My 2016 list of adventures seemed rather short, and yet I know that I spent a good amount of time playing outdoors this year. So I decided to look back over my training stats to see where all that time went.
In 2016, I went for 99 runs (average distance of 7.2 km and an average duration of 1.1 hours), 36 hikes (average distance 9.4 km and an average duration of 3 hours) and 5 ski tours (average distance 9.1 km and an average duration of 2.4 hours). Adding it all up, my feet carried me over 1000 km!
I also spent 78 days climbing, supplemented with 20 workouts. When I started climbing last February, I could top-rope about 5.8/5.9 in the gym, and could only do maybe 3 or 4 climbs before I pumped out. Since then I’ve learned to lead climb outdoors (so far, 5.7 is my hardest) and I can top-rope a clean 5.10 in the gym 🙂
2016 was the year of learning to rock climb. But learning new skills takes time, so I didn’t make it all the way through my 2016 list of adventures (full disclosure: I don’t think that would have been possible, anyways). I didn’t race as much, or as far, as I’d originally planned (I even DNS’d Beacon Rock), but I did “run” the Juan de Fuca trail (It’s not really runnable). And I didn’t do nearly as much alpine hiking or scrambling as I had planned (somehow, all my friends who are into that kind of thing got injured).
Despite everything, I still managed to knock off a few adventures 😉
Hikes and Runs
Somehow I’ve agreed to go for a 27km ski tour on Boxing Day. It sounds lovely. Only problem is that the longer ski tour I’ve ever done was 5.5 km. Today. Eep!
If you’ve been following the news lately, you might have heard about snowmageddon hitting Vancouver. Feel free to laugh at us. I do. Every time the city shuts down with a few centimetres of snow. And although the driving sucked, being hit by two blizzards – with a third on it’s way – makes for some pretty awesome snow to play in!
Loki sure is loving it. As soon as the snow hit the ground, our usually focused dog turned into a puppy again!
Once mother nature was satisfied with the quantity of snow she dumped on us, she gifted us with a week of gorgeous (if cold) sunshine. Our first ski trip of the year was magical.
I feel like I’ve just launched into a training plan. Usually I agonize over all the details, trying to get it perfect (but never fully sticking to it). This time, my “get-strong” training phase just appeared out of nowhere. So I’m going to do one of the simplest training plans of my life.
For the next little while, I expect to strength train twice a week (or so) after each of my climbing workouts, so I’ll be able to jump right in to the body of the workout. I’m excited about doing some low-rep, low-volume training; the workout should just fly by!
I’ve picked four basic exercises (push, pull, hinge, squat). For each if these I’ll be doing no more than 10 reps total, broken into sets (i.e. 2×5, 3×3). And to save time, I’ll do it as a circuit.
At the end of the circuit I’ll add one set of 5 ab rollouts.
I’ll finish the workout with some finger strength. 3 positions, 3 sets, 5-10 sec each. My weakest hand positions are slopers, pinches and edges, so that’s where I’ll start.
I started working out (again, sort-of) somewhere around the end of September. Now that it’s November and I’ve finished my last race of the year I plan to hibernate from the rain (why play in the rain when you can play in the snow?) and focus on getting strong. As in lifting weights. Heavy weights. Here’s why:
The 1-5 Repetition Range:
1-5 reps builds strength. If you want to build relative strength (i.e. improve strength-to-weight ratio) the volume should be low (e.g. 2×5, 4×4, 3×3 or 5×2) and calorie level should be kept at maintenance. This repetition range can be used as part of functional hypertrophy (i.e. get bigger and way stronger) program if the volume is increased (e.g. 5×5, 6×4, 8×3) and the nutrition is tailored toward building muscle mass.
You know those days when just getting to the start line is an achievement? Today was one of those. I checked off most of the “what not to do’s” before a race: Stay up late – check. Sleep on a therm-a-rest on my friend’s floor – check. Skimp on breakfast – check.
But the day dawned dry and not too cold, and after a cup or two of coffee I was ready to go.
I can’t decide if the best part of the Phantom Run is the free socks (socks beat t-shirts, hands-down) or the finish line soup. Soup might officially be my new favourite way to refuel after a race. Or maybe just on a cold day. But either way it was hot, delicious and rehydrating all at the same time… Yum!
The race itself was, um, not my best. For the most part, the trails are totally runnable (with maybe a bit more practice running up hills) – lots of gravel and wide dirt paths, not too many roots or rocks or stairs (but a few – this is North Van after all, and besides, I like it when things start to get a little more interesting). I might have to come back and run this again with a little more training, sleep and fuel in my belly!
