Going into the beginning of an extended training regiment is always scary, especially when your plans begin to change before the first step has been pounded into the sun-baked, uneven, concrete pathway. But when shift work, sandstorms, wind, humidity and temperatures averaging the high 30s are a factor, a degree of structural flexibility is necessary.
So lets break this week’s activity down:
Plan says: 45min easy run
I Say: 50 min run on the tready, easy pace – end up covering 5 miles so I am happy with that.
Plan Says: 50 min cross train:
I do: 50 mins on an exercise bike, the boredom nearly kills me.
Plan Says: 45min easy run
I do: An outside run. Yay. I am on nights; running inside on the tready is hard when one is awake, let alone half asleep. So I take a rare opportunity and run back to the hotel from work, extending at the hotel end to make it a 45min 4 1/4 mile run pace is good, I am happy.
Plan says: 50 min cross train
I do: 2 x 10K cycles on the exercise bike, using the first as a target time for the second. I cycle 22:07 and 20:56 – so I am happy, it is not quite 45mins but I am sweating like a dog, not that dogs sweat. So erm. I am sweating like… hmmm. Ok. If I was a weather pattern, I would be a monsoon right now.
Plan says: 40min easy run
I say: Doha Bay Running Club are doing some running up at Al Kor – on the coast. There is no way I am missing out on that opportunity. I end up running for 90mins and cover 15K’s, pace is around the low 10min/mile mark and a few of those are even at optimal marathon pace. It is a little off plan (especially since I am in week 1) but flexibility is important.
Plan Says: Endurance run, 6 miles easy pace
I say: The wind has died down and Stand Up Paddle Boarding is open. I do a 90min session at 8am, after my night shift. Work my core, work my thighs, my arms, and have lots of wet fun.
Plan says: Rest
I do: REST. erm. Yeah! Woke up knackered and a little bruised from the SUPping. Think I will follow my plan and take this as a rest day. Spent all day at work so I walked back to hotel.
Running at Al Kor
When the session was agreed upon during the previous week’s run, I imagined it would only be the 8 of us that turned up for that session. But at 4:50am, on a surprisingly cool Qatar morning in late June, a good 15 or so of us congregated at the compound entrance.
After exchanging pleasantries we get underway. There are two routes this week, a 10K and a 15K. The plan is to run the first 5K’s as one big group then split. John, one of the regular DBRC members, points out that ‘we’ve come this far, might as well make the most of it’. So about half of us agree to do the longer of the two runs. Plus it’s going to be nice, and slow, and easy, right??
As we head off, the Ultra-boys lead the way along with our South African group leader for this week. The pace started off slow, a little slower that I would like, but this was good. I could easily sustain this for a couple of hours if needed. As with all things ultra, the slow place was clearly too slow for the UB’s at the front and they subtly increased the pace as I tried to keep them within 100 meters, oblivious to the increase in pace. I like to chase, maybe I was a dog in a former existence.
At the 5K mark, we stop for a drink, amongst the rubble of the coastal wasteland. I am still feeling strong and have run at a nice pace. I am UP for this 15K. In fact, I am almost* turned on by it. Is that wrong?
*let me stress, the ALMOST in that sentence
The 15K group ended up being a little smaller than I thought it would be, but that didn’t matter. For the next 4 miles, I kept my pace, and my place as we pounded along the hard sand. For 7 miles, I kept it up, despite the increasing heat and general dryness.
The last 2 miles, however, are a different story. I do not think as these 2 miles as miles, but as the 3 and a bit gruelling kilometres that they have been burned into my mind. I was over heating, I’d stopped sweating (bad sign), I was flagging, I was at the back of our small group. At the drink station I drank too much cold water and spent the next half a K trying not to throw the precious water back up. Focus is needed, but at this point focus is all I have.
I rounded off the run in around 90mins, a decent time really. Towards the end I was reassured that my fellow runners have been here for years, are adapted to this climate. That when they all arrived, in the early days, they never ran more than 8KM, that running 15KM is dangerous, ludicrous in this heat. But they are all marathoners, and Qatar Resident Permit holders. I have been here for 8 weeks. I am doing well. That was a good run!
The Week Ahead
I am on nights from Tuesday for 7. So my chances of running outside are limited. Since my session with the DBRC went quite well, considering I was on nights, I might try to punch for a mad – pre-sleep session once again. A week of consisting gym sessions is in the books I think. Luckily I have worked out how to make the bike interesting.
If I am going to continue with the Paddle Boarding and a generally improved all round fitness then I need to add some core and strength work to my weeks, so will also be putting in a concerted effort to improve my own structural flexibility.