It's been a great few weeks on the Chamonix trails. Nikki is up and running again, Ali is back from her hols and we have been making new friends and dragging them out with us at weekends. Clearly the fact that they are way faster than us is totally unfair, but it's great to share the trails with them. The Chamonix Ladies Weekend Running Club is in full swing!
We have discovered the delights of an ice bath at the end of a run, thanks to new girl Meredith, using the freely available glacial river water of Chamonix. The rivers are pretty high and strong at the moment, so sitting in them isn't that advisable, but we have found access via the rather murky gravel yard near where I usually park up. It is painfully cold, as demonstrated here, so a few seconds is all that can be tolerated by most, but boy it feels amazing afterwards and definitely seems to aid recovery.
The storms of a few weeks ago are not yet forgotten and there are still loads of trees down, even on major paths. I'm not convinced they are going to manage to clear them all before the marathon which is only 4 weeks away. We ran up to 2000m today and there is still plenty of snow on the ski pistes too, which is not surprising after the winter we've just had.
I have been happy with progress on my long runs. I am only increasing by 2km or so per week, with 26km achieved today, but there is lots of ascent & descent involved and I have run up long, hilly trails that I had convinced myself were impossible previously. I wouldn't say it's easy, but have taken local advice and changed my technique to frequent smaller steps and am surprised how possible it actually is. I couldn't sustain that over marathon distance in the mountains, but hopefully it will improve power in my legs for stomping up those hills in a race. I have been trying to swim more, do core exercises to improve a weakness in my lower back and am now the owner of a shiny new road bike to extend my cross training and increase leg power.
Poor Leila dog has had to take a bit of a back seat since the vet diagnosed her with tendinitis in one of her legs. She is a very unhappy girl when I throw on the lycra but have to stop her from following me out of the house. Hopefully it's just a minor blip in her running career and I am shovelling anti-inflammatories, omega 3 fish oil and chicken-flavoured dog glucosamine down her in an attempt to get her back on the trails with me.
Another area of training has been in terms of food to eat on the go. Now this is something I have practised hard at! However last year, despite thoroughly testing snacks all summer, I ran the Trail des Aiguilles Rouges without hardly eating anything. Cereal bars became indigestible, too many gels disagreed with my stomach and the only thing that got me round were High 5 tabs in my Camelback. Luckily that race was only just an ultra (50km), but realistically I can't expect to do longer races without addressing the issue. Ali thinks Scott Jurek's natural, vegan ways are the way forward, and up until now I wasn't convinced. But recently I visited the local Asian supermarket and picked up dried bananas, salted banana chips, dates, nougat, sesame snaps & peanut cracknel at bargain prices. So far it seems to be working, particularly the dried bananas, and I am still liking Clif Shot Bloks for a quick gel fix and cake (of course!), so fingers crossed. The Chamonix marathon will be my first real test of the new approach. I bonked in that race last year too in the last 10km, but the scorching 32+ degrees had a lot to do with that.
I have to admit I have been experimenting with wine a bit of late too! But honestly, the older I get the more I hate hangovers, even little ones, as they just stop me from enjoying my precious weekends. So I am knocking that on the head as much as possible. I do love a drink, don't get me wrong, but I love my weekend runs even more.