Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Recovery and Atacama thoughts

It was my scheduled recovery week just gone. So, on Tuesday and Wednesday I enjoyed a couple of easy pace 5 mile runs to and from work. I went to the gym on Thursday, but just did my strength and stability work and not the 3 mile speed run, because I had forgotten I had arranged to go out running with some friends a little further than I had anticipated on the Saturday. However, my friends had to cancel due to illness so I just did a 10 mile trail run locally, at a good solid pace. I had also arranged a run out in the Peak District on Sunday but very heavy rain and low visibility meant me and another friend decided to defer it to next weekend.
So, I am feeling quite refreshed and looking forward to this weeks training which sees the next increase in distances. I will be doing an 8 mile run from work on Tuesday at pace, and a return 8 mile run into work 12 hours later at an easy pace with a backpack. Thursday I’ll be back doing my flat out 3 mile speed run and on Saturday I will be doing 14 miles, which will be my longest non-stop run for quite some time. I’m not counting the recent much longer events that I have done, as there is always some element of stop/start or change of pace. I’ve sent off entries for my next two events before Christmas, and I may still do an event on New Years day. It’s called the Hangover Hike, for obvious reasons, though not having drunk alcohol for 10 years I don’t expect to be suffering from a hangover!
I’ve still yet to decide which ultra to do at the end of January or beginning of February. I’m looking to do something like 40 or more miles, which will be that final confidence booster before the Atacama Crossing at the beginning of March 2010. That said I’m not greatly concerned about the long day distance of around 45 miles in the Atacama Crossing, which is usually stage 5. My opinion is that you have to focus your efforts for day 4, which has historically been the salt flats stage. No stage of the Atacama Crossing is easy. Each one is marathon distance, there is no short first day to ease you in either. You start above 3000M altitude on last year day 1 involved some all fours scrambling and more ascent than I expected. Day 2 involved a lot of water crossings, a big climb, ridge walk and huge dune descent, before a long section of flat and sometimes soft ground. Stage 3 had jagged uneven salt flats to start before a flat sand road section, a water section, then finally some ascent and dunes. Day 4 is the tough one; the infamous salt flats. Jagged coral-like terrain which tears up your shoes and gaiters, and a crust which you can break through up to your knees or more in the salty lake underneath. A friend Mark Cockbain who has done every major event that is out there said it was the toughest stage of any multi-stage event that he had ever done. If you make it through that, then stage 5 is realistically the last stage, as stage 6 is usually only a 10k run into San Pedro. So, after getting through 4 tough stages, your willpower alone should get you through stage 5. I am focussing one day at a time, but with my eye on arriving on the start line to stage 4 being as brand-new as I can be.

Have a good week!

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