Tuesday 3 February 2009

Atacama Crossing Training Plan

Now updated for the 2010 race, click here for a link to the spreadsheet. I've uploaded it to Beyond Marathon, the Ultra events website that I run.

Just six weeks until I fly to Chile to take part in the Atacama Crossing. You may or may not be aware that I have recently been diagnosed with torn cartilage (Meniscus) and Patellar Tendinosis of the left knee. I am due to have surgery when I get back from the event. I don't know if my knee will carry me through the event, or even through the training plan posted below, but all I can do is try. I am getting weekly physio on the knee to try and reduce to pain.

I have created a seven week plan which has a mixture of running and some walking too. I have taken out all but one speed session, and even that I may have to replace with an easy pace workout if my knee won't take it. Also, I may end up doing more walking than running sessions if I am struggling with the knee pain. I have two events planned; a 21 mile and 30 mile hill runs (or walks) in the next few weeks, shown in the plan.

You can find other training plans discussed, along with the world top Ultras at http://www.beyondmarathon.com

You can see the race stage lengths are included in the plan, as the race organiser has published them on the 4deserts website.

Stage 1 42km
Stage 2 42km
Stage 3 40km
Stage 4 43km
Stage 5 74km
Stage 6 10km

So every day is marathon distance, almost double marathon on stage 5, and a 10km spring to the finish on the last day. Additionally they posted a video showing a course flyover in Google Earth, which I have carefully transposed back into an actual Google Earth file. The course shown is just an approximation, but it does crucially give altitude details.

You can download and view the course in Google Earth, from this link.

It is the racing at altitude which makes this event particularly difficult. We are likely to experience 30% less oxygen between 3000 and 3500M, and 20% less for the rest of the course.

We start the race at 3000M, climb over 500M on stage 1, before dropping back to back at just under 3000M to camp. Then we lose overall altitude on day 2 and camp at 2300, camp at 2500M after stage 3, 2300M after stage 4, 2500M after stage 5, and it’s a 10km run on day 6 to end at 2400M in San Pedro de Atacama.

The course is punctuated with river and salt flat crossings, just to make things even more challenging. This will be my toughest challenge so far.

In other news this week, I have still not run a step at all. Today will be my first attempt to run in more than 3 weeks.

Last weekend I attended a Navigation course in the Brecon Beacons in Wales, run by member Tin Tin from the MDS forum.
I am so reliant on GPS than I really needed to learn how to use a map and compass properly.

I am pleased to say that I know can, thanks to Tin Tin's expert tuition. We had a power point presentation on Friday evening, then went out on the nearby fields and hills on Saturday morning to practice the theory. We learned to take bearings; estimate distance travelled using both time, and counting paces from analysing the map and contour lines. We had a couple of hours off and then went onto moorland at night to practice the skills. It was very cold, and very windy, but we all managed fine.
I am now feeling confident and will be navigating using only map and compass next weekend when I go to the Lake District for a couple of days walking.

Here are a few photo's I took at the weekend.

So, tonight I will try to run. Fingers crossed for me. Have a good week.

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