Monday, 6 January 2014

A change in plans. A few lessons learned.

At the end of last year I posted an update laying out some of the races that I had coming up at the start of 2014, with the main objective being the Sahara Race in Jordan at the end of February. I was excited about racing some single-stage races, building up towards a new goal and going to race in a new desert (with V joining me as a volunteer at the race).

I started on that road and ran well in my first race, the Vulcano Trail Ultra 30km (VUT). The plan was for me to run my first block the week after this race and that would be the beginning of a high volume and high intensity phase leading up the Sahara Race. The first day of my block went well and I felt good about where I was. Unfortunately the second day did not go well at all. I felt very sore and tired before I started and after two hours in the sun with a 7kg pack I was exhausted and had a strong pain in my quad that felt like it may become an injury. I walked out the rest of the planned time and spoke to Ian in the afternoon to get his input on what we should do. We adjusted my plan, cutting the block short and re-focusing on what I could do to move forward. I wasn't happy about the block, but I had faith in our new plan and what I had to do.

The following week I went out for a three-hour run with my pack. Again after two hours I was very fatigued and the pain in my quad had returned. I was extremely disappointed because in the time since my failed block I had done some high quality sessions and felt good. My result at VUT showed that I had the endurance and form to run long distances, my interval sessions showed I had the speed, but I seemed to be lacking the resilience that I need to train with a pack in preparation for a hard race. With the Sahara Race approaching quickly and my inability to train as I believe I need to, it was time to make a tough decision.

I race to get the best out of myself, to push myself to my limits, and because I love the process of preparing and racing. I don't believe that I would be aligned with those objectives if I continued to push towards a race that I had low confidence in being ready for and that my body was clearly telling me was not possible. Therefore, I have decided not to run the Sahara Race in 2014. I'm disappointed because I was looking forward to the race, to taking on a high level of competition, and to sharing a race experience with V as a volunteer. However, I do believe that it's the right decision for me and I'm looking forward to other races in the year ahead.

I learnt a few things during this episode that will help me in the future. The first is that I need considerable time to recover from multi-stage races. I always under-estimate the time it takes for me to recover and this is still happening after my third desert race. The second is that I need a consistent and thorough build-up to a race to ensure I have the confidence to perform at my best. Finally, I learnt that listening to my body is vital to ensure that I can train at the highest level and at the same time enjoy the hard work.

I'm still training with focus, albeit on a less demanding schedule and without a pack. This week V and I will be traveling to the south of Chile again and I'm excited about doing some great training on different trails with the goal of enjoying my running.

I'm looking forward to mountain runs in the south of Chile in January.


We'll be enjoying the trails and roads around Lago Llanquehue soon.

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