Thursday, 7 January 2010


The mantra for last year was 'hard work'.

Stats for 2009:
Total time spent training: 1096hrs (3hrs per day)
Total ran: 3017 km (56 kpw). Average pace 6:13/k
Total biked: 11,716 km
Total xc-ski: 429 km

Observations and thoughts:
Overall I don't think I spent my time very efficiently. I did tear some huge chunks out of my PBs and I'm undeniably a lot fitter than I was at the start of the year, but the fact that my average pace was so slow (worse than when I started running) demonstrates unequivocally that I was valuing quantity over quality.

I basically had the mindset that anything that made me tired would make me fit. Stupid really looking back on it. The road to fitness is through supercompensation and the only way that happens if you allow yourself to recover. I didn't bother with such petty concerns and after pushing my limits one week, I just went on pushing further the next week, digging myself even further into a hole. Classic case of overtraining.

This year will be different. The mantra is 'smart training'. I'll monitor the way my body responds on a three day cycle. If I have shit/slow runs three days in a row, then it's time to back off until I feel good again. I'll also emphasise other aspects of recovery such as improving the quality of my sleep and nutrition.

I'm giving bi-phasic sleep a go. The idea is to break your sleep into two chunks per day. One long core sleep in the evening and one siesta style sleep in the afternoon/early evening. The main motivation for this is time saving - I'm hoping it will allow me to cut the amount of time I spend asleep to 6 hrs per day. I also think it will improve the quality of my sleep and increase my energy levels throughout the day. Over Christmas I took the opportunity to embark on many a nap, and felt so revitalised afterwards that I decided to do some research on the topic.

A lot of people follow such an approach both now (e.g. Scott bird ) and throughout history (e.g. Leonardo DiVinci and Thomas Edison). I'll post more on this as the experiment continues. Two days in and I'm not exactly finding myself super-energised all the time, but nor was I before I started, and I was expecting to encounter such problems for the first week or so until my body adapts.


In the past few months I've pinned down some food intolerances which were really affecting the quality of my life and I suspect also compromising my recovery from exercise. I already knew I was soy intolerant, but recently also I've become so sensitive to gluten that one piece of gluten free bread with vegemite (which contains small amounts of barley) made me very sick indeed. It's been a big change for someone who habitually consumed loaves of bread in one sitting, but I've discovered many new dishes that I'd never tried before (favourites include 'Socca' - a French peasant style chickpea bread - and Dosa - an Indian crepe like flat bread made from ground rice and lentils) and am now coping well.

Only yesterday I worked out that I don't tolerate fructose too well either. I think it's a universal problem for humans due to a relative paucity of fructose receptors in the gut, but to stay on the safe side, I'm eliminating apples and pears from my diet (I'd been eating up to 6 in one sitting and wondering why I was getting stomach aches:P).

I feel so much better on this new diet than I ever have probably in my whole life. I have more energy, I haven't gotten sick, I recover better. I'm not saying it's for everyone, but I really like the foods I'm eating right now (mainly Southern Indian dishes, but I'm trying to expand my repertoire to include cuisine from every culture around the world).

Preliminary results have been very positive:) I'm in such good shape right now. On Monday, I did a 28k long run with Matt Z and backed it up with a 12km hike back from Canberra airport with 10kg of luggage strapped to my body (didn't fancy paying $30 for a taxi:P). I expected to be completely devastated the next day, but the DOMS never came and my legs feel great.

The plan for the next month is to do around 100k per week. I'm doing doubles with an easy social run in the morning, and a harder solo 5k run in the evening. The volume is no longer an issue - I averaged 90ish km in December 09 - so I'm concentrating more on upping the intensity before I bump up the mileage some more.

My knee is getting better, though it's still not 100%. I don't feel it on most of my runs, but I haven't been game enough to test it out cycling yet. I probably should soon before I lose all of my bike fitness!

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