Tag Archives: Training

No wonder I was tired! So let’s do that again!

In 2023 I finished another year of running 1000 miles... Because the relocation across the Pond and the concomitant travel shook up my schedule, and because of "stuff" that I can't remember now, my planning wasn't great and by the time October rolled around, I needed 27+ miles per week to stand a chance. So... apparently I did that. All I now remember is that it was a lot of miles run-walk, a lot of early mornings once I got my shiny chest light in particular, through wind and rain, catching little bugs in my Fetchpoint game Somehow I escaped injuries by sticking to snail-speed, but I did notice after consecutive days with 5 mile runs, it was getting a bit much.

But darn it, I did it. And I achieved my goal of running on average those 1000 miles faster than I did in 2022 (by 27' per mile, to be exact).

Colourful infographic from Fetcheveryone site, showing total number of miles and hours run, average page, number of days, heartbeat , etc broken down in multiple different ways.
I love all the detail you get from Fetch!

Obviously I decided to do it all again this year: another 1000 miles, if you please, my little legs? I'm adding in a bit more variation now I have a decent base: some intervals, tempo runs, and long slow runs without walk breaks. Or to be more accurate: replace "run" with "jog" because I'm still barely faster than a snail.

As of the start of May, I'm only a little bit behind on my target: instead of the weekly 19.2 miles, I need 19.9. Seems manageable for somebody who can churn out a few weeks at 27 miles, doesn't it? But that's not counting on a massive new change: I just started a full time job, and I've got a commute that requires bike+train three days a week. Planning is very tight if I want to reach 1000 miles with multiple shorter runs through the week. I still have 4 days without commute, to run on average about 5 miles each time. If you're speedier than me, you can fit that in before working from home, but for me it's a 3-miler on those days, and the rest I grab during the weekend. Or on one of the many bank holidays that grace my first month of work!

So we'll see if I can stay on target this year. At the moment I see very little opportunity to slack off, let alone fall ill or get injured. This will be another interesting year of "will she, or won't she?", but it won't be for lack of trying!

Early morning runs have their charm -meadows and trees in the mist in Mespelare.

They’re at it. Again | Daar zijn ze weer…

On the right side list of widgets of the blog you'll notice a countdown timer has appeared. Four months from now, my friend Stickless and I will be running the Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon again! We did it last year and we're crazy enough to do it again this year. Crazy, not stupid, so we're in training.

Road running is quite a different game, but it does not hurt to build up endurance and some speed or strength that way. My plan this time round is to focus more on the "double long" sessions: two days back to back of longer runs, building up during the training block. That means this week 7 miles on Saturday, and 6 on Sunday.

There will of course be the required "running with pack, full weight", "stairs" or if I can get to them "hills". Cross training, in particular swimming and some strength training for upper and lower body will help to keep me injury free, so that may be a smarter move than cramming more miles into my weekly schedule. I'm ready!

Aan de rechterkant van mijn blog vind je nu een datum, en een tellertje (een "afteller" is geen woord, maar kom). Over vier maanden zijn Stickless en ik weer op pad in de Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon! We haalden de eindstreep vorig jaar, en we zijn gek genoeg om het dit jaar opnieuw te proberen. Gek, maar niet dom, dus zijn we aan het trainen.

Hardlopen op de weg is een heel ander beestje dan dit soort wedstrijden, maar wel nuttig om uithoudingsvermogen, snelheid en kracht op te bouwen. De focus van mijn trainingsplan heb ik dit keer meer gelegd op de "dubbele lange" loop: twee dagen na elkaar met langere afstanden, die geleidelijk aan opbouwen. Dit weekend betekent dat 7 mijl (11km) op zaterdag en 6 mijl (net geen 10km) op zondag.

En dan moet je in het schema ook nog de vereiste "loop met rugzak, vol gewicht", "trappen" of beter nog "heuvels" bijvoegen. Zwemmen en krachttraining voor de armpjes en beentjes zullen me hopelijk blessure-vrij houden, en dat is dan misschien een betere tijdsbesteding dan zoeken naar tijd om meer kilometers in mijn schema te wringen. Ik heb er zin in!

