Week 11 of training had long one been down as a week that could either see some of the highest volume in the training plan or some of the lowest. It turned out to be the latter.
Monday morning I woke really stiff and sore from the exploits of the Fraction the day before. I got myself on the elliptical trainer first thing for a very gentle hour of pushing the legs back and forth. I headed to the gym that evening for a spin session, which was treated very much as a recovery ride, keeping the FTW low at 230 and averaging just 3.4 w/kg.
Tuesday and I was busy preparing for the Australian Grand Prix weekend, having already woken at 1:40 for an hour or so prologue effort as the first images from the event began to head my way. That meant I just had the evening to train. I had an unexpected opportunity to visit the gym and managed to grab the last place for the spin class. First I headed to the treadmill for a very easy paced recovery 5k, beginning at just over 6 mph and peaking at around 8 mph. Everything was pretty stiff, especially the calves, but I was thankful to be even able to run.
The spin session was much easier than the day previous, I increased the FTW to 240 (my normal figure is 260-265) and put in a solid but deliberately not too taxing effort, averaging 3.7 w/kg. I then put in 30 minutes on one of the gym elliptical trainers, the effort quite high compared to the home machine thanks to the ramp feature mine does not have.
Wednesday and I was up at 2 am to begin work proper on the Australian GP. I only got to sleep at around 11pm so was pretty shattered when I finished work at around 11 am and headed to bed for a few hours fairly dreadful sleep. I dragged my sorry body out at 4 pm for a really tough easy ten mile run. Both calves continued to ache and generally I just felt really lethargic, both from not enough sleep and the efforts of Sunday. It says something for my form at the moment, that I averaged a fairly respectable 7:20 per mile pace.
In recent years this week of covering the Australian GP has offered the opportunity to put in a surprising amount of running – two years ago I put in my first, and probably only ever, one hundred mile week. The reason I could fit this into a busy working schedule was the GP was held at twilight, which meant I could go to bed at 10 or so, wake at 3 or 4 am, work for six or seven hours, get a couple of hours nap, then have the late afternoon and early evening to run.
Following the tragic accident of Jules Bianchi they have largely dispensed with races ending in poor light and so the practice sessions, coupled with an eleven hour time difference, were beginning as early as 1:30 am, with my work beginning an hour or so before that. This transpired to make things very difficult.
I got around three hours sleep Wednesday night before waking at 2 am on Thursday evening for ten hours continuous effort behind the desk, finishing at 11:30 or so and retiring to bed. I am a dreadful daytime sleeper and managed just a couple of hours sleep before giving up and pottering around the house for a bit. I’d agreed to take Grantham Running Club’s Thursday night marathon paced session, so I was out at 6:30 to meet up with the other guys. The legs were tired, the hip a bit bothersome. I threatened repeatedly to drop out when we passed my house at six miles, but there was some kind of team spirit going on as I found myself continuing and completing the ten mile group run and putting in another mile or so to make it 13.1 for the day.
I headed to bed at around 9:30 but found it impossible to get to sleep, knowing I had 12:30 am alarm set. So I finally drifted off to sleep at around 11:45, giving myself just 45 minutes sleep to ready myself for a break free 12 hours stint as the opening practice sessions of the 2016 F1 season took place. Shattered I headed straight to bed, but by now my body was virtually jet lagged and woke less than two hours after getting to sleep.
I took Friday as a rest day, as I often do. I went to bed at 10:15pm and was able to get around 3 1/2 hours sleep before waking at 2 am for qualifying day. This was not quite as long a day as Friday and I was done by 11:30 am. I got a couple of hours sleep before waking again prematurely. I had plans to run 16 miles or so. I set out at 4 pm. I was tired but actually running quite well, the first mile 7:20, the fourth mile 6:39. Then, out of the blue I found the very top of the right thigh, near the hip flexor giving off alarming pains, very much like an attack of cramp.
I stopped at a bus shelter, sat for a minute or so then began to stretch the hip. I set off again and was able to run with a moderate amount of discomfort. I was in a strange situation where I felt I couldn’t possibly run 16 miles but didn’t feel bad enough that I had to take the very shortest route home. So I ended up meandering a little, finally drifting home having covered nine miles at an average of 6:56 per mile. I assumed it was a cramp as the pain was quite intense having finished, but by the time I retired to bed had mostly dissipated. I was though quite clearly exhausted, so I gave up any ideas of supplementing the missing miles with an hour on the elliptical trainer and settled down to watch the World Indoor Athletics Championships.
I managed to get nearly four undisturbed hours sleep on Saturday night before waking at 2 am for the final day of work covering the Australian Grand Prix. The race itself was quite eventful, I began work at 2 am. I was hopeful perhaps of finishing early enough so I could ride solo the 13 Hills ride Witham Wheelers were taking part in on Sunday morning. Any hopes of an early finish were dashed with the sheer volume of work coming in, we reckoned it was our busiest race ever!
I kind of finished at 1pm and crashed on the sofa, hoping to get an hour or so nap before maybe going on a bike ride. By 3 pm I still hadn’t got to sleep, but I was too shattered to contemplate leaving the sofa. Finally I got to sleep and before I knew it it was 5 pm. With more work still to be done I abandoned any notion of exercise and resigned myself to a very easy week of training, but a really hard week physically in terms of sleep deprivation – hoping that a quiter week before Easter may see more opportunities to put in a full week of training.