So here’s the training blog I promised you. How does one train for one of the most notorious physical challenges known to man? I have a feeling this blog could go on a while…
Before I do rant about my passion for exercise, and the mini-Everest I’ve climbed in the past 12 months with my injury battle, this week’s shout-out from Twitter goes to Katie Godwin! If you’d like a shout-out, you’ll have to follow me at @alex_staniforth and make sure you’re on the ball.
So my training is going swimmingly, as I said in my last blog. I did a 30 mile bike ride today, visiting some of the rock climbing crags that I used to haunt but haven’t had the time to visit for a long time. I cycled to my grandparents house in Manchester on Monday, just short of 40 miles. Doesn’t seem like much for an upcoming Everest summiteer, but there’s a good reason for it. It’s a fair way on an old mountain bike, and there’s a fair bit of danger training associated with negotiating Manchester City Centre at rush hour. I couldn’t believe how strong I felt. Probably nothing to do with the Wiggo-wannabe Team Sky Jersey I was wearing. I’ll be buying a road bike sometime soon and I’m hoping to push 70-80 miles later on in the Summer before Baruntse.
I walked 21 miles on the Kentmere Round on Thursday. An awesome quiet walk with great scenery and 6 summits. I did it solo, and managed to leave my brand new compass in the car. I knew the forecast was great, so I decided it was safe to navigate using the map visually. It’s situations like this that force you to learn skills quickly. A blessing in disguise? As a rarity I had a whole day to myself to think and relax. I didn’t make one wrong turn with my route, and was down at the time I planned. I was rather chuffed with myself. It was then a mad dash to Windermere, in true Alex style, catching the final train home with 15 minutes to spare (just enough to visit Booths next door and fill up on chocolate and Hoisin Duck Wrap for the journey). I held a great pace all day without losing energy. Can’t wait for the next one. I can, however, wait for the 3 days of DOMS aching I had in my glutes after. That made me realise that I need more mountains in my training! But days like that, if not longer, are THE perfect training for expeditions. Pain is weakness leaving the body, right?
I also tried on some expedition boots. At £400 a pair they’re not your average Converse. Exciting stuff.
For weeks now I’ve really been able to build training up again. I’m mostly focusing on endurance, as much as I want to go back to the competitive 5k and 10k runner I was last year. I’ve started working with a strength and conditioning coach, working specifically on my back, but she’s really tested my pain barrier with a few deep tissue massages/solicited aggravated assaults on my IT Band, back and shin muscles which have been as stiff as a walking pole for a while to keep them supple as I build my training. She also works with Newcastle United FC and has worked with the likes of Steve Backley, so I’m in good hands, and painful ones, at the same time.
I’ve also been running a lot with my friend Jon who is an experienced runner, triathlete and Ultra-runner. I’m very grateful for his guidance both through my injury struggles and right now as I’m back to training again and progressing quickly. I’ve ran as far as 10k now, and though it’s nothing compared to the half marathons I used to do, it’s been a long time since I’ve ran that far due to an injury sidelining me for a year. It’s great to have someone to pull me along through the harder sessions, but also someone with patience and experience to supervise my training and progress whilst my body still hasn’t returned to it’s usual resilience and avoiding injury is absolutely paramount. It makes it much more fun to have a good training partner. Fun may not be the word to describe the first lightheaded-ness inducing interval session we did last week (but it was my first hard session in over a year), or the sub-12 hour midnight assault of the 36 mile Sandstone Trail we have planned- although that’s probably my fault for suggesting it…
It’s great to be training again but there’s an even bigger story for my next blog- it’s how I overcame an injury which sidelined my passion for a whole year. How I battled the unknown, the hardest battle I’ve ever fought, to get myself on track with getting fit for the top of the world. And I made it. I have 8 weeks to get as fit and strong as I can for Baruntse without risking injury. Hands down, I may not be as fit as I’d like for Baruntse, but I can make up for that with my mental determination, I know it. With luck, grit and support around me, I’ve already got this far, and it’ll take me right to the finish line.
Talking of the finish line, here’s some pics of me running around the Olympic stadium in the Anniversary run a few weeks ago with my friend Holly. It was an awesome nostalgic experience. And we met Paula Radcliffe and Victoria Pendleton afterwards, which really was the icing on the cake.
Keep tuned for Part 2!
”Many of life’s greatest failures, are people who gave up when they were so close to success”