Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pounding pavement

The first cumulus clouds of the season, the first sign of instability in the atmosphere, have appeared over the last few days. The first tentative XC flights of the season have been made, and soon the paragliding season will begin in earnest. For the closing moments of the ski season (for me) I'm doing my last ski tours and have increased my running distance during the week before paragliding takes priority every weekend.

I've chosen to focus on four types of workouts, plugged into my MP3 player to give me the right rhythm:

Regular runs are steady runs at a comfortable pace. They're a way of getting the miles in to the legs in a limited time. My music of choice is Annie Mac's Mashup and I aim to run for about 60-70 minutes and cover 15-17km.

Tempo runs start with a good warm-up, 20 minutes at a gentle pace, followed by 30 minutes "comfortable but hard". The goal here is to spend time running close to your lactate threshold, it basically gets you used to running at race pace while tired. This is followed by a 10-15 minute warm-down and the soundtrack is provided by Judge Jules spinning big room club tunes.

Long runs are a reasonable distance run at a slower pace. I try to limit these to 25-30km at about 14km/h. Many runners believe that these, in combination with tempo runs, are the key to preparing for long distance races. However, if you run much further than 30km without consuming food and/or an energy drink you tend to exhaust your body's energy supply and hit the infamous "wall". This is painful, but more seriously it takes a long time to recover afterwards so you compromise the following training sessions. The only music to listen to during long runs is Kutski playing hard dance and hardcore, a "runner's high" is guaranteed.

Recovery runs are shorter runs at a very easy pace. Generally I aim to do 11-13km at an average speed of 12-13km/h. You don't really even break a sweat doing these but they have the beneficial effect of clearing your muscles and are best done the day after a hard run. I tend to do these with my running partner from work, Nicolas Morisset.

Race sponsors Suunto have sponsored four competitors with a Suunto T6C watch and a customised training programme. You can follow their training on the Suunto at X-Alps blog.