Saturday, 2 May 2009

Day 5 - peak performance

Type - Gradient / hill run

Distance - 4 miles

Time - 41 minutes 41 seconds

Today I had lunch with Jarlath, marathon champion, fitness guru and a very handy friend to batter with training questions. We went to Wasabi and I had a steaming bucket of pork katsu curry and rice. I love katsu curry, and would normally have to stop myself from licking the last of the sauce from the box. But today was different, and it is not just pork katsu that is lying uneaten at the end of mealtimes. The first thing that went was a desire for snacks. I've always done a lot of exercise, and so it doesn't take much of a mental leap to understand that in order to keep and enhance my massive waist-line I eat a lot of rubbish. But perhaps now it is more correct to say I ate a lot of rubbish, because this week I've had no desire for the chocolate or sweet treat. Ultimately I would like to eliminate sugar from my diet, followed by caffeine. I've been drinking a lot of water. Real, pure and unadulterated water. Uncarbonated, uncoloured, decaffeinated and without artificial sweeteners or vegetable plant extracts. I've reduced Diet Coke intake to a single bottle in the morning. This is quite a reduction, as anyone who has seen my recent fizz-binges can attest.

So is running giving me a win-win weight loss double whammy? Is the loosening in my trousers a sign of things to come? Will I finally crack the weight gain that has bedevilled my late twenties?

I seriously hope so.

On to the training. This evening's run was based on a hill training programme on the treadmills at Clissold Leisure Centre. I had been running the same programme before embarking on proper training. I had managed 25 minutes on level 9, which means running between 10 km/h down to 7.5 km/h but with the gradient increasing every couple of minutes or so up to 7 degrees. This might not sound much, but it makes the running a proper slog. I decided to keep the programme on level 9, but to increase the length of the run to 35 minutes. This increased the intervals between gradient changes to 3 minutes, which gave 12 minutes of running at 6 degrees or above. It was tough going, with thick drips of sweat falling to the treadmill belt far below.

It felt good. It felt better than good. This was my most enjoyable training run so far, difficult but manageable, without the unnerving sense that I was pushing too far beyond my comfort zone and with less of the debilitating build up of lactic acid. It felt so good that I decided to go for a full four miles, and increased the programme length. After 40 minutes I did a sprint at 16 km/h for 1 minute 41 seconds to push me to 6.4 km. I walked home as the sun was sinking beneath the tree line, a red sky promising good weather for the next day, the clouds striped in glowing pink and peach hues and the spire of St. Mary's church burning gold. If summer is just round the corner, now is the best time to get properly fit!

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