Trail de la Pierre A Voir

In the last five weeks I've made some great progress on my climbing with some solid weeks of training and a good race at MaXi Race. After a good week with a long run on Thursday, I wanted to run a different route and I decided to use a race to ensure that I would complete a good effort on tired legs.

I found the Trail de la Pierre A Voir after looking for new climbs and routes around Martigny for training. The timing of the race was perfect and the race was just what I was looking for: 33km with 2200m of climbing and close to home. There is also a character to Swiss races that I love so this was definitely a great goal for the weekend.

I had a fantastic time in the race and achieved my objective of completing a good outing with lots of climbing. However, I felt quite tired and my legs were heavy from the last few weeks' training. It was good to train in a state similar to the final part of a long race, but it also reminded me of how tough that is!

Overall I had a great experience and I'll be going back to do this race again in the future.

MaXi Race XL

The MaXi Race in Annecy has multiple different options for runners. There is a 110km race, an 83km race, a 110km race over two days, an 83km race over two days, a marathon, a 15km race and even a kids' event. There were a lot of trail runners who raced and an amazing race village was set up on the edge of Lake Annecy where the start and finish took place. I ran in the XL race which was the 83km race split into two days with 42km on Saturday and 41km on Sunday.

Day 1

My goal for the first day was to run conservatively, to run my own race and to enjoy a mountain race. I haven't had such a great start to this season so I wanted to be relaxed and to do everything right in this race. There was lots of climbing and I know I still need time to put in enough vertical in training, but this was a good chance to do some varied climbing in the Alps.

The first climb to Semnoz was long and all runnable. I kept a good pace and was very happy with my climbing. From there I ran a great descent passing lots of people (who were a mix of competitors from all the races taking place at the same time) and worked hard to arrive at the base of the next climb. On the second significant climb I used my poles and tried to set up a good rhythm climbing. I wasn't moving very fast, but I was making progress and feeling good. I ran well on the final descent for the day and kept a moderate pace to the finish although I was starting to feel the heat and the miles by then.

It was a good first day and I came away feeling a lot of confidence and happiness that the work I've been doing in the mountains was starting to pay off. If the race had ended here I would have been happy with my performance.

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Day 2

Waking up on Sunday morning wasn't easy. In an unpleasant reminder of stage racing my legs were protesting and feeling very tight and sore. I wasn't sure what I would be able to achieve in the second half of the race, but I also knew that I'd run multiple days in a row in the past and managed to keep going. I did a good warm-up, loosened up a little and felt more relaxed by the time I was on the start line.

The first climb of the day was steep and technical. I set a good rhythm and felt surprisingly good despite how my legs had felt just a few hours earlier. I noticed I was moving about the same pace as the people around me until the last 10 minutes of the climb where I seemed to move more efficiently and keep a good pace to pass a few runners. On the long descent I was feeling fantastic! I ran smoothly and overtook at least five or six runners. On the bumpy and hilly section to the half-way point I kept a solid pace and felt positive about running a good stage.

The last climb was sustained and it felt much hotter and more difficult than I expected. I was going really slowly, but only one person caught up to me and in reality he seemed to be keeping a similar pace to me. Over the top of Veyrier I was hot, thirsty and crawling along. Fortunately I was able to run a great descent to the finish surprising myself with a great pace all the way down the technical trail. I was pleased with the second day and the good sections (mostly descents) where I ran strongly and with a lot of motivation.

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Overall I was pleased with my performance at this race. I made a lot of progress in my training since Nivolet-Revard and my climbing and descending was a huge step up from that effort. I hope I can maintain this work and focus in the upcoming weeks before Eiger Ultra Trail.

May training update

After three races this season (Cabornis, Reculées, Nivolet-Revard), I knew that I needed to work on a number of areas to be ready for my focus races. I struggled with the climbing at Nivolet-Revard and my endurance for longer races was not good enough. May was the month to put in the work to start fixing these issues with an aggressive and focused approach.

Focus for May
  • climbing, descending and total vertical gain per week
  • back-to-back sessions to build on endurance and prepare for MaXi Race XL

Training statistics
  • Time: 66hrs 34min
  • Distance: 492km
  • Vertical gain: 26,269m

Training log

Green bubbles = normal training
Yellow bubbles = workout
Red bubbles = race (in this case MaXi Race XL)
XT = cross training

Review of the month
I started off with two and a half really solid weeks and by the third weekend I needed to rest and recover. After an easy weekend, I did a hard effort with climbing and then raced MaXi Race XL the following weekend where I was happy with my result. Overall it was a good month with good climbing volumes and four back-to-back sessions. I made a definite step-up in my vertical training and I'm glad I managed to hold off pushing too much when I felt the fatigue accumulating at the end of the third week. I think I did the best month of training that I was capable of for May. I need to build another one on top of that in June!