulate your body. Whilst pleasant at normal altitude, this something that could be absolutely critical post running in Nepal.
All of the re-reading of altitude studies then reminded me of a case study I have of a guy walking to Everest base camp, so I dug this out and can see the OA breathing protocols he used and the timescales attached to them – 12 weeks out being key to adding in some more taxing altitude breathwork practices.
Which brings me back to training. I’ve broken it down as a skeleton to build and work in:
- Running will be key, but how to balance? Recovery between hard sessions, no more than 2 a week.
- Work from the extremes and come to the centre – so weekly short speed (either up hills or flat) and tacked onto an easy run. Alongside which run long once a week, and hills critical in this.
- I know from the last year that I need to be strong, so weekly lifting of weights key(Jay Dicharry’s Running Rewired invaluable here).
- Carefully plan the load, as it changes and increases – Training for the Uphill Athlete by Steve House, Scott Johnston a really good starting point to work from.
- Variety in training – cycling, snowboarding & hiking
- Consistency. Doing all of above can only happen if I stay fit and healthy.
- Breathwork that allows my body to work effectively and efficiently. Cadence breathing to recover, nasal breathing on everything easy and breath holds to ramp things up for speed.
- How to measure all of above – this something that fascinates the geek in me. Whoop for physiology (I see this as an interesting tool in trends and watching that I stay healthy). I’m trying to get my head around whether it is worthwhile to invest in SuperSapiens constant glucose monitors for a short period of time, to ascertain my fuelling needs as my training ramps up. Alongside which I’m also giving blood tests from Forth Edge the same consideration. What is my starting point, how am I shifting after 3 months and again at 6? I’m equally curious about lactate thresholds and how I can utilise this info for training. The challenge here is getting a fixed point in a lab, vs recognising what this LT feels like in threshold runs and how to dial that feeling in and respond if the LT changes as the training changes.
- Rest / recovery – sleep, massage, massage guns, Powerdot, Therabody legs unit. All of which I am finding have a place.
- When to switch training for marathon specific work and how much marathon specific work?
All of which are things I love and utterly fascinated by the process. I’m ken to record and share everything that I do here, what worked for me and what didn’t. How responded to various protocols and what I can then use and integrate into my own teaching / coaching. One learning I have recently made is the key impact a short walk, pre-running has for me, on my heart rate. I’ve discovered that by walking for 4-5 minutes before I start my run, my heart rate throughout an easy run will stay anywhere from 15 – 8 BPM lower. Which over the course of an hour is significant. So this something that is here to stay for me on all my runs.