Monday, 8 September 2014

In the Heat of the Moment

Those who know me well will know that I’ve enjoyed competing in the World and European Masters Champs, since I turned 41. I can’t say that I’ve been overly successful, though I’m proud of the two bronze medals I’ve achieved, both of which I felt were good performances. However competing abroad can be costly; both financially and in terms of time that could otherwise be spent with loved ones. Two years ago I was due to compete in Poland, though the European championships were split between Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic, however, as with all the outdoor t&f championships I’ve competed in, with the exception of Ljubljana, the distance runners compete some distance away from the main event. On that occasion I was injured just before the championship and was unable to take part in one of my events and could only run the other one at 70% effort, it was a costly way to run below par, so since then I’ve kept my money in my pocket, my form hasn’t justified my attendance, much as I’ve had the desire to go.

This year the European Championships were held in Turkey, a country I’ve been to many times and used as a hot weather training base before I competed in Hungary, four years ago. But I didn’t enter, I’m not running well enough this year and I’m not one to make up numbers, I want to be competing for the medals, and I genuinely believe that if I can get some solid training behind me I could do that again, in the future.

However, August being the height of holiday season meant many of my clients have been away enjoying themselves, giving me some free time. A perfect time to take Carole away on holiday. Of course, as you can imagine, she might but I don’t, I use it as an opportunity to be more focused in my training. So two weeks ago we hopped onto a flight to Spain, the scene of much of my warmer weather training. The place we go to, the Costa Colida, has some great beaches, but more importantly, for me, the venue I stay at suits my training – large open road areas and one or two steep hills.
After training it's nice to walk up a long steep hill to find the castle is closed.

I’ve never had a problem with heat, I’ve competed in high temperatures and high humidity and enjoy the challenge. The only time I encountered difficulty was after the European Masters 10000m in Hungary, I was fine during the race, though a little unsure of how many laps I’d done which accounts for the 10400m I ran that day, but after I’d sat down I was unable to get up again for about 20 minutes and it was a good few minutes before I could actually swallow any water. Generally I just need a day or so to acclimatise and I’m able to train hard, once I went to Spain and the first days training consisted of 10 x 30 sec reps, because that was all I could manage, yet two days later I was back to normal training.

On this occasion it was hot but didn’t feel too hot so I had set myself tougher than usual targets, in my long term plan to get myself fit in time for turning 50. Having got up at 3am on the Saturday to travel and enjoying some of the local produce that evening, it was understandable that we overslept on the Sunday, but I was up and out running within 30 minutes. It was hot but not too bad so I decided to get straight into my hard reps, 1, 2 and 3 minute reps totalling up to 24 minutes of hard running in a 46 minute session. I felt good as I set off on my first 1 minute effort, the 2 minutes was a little tougher but the 3 minutes got a little extreme towards the end, still one set down and I had two more reps to do before facing that 3 minute one again. By the time I’d done 3 sets I was knackered, but I didn’t want to cut my session short, I was sure I could manage the fourth set, I did but that last 3 minute effort was so hard and when I stopped there was this huge surge of heat that passed through my body. I felt exhausted and shuffled the 8 minutes back to base, I must’ve looked like an old man I was going so slow. Once back home I drank a homemade isotonic pint and I was fine again. For the rest of the stay I was able to get up an hour earlier and, although still hot, I never felt as drained as that first session. I sweated a lot, particularly on the long runs around the golf course, which required a steady climb to the top of the village with a steady climb down to the golf course with a steeper hill back to the top of the village before a steady descent to base, but I drank a lot of fluids during the day so I never felt dehydrated.
I'm a great fan of David Bedford's training method.

My goal was achieved, I trained hard and even did some back to back training, though I hadn’t planned it this time. I’m back home now and I have to reacclimatise, my first session back, yesterday, wasn’t vintage Rog but I’m hoping I can now start to show some decent form in races, only time will tell.
It's something Mo Farah and myself share, tourists like to have their picture taken with us. Here I am promoting the 1998 Hillingdon 5 whilst visiting Guadalest. Incidentally in 1998 Belgrave won the team race; Kassa Tadesse, Alex Hutchinson, Kevin Nash and myself - we're still awaiting the prize.

Written by Roger Alsop

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