Nobody Here Except For Us

Most of my posts recently have just been race reports and explanations of my training plan. All pretty dry topics. What gets left out are the little extras that go into the training. Here I try to cover a little of those extras. The result is a random mix of different things that haven't fitted into what has almost become a formula.

I've always enjoyed getting off the concrete and bitumen. It's one of the reasons I live where I do. Now having raced the Salomon Trail Run a few weeks ago, I have rediscovered just how great trail running is. I love getting onto the rough ground, with plenty of ups and down, rocks, mud, fallen trees and anything else nature likes to throw in. My attention is being drawn towards the ultra marathon trail runs around the country. It's been a long time since I have hit the bush for orienteering or a 24 hour rogain. My future racing is likely to have something different in it over the next few years.

Continuing on with the trail theme, the long run for the week took me out into the Plenty Gorge. It is an area I've only partially explored. Up until this run, I had only ever seen one other person on the trail. This time someone was calling for help. Two mountain bikers originally had the same idea as myself, however, one misjudged a corner and went sliding down the hill. The result was some skin loss, a bit of bruising and some pain on one arm, shoulder and torso. Nothing major, and nothing that looked like a broken bone. Yet he had decided he couldn't walk or ride as a result and needed someone to carry him out. This is a concept I struggled on. With about 3km of rough trails out to the nearest road and relatively minor (yes, painful) injuries, and the fact they had chosen to go mountain biking in the area without an exit plan I probably wasn't exactly the help he really liked. Eventually he came around to the idea his legs still worked and there was no reason an ambulance crew would see it as necessary to carry him. Half way out, he lost me after screaming about all the "blood" down his leg. No blood, just a carbohydrate gel that had leaked in the fall.

Correction, I Was Faster
Forgetting I started my watch a little before the actual race start, I robbed myself of a few seconds. It turns out last Sunday's Coburg Harrier's 12km, clocked me at 45:20, about a 1 minute PB over the course. Also, the gap back to 2nd was a bit bigger than thought at 13 seconds. So the racing is good.

Aerobic Versus Anaerobic

With most training concepts, there are plenty of people giving rules and debating these topics over and over. Sometimes I don't think I get my true thoughts out clearly enough on these topics. So based on a few questions I will try to clear up some of my beliefs or understandings:

  • There are no exact points where metabolism changes. Instead there are ranges where the contributions of energy systems alter. These are also influenced by many factors such as chronic diet, style of exercise, so-called steady state versus variable intensity, duration, weather, recent training and current intake.

  • I do NOT follow anyone else's program or concept to the letter. I do not like very prescriptive concepts such as Maffetone, Hadd or similar. Instead I may use one or a few ideas from various training concepts.

  • Training requirements vary a lot over time. It takes a lot of trial and error to learn how you respond to different training.

  • My training is based on developing key skills and fitness for racing. The training is then based around key sessions and groups of sessions in order to meet those key requirements.

  • Around the key criteria is the supporting elements such as flexibility, injury prevention, speed and strength. They play are part and should not be neglected, but there is never a need to go overboard and detract from the key training.

  • Training fits into life. As a result you have to get creative to get the most out of your opportunities. These may not match what the books, forums or what anyone else says, but if it works, it works.

  • I used to measure everything, from morning resting heart rate, orthostatic changes, maximal heart rate tests, log every kilometre, cadence, kilojoule eaten and expended, worry about hitting exact times to the second at the track and any other stat you can think of. Now I don't. I log some key sessions, keep a rough log of what I do, and I now race and train better.
Loading With Carbs
Rob has asked me how I carbohydrate load. The quick answer is I follow something very close to the guidelines from the Australian Institute of Sport. It's not fancy. I just make sure to get in about 8-9g/kg of body weight with simple food, supported with some sports drink. As for the concept of stuffing up your fat burning abilities by consuming a lot of high glycaemic foods, I don't think this really is the case. If you only ate gels, sports drinks and simple sugars, then maybe, but I suggest to combine real food and don't go overboard.

I had a fair bit of exposure to the studies being performed on fat adaption diets and other substrate manipulation experiments. My summary is there are plenty of good ideas, but the body likes to keep things basic. Don't differ too much from what you normally do, and save the true loading to one or two key events over the year. There is some evidence, repeated attempts stops the body from over compensating with glycogen storage. I'll try to remember to go into the details as I approach my marathon in October.


For a perfect insight into why people race and train for endurance sports, you can't go past What Matters.


  1. thanks again! since i last popped in here, i've been busy reading a book on sports nutrition, which i have tried to summarize over on my blog. i've found that it always helps to have a little more knowledge than is strictly necessary - now i feel i understand the questions of energy metabolism a little better. good luck with your preparations, i'll be following... thanks


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