July 2, 2013
It was a pretty intense week of training this past week. Last Sunday (June 23rd) involved a nasty 8-mile, up-and-down hill sprint session at Garbage Dump Hill (aka “Westview Park”). And when I say nasty, I mean nasty….heavy wind, heavy cloudbursts, and thunder and lightning. Up hill, against the wind, with a 30-lb pack on…always a joy.
Session stats: Distance: 12.97 kms; Duration: 1 hr, 30 mins, 12 sec; Elevation gain: 2003 feet; Pack weight: 25-30 lbs; kCal burn: 1121 cal.
The purpose for this session was to keep my legs (more-or-less) ready for the big climb up Mount Hamel at the Canadian Death Race (CDR). It was also to do some breathing training. Although oxygen becomes thinner at higher altitudes, my understanding is that for anything less than 8,000 feet oxygen deprivation is almost negligible. So that won’t be a problem. However, pulmonary resistance (i.e., how difficult it is to breath) is still a factor. Because the CDR will take me up to around 7000 feet, I’ve been making a point to better train my ability to psychologically tolerate the sensation of pulmonary resistance. That basically means for small periods of time during intense cardio sessions, I’ve been inhaling to maximum lung capacity, and holding it for a split second, in order to prepare for the slight increase in pulmonary exertion that I’ll be dealing with at the CRD. Not only does this technique maximize the amount of oxygen I’m taking in, but it also helps me to habituate to the physical sensation of hitting the “ceiling” (i.e., when the lungs reach full capacity) during inhalation. It’s not ideal, but it’s the best I can do to prepare for this problem considering I don’t have access to higher altitudes at which to train.
The remainder of my training last week was spent at Sport Manitoba. This consisted of lower body resistance training (e.g., squats, lunges, core routine) and pushing some long hours on the spin bike. My modified spin program, I think, is going to make or break me in the CDR. It’s been a big part of my cardio training and since I tweaked my shoulder and haven’t been swimming for the past month, it’s the only thing I’ve got in the way of intensive, low-impact cardio. When I’m off the seat and the pedal resistance is cranked up, it also somewhat simulates hill climbing. Yes, this is what mountain training sometimes looks like in the prairies: a guy on a spin bike.
Finally, this past Sunday’s (June 30th) training session at West Hawk Lake was, well, interesting. I knew it was going to be a scorcher so I carefully planned my fluid intake. As usual, I filled my hydration pack with water and tossed two bottles of electrolyte mix (two different concentrations) in the main pouch. When trail running over 30 kms at 30 degrees Celsius, every drop counts and when I discovered a leak in my hydration pouch three miles in, I knew things were going to get tricky. Surprisingly, by calibrating my exertion level to about 70% of what is normal for me (which is what I should be doing in preparation for the Canadian Death Race anyway) I was able to fend off dehydration for the full 33km run. Although I could feel my calves wanting to cramp toward the end, I’m blaming my burst hydration pack for that. Here are the final stats:
Session stats: Distance: 32.99 kms; Duration: 5:18:15; Elevation gain: 5498 feet; Avg Pace: 9:39 mins/km; Pack weight: 25-30 lbs; kCal burn: 2429 cals.
For anyone interested in, over the past few months, I’ve also been testing some new fuels. In addition to BSN Syntha-6 recovery powder (get the strawberry flavour…just trust me on this), here’s are a few of my fave products:
Gu Roctane ultra endurance energy gel. Compared to regular Gu, it has 3 times more Branched Chain Amino Acids, 10 times more Histidine, 2-3 times more electrolytes, and added Ornithine Alpha-Ketaglutarate. I think you all know what that means…??!!!
In my opinion, Island Nectars is the best flavour and it’s caffeine free which is good for long runs when you don’t want the runs. Cherry Lime has a bit of caffeine and Vanilla Orange is supercharged with x2 caffeine for the end of the session when you need that little perk.
Vega has a huge line of all-natural products and they’re great for getting a nice clean burn. However, the taste of some of these is often way too sweet for me (I think they use stevia as a sweetener…*wretch*) and I can only handle so much of it before I want to stop ingesting it. So that’s not good for longer training sessions.
NUUN produces the best electrolyte mix I’ve ever come across. All the flavours are good, they’re not too sweet, and they’re soft on the stomach (unlike Gatorade…does anybody actually still drink that crap?). You can actually feel this stuff working its magic. NUUN has my vote for best electrolyte mix by a long shot. The downside? At around $8 per cylinder, it’s not the cheapest stuff out there…but it’s worth it.
I had to throw these in even though they’re not fuel related. These are basically the greatest trail runners I’ve ever worn (and I’ve tried many). ASICS Gel Fuji Racers. Made with durable, lightweight mesh and built-in drainage holes in the soles, these ensure you’ll have dry feet within a couple of minutes after running through a creek. No joke, within 20 steps, the shoe is 98% clear of water and it’s on its way to dry-dom. And the grip on trails is great. Some punk stole my first pair out of my car a while back, but I bought a second pair right after. 100% worth it.
Until next time, get out there and have fun!