For the last seven or eight years my wife and I have gone to the Peak District in April for a week or two. She calls it a holiday and helps our friends out during lambing on their farm. . . I call it Boot Camp! I thought i would keep a training diary of my sessions to give an insight into what an intensive week of training, recovery and rest consists of for me in the build up to the British Paratriathlon Championships this weekend at Holme Pierrepoint – Nottingham.
With limited training time normally, I have to be careful not to get carried away when I get the opportunity for some quality training. Also, coming from the flatlands of Norfolk it’s relatively gruelling terrain in the Peak District, especially as every ride or run finishes with a 2 mile climb back to the farm!
Due to my sight being relatively poor (less than 10%), I am lucky that I can still run and cycle independently. However I have to be quite careful when running on uneven trails and when descending on the bike, so average speeds can be low for the amount of time and effort invested. It’s really the uphill training I come to Derbyshire for.
Day 1 – I always get a little carried away on my first day in the Peak district and this year was no different! A 3 hour bike ride using a small circuit near Whaley Bridge including the 2 mile climb of Eccles Pike or ‘Pointed Hill’ was a good, if pretty tough start. The loop includes some ‘flat’ sections, tiny little single track roads with lots of gravel and potholes where I nearly came to grief at one stage and some shorter but very steep climbs to soften the legs up. I did 4 laps of this circuit prompting a local cyclist to tell me I was ‘insane’. . . although the views from the top were pretty good, even with my poor sight!
After a few hours R & R I thought it would be a great idea to make the most of the sunshine as the weather can change quickly around that area and we don’t normally get too many days in April where it’s that warm. A 1 hour hilly on/off road run around Coombes seemed like a good idea with only the last hill back to farm proving a bit tough after the morning cycle.
Day 2 – Another long bike ride today, but this time taking in some of my favourite roads in this area. After descending from the farm in warm sunshine I took in the climb of long hill from Whaley Bridge to Buxton – a winding steady ascent of about 5 miles. From here I descended into the Goyt Valley at a relatively high speed for me (25MPH) before tackling the quiet but stunning road from the reservoir to the ranger station at the top before descending and then climbing the 7 mile long climb of the famous Cat and Fiddle from Macclesfield to Buxton. After doing a few laps from a small circuit it was time to head back into the Goyt Valley for a couple of stupidly steep and long climbs resulting in some grovelling in my smallest gear before a rapid decent back to Whaley bridge in the pouring rain and the final climb of the day back to the farm. Another 3 hour ride completed.
Day 3 – There are very few places that are flat in this area, but a run along the canal always provides some respite from the hills when needed. Today I completed a brisk 6km run in each direction to the local pool with a 2km swim in-between which eased a few aches! An easier day but still 2 hours of steady training completed.
Day 4 – A long trail run of 90 minutes around the farm and into coombs was the order of the day today with the weather again good and temperatures in the low 20’s. Some really rough terrain was covered with a couple of tough hills making the legs ache prompting a good stretching session afterwards.
Day 5 – An active recovery day in the form of a 1 hour swim session covering a total of 1.5km’s a steady pace. This really helped the aching calves ahead of what would prove a busy training weekend.
Day 6 – A rest day in my training programme, but it was still an active day taking the opportunity for a 5 mile walk.
Day 7 – Paratriathlon Camp – Today saw a change of environment with a trip to Loughborough to join up with the GE Great Britain Paratriathlon team. By the end of the morning we had completed a long swim session that included a good warm up, drills technique coaching, video analysis and several time trials/interval efforts. In total about 3.5km was covered followed by a quick bite of much needed lunch.
The afternoon saw us out on the track and after a brief warm up we were into a set of 15 X 400m efforts running at above our best 5km pace. By the end of the session the whole team looked pretty tired and I had hit a maximum heart rate of 201! This was followed by some indoor drills and technique work for another hour.
Day 8 – I thought I would be pretty tired today after the Paratriathlon day, but in fact woke up feeling great! Unbelievably the sun was still shining with temperatures reaching 26 degrees. I headed out for a ‘gentle’ ride and came back 3 hours later having got completely lost! I took in some big old hills again today but the toughest bit was staying upright on some of the roughest most gravely roads I have come across so average speeds were pretty low. Another good session and the climbing legs were starting to get used to all the ‘up’ bits.
Day 9 – Last year I did a long, long trail run around Fernilee Reservoir which was exhausting, but it was fun so I wanted to repeat it. On what was another hot day and armed with just a small bottle of Orbana I set off and completed what must be about 20km’s in 2 hours knocking 15 minutes of last year’s time. Brilliant. I actually felt pretty good when I finished which was surprising.
Day 10 – A bit tired from yesterday trail run, I took a steady cycle to the pool and back totalling 90 minutes but still including a couple of climbs of about two miles each. The swim session was 1 hour and 1.5km’s of drills and some timed efforts which weren’t too shabby considering how tired I felt.
Day 11 – Another longish trail run today again in hot conditions. After initially feeling heavy legged, things picked up quickly as I got into my stride. A 90 minute run sufficed for today and despite my reputation for getting lost I managed to navigate my way across several fields to find my way back to farm for a well deserved hot chocolate!
Day 12 – Game Over
‘OK I give up, I am tired now’ is how my body is starting to feel. A slow bike to and from the pool with a lethargic swim in the middle signals that it’s probably time for a rest after a good block of training. Another 2 hours steady work done though.
Well, recover and I need to begin to do some speed work after this big endurances block with some local races to warm up for the British Paratriathlon National Championships on May 14th ahead of the rest of the season.