Thursday, October 19, 2017

A (very different) start to a new season

After 2016, where I tackled new challenges and learned a lot but fell short, 2017 has been highly satisfying. Two successfull finishes at two tough races, both actually surpassing my previous longest distance of 168km (though that was in the sand and desert, and longer time-wise at 42h...), not to mention a whole new experience with the 12h timed race in Villeneuve: I am very happy camper.
So now after a month's R&R, a new season starts as I look to 2018. Again, I would like slightly different challenges, which I need to work around a big family holidy planned for August. So I've split the year in two:
  1. Jan-June: build on all the work I did this year in road running to try and a) set a real PB in marathon, ultimately at BQ time, which would mean 3h25 (or 3h20 to be sure of a spot); and b) aim for a best time at the 100km Bienne early June (60th anniversary!) - again, seeing  how close I can get to a Spartathlon-qualifing time of 10h... Spartathlon is like my Holy Grail: perhaps inaccessible, but just the quest to qualify takes me down fascinating roads...
  2. After June: back to the mountains after 18 months, definitely with the LG Trail (Lausanne-Geneva via the Jura mountains) which I plan on running with my good friend Cyril; and possibly end August the Échappée Belle, a 144km trail with 11,000 meters of elevation. It takes place outside Grenoble in the wild Belledone mountain range which I didn't get to see on my aborted UT4M attempt in 2014. If I finish, it will not only be my longest trail run but also, because of the elevation and highly technical nature of the race (some parts are not just off-road but even "off-trail"!), could be my longest race time-wise to date - currently 45h47mn at the Swiss Irontrail. Though I'm not hell-bent on extending race time into a second sleepless night...
What I think will be interesting will be to see how speedwork for a road ultra will translate into better fitness and time on a trail run. Because that will be my focus for next year.
However, current plans to return to running end October and start on an 8-week "speed increase" plan have been totally derailed since learning that the pain in my right foot, which I had put down to plantar fasciitis, is actually a stress fracture! Which explains why it appeared only a few weeks after the GUCR when I started running again, and again after the UTL (though how a stress fracture didn't bother me during the UTL is beyond my comprehension - but I'll take it! Just happy I didn't go to the doc's before the race, because no way would have tackled 110 miles knowing I had a stress fracture. Apparently "fracture" is a misnomer, it's some form of inflammation in the bone, but still - there word is there...)
I guess the good new is, from what I've read, is that a "fracture", once healed, is good to go, whereas plantar fasciitis can be a real pain for a long time.
So I'm being quite zen about it. I've signed up to a gym that's 30 seconds from work, and I'm planning on doing quite a bit of high-intensity stationary biking and strength training. The key is mainly not to lose the habit of exercising. But I think this could be a good thing and ultimately make me a stronger runner; certainly I'd like to think that several weeks of strength training (which I've always wanted to do), which I'll keep doing when I slowly ease back into running (hopefully in December), will help prevent injuries next year. And finally, it'll be a good mental break, and I'm sure I'll return to running with renewed hunger and energy.
So that's the start to the new season: biking and strength training, ease back into running in December, and in January do my planned 8-week speed-training program...

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