By this time next week, I’ll be done running for the year. No more dragging my sorry ass out the door to run in the rain. Who am I kidding? I rarely dragged my sorry ass out the door to run in the rain. Instead I hibernated and hoped for a break in the weather. Good thing mother nature co-operated more often than not or I’d be totally unprepared for next weekend’s Phantom Run!
As it is, I’m less prepared than I would like to be. But I have learned a few things this fall:
- If I want to run trails, then I need to run trails. Taking advantage of the free entry to the Great Climate Race kicked my butt, but I don’t think it helped my preparation for Phantom. News flash: running on road when you’re not used to it hurts! I skipped my next workout to recover. Next time I’ll pass on the free entry and stick to the trails instead.
- Doing my physio exercises makes a difference. Scrolling back through some old posts, I shared a leg workout that I had planned to do. Yeah… I didn’t do it. But I did do the exercises my physiotherapist recommended pretty consistently. And I think it is making a difference. (I’m also doing pretty well on keeping up with my climbing prehab!)
- Hills are awesome! And no, I never think that while I’m running up them (usually I curse the hills). But I have definitely been running stronger since I decided to add more vertical into my training routine.
- Consistency matters. The more consistently I train the better I run. Surprised? Me neither.
- Intensity matter too. Again, not surprising. But this is the first time I’ve started really playing with any kind of intensity. I’ve pushed the vert, and added in a few fast finish runs and hill strides this fall and I’m already noticing the difference. I can’t wait to see the impact of incorporating them more regularly next year!
Fall training summary:
September: 10 runs, totalling 66km and 9.5 hours on my feet
October: 10 runs, totalling 68km and 10.8 hours (can you tell there was a little more vert?)
November: 4 runs so far, totalling 21km and 3.4 hours; By the time I’m done Phantom, I expect that I’ll have done 8 runs in November for a total of about 50km and 7.5 hours.
And with that, it’s time to drag my sorry ass out the door to go running in the rain. Ciao!
Today was a day of firsts:
- First time ever running the Great Climate Race
- First time ever running a road race (and maybe the last? I’m more sore from this than I’ve been from any run in the last 18 months – and that includes an ultra!)
- First time ever going all the way around the Seawall in Stanley Park (which is really kinda sad since it’s a beautiful walk and I’ve been in Vancouver for 6 years now)
- First time finishing a 10km in under 1 hour (58:45 woot, woot! Although admittedly that would be way more impressive if it involved a few hills, and roots, and rocks…)
- First time ever getting up and racing (hell, running) after a night out partying (lesson learned: halloween parties do not make for ideal pre-race preparation).
Despite a distinct lack of sleep and a sore foot, it turned out to be a pretty good race. The pain in my foot disappeared as my body warmed up, the day turned out to be warm and sunny, and I felt like I ran pretty strong the whole way. Yes, there definitely was room to push harder, but that’s probably a good thing since this was a random race that got added into my plans and not my goal race for the season. Going too hard today would mean too much recovery and too much time off from training for the Phantom Run. So fingers crossed that all that asphalt didn’t do me in today!
It felt way too early when the alarm clock went off at 6am on a Saturday morning. Getting up in the dark is not exactly my favourite way to start the day… But I’d made plans to meet my friend at the startling for MEC North Vancouver’s final (trail) race of the season: The Haunted Headwaters.
It was a dry, if chilly, morning as I drank my coffee and wrapped my brain around why I was getting up so early on a Saturday morning. The drive in was uneventful, save encountering a small pocket of intense rain. Thankfully it only lasted a couple of minutes, and the day became progressively nicer (it was even sunny by the end of the race!)
The race itself was pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. The wide gravel trails of the Lynn Headwaters connector trail and the Rice Lake loop provided a nice warmup and allowed the crowd to tin a bit before we plunged into the forest and started the first climb up some unnamed trail (it probably has a name, I just have no idea what that name is) before descending the Baden Powell Trail all the way to Lynn Creek, then climbing all the way back up to the Varley Trail for a nice cruise back to the finish.
We started off faster than typical, but that turned out to be ok. I was still able to push up (most of) the hills (although the stairs defeated me us… haven’t practiced running up stairs for a long time!), pick up some speed on the easier downhills (although again, the stairs slowed me down a bit), and have enough gas left in the tank for a solid finish.
Done. Satisfied. Counting down the days until the Great Climate Race next week! It’s going to be my first ever road race, so wish me luck!