The last of the stairs

Friday afternoon. I close the door behind me as I head out for my training and suddenly realise: That was the last time I left the house with three liters of water and five kilos of rice in the pack. The packs of rice stacks easily, the water can be poured away if it all gets too heavy. That was the last time I headed out to the stairs. The stairs...



(LUMC car park seen from Leiden-Centraal railway station)

These are the only stairs that matter to me right now. I am at the parking of the LUMC. I eye up the first two flights. I will go all the way to level 13 (104 steps), fifteen times in total (1300+ steps). That is the plan. I did it last week, and nearly bailed out at the thirteenth ascent, but resumed after a short break. I hope today will be easier. I don't have any reason to assume so. Earlier I felt so tired in the office that the bed was a much more inviting option than the stairs. But I cannot let my team mate down, and the moral obligation to be the other half of a well-trained team is why I am here at the bottom of the stairs, convincing myself that I need to get up there, and that this will make all the difference when we're climbing the hills in the Lake District.

By now I should now every inch of every step. Over the past months I spent most Friday afternoons walking up and down these steps, at first just with a water bottle for hydration, later with a pack and gradually increasing the weight from four to five to finally eight or nine kilos. I should know that there is chewing gum on the third step on the way to level 3, and that a tiny piece has been chipped off on the second step on the way down from level 2. I should know these things, but I don't. The grey staircase is brightened only slightly by the colourful doors of the lifts. Only about a month ago I finally figured out the correct sequence of colours: yellow, orange, red, pink, blue, green, white, black. Oblivious to my surroundings I start the climb, one step at a time. Two times to the top, then will follow three ascents going two steps at a time. That is one "set", I will repeat this two more times. I have worked it all out in my head.



(You can just about make out the colours on the doors of the lifts in this picture)

People don't take much notice, most of the time. Only the ones who stand in the staircase talking to their friends long enough to see me go past at least twice turn their head to have a better look. "Didn't she just go down a minute ago?" About once per month somebody will ask: "You're just going up and down? Why?" I will explain that this is the only way to train for hills, let alone a mountain marathon, if you live in pan-cake flat Holland. And I invite them to join me the next week, as I can be found here most Fridays at 4pm.

The only one who ever did come along was Christa. At the Wednesday knit night she once mentioned something about "needing to do some exercise".  "Oh well," I quipped, "why not join me for stairs? I have just found the perfect place for some training." A pact was made then and there: next Friday, 4pm, LUMC car park. And she showed up, week after week on Fridays at 4pm. We each went at our own speed, but every now and then we'd wait for each other at the top, catching our breath and exchanging observations about our efforts. "Calves really hurt today"; "Better than last week"; "Remember the first time? We never thought we'd make it more than twice to the top!" Consistency paid off, and having company made it much easier to show up. Today I am alone, but the pressure of the race is close enough to keep me going.

After reaching the top of the staircase for the sixth time today, I take a short break. A sip of water, a pat on the back. It's quiet up here. If I had the phone number of Netty with me, another friend from Wednesday knit-nights, I could ring her, and tell her to look through the back window of her house, so she could see me waving at her. We had been joking about that, almost every week. From the edge of the car park's top level you can just see the back of her house. I pick up the pack, and tell myself I am one third of the way through. It feels easier than last week. But it always feels easier when you're not yet halfway through.

Two steps at a time taxes the quads and the breathing. One step at a time kills the calves and the hamstrings. The hospital staff who finish at 5pm are now coming to the car park, more people wondering why I have a face like a tomato, and don't take the lift instead. How quickly will you get to A&E if anything goes wrong here, I wonder? I look where I put my feet, last thing I need is to fall down the hard concrete steps and get an answer to that question. I look up at the top of this flight. Level 6. I had hoped to see level 8. I soldier on and tell myself I can have a break at the top.

By the penultimate descent, the "down hill" bit is no longer the rest break I thought it was: it doesn't last long enough and my muscles are tiring. This time when I get to the bottom there is nobody there. Nobody to think I must be funny in the head, when I come down the stairs, click the "lap" button on my watch (3'07", could be worse, but slowing down), turn around and head up there again. After the fifteenth descent, I leave the car park without looking back, and the staircase is empty again.

More views on stairs training ? Go here!