Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tortoise-O v Hare-O (or no-Hair-O in my case)

I know it was along time ago, but having just competed in the AIRE promoted Dales Weekend, where I managed a combined 12th place over the two days in M45L, my mind wandered back to the MDOC Twin Peak weekend in the Lakes back in June. Now there I managed to snatch the combined title in this class (much to my surprise!) with a 4th and a 3rd on the two days.

For whatever reason, I appear to be getting slower through the terrain. But generally, I'm managing to keep it quite accurate. This 'steady away' approach really seemed to work in the Lakes, with most people running much faster than I was, but making big, big mistakes.

Moving on to the Scottish 6 Days, I based my strategy on the Twin Peak result - steady away - keep it accurate. Except most people were keeping it accurate at twice my speed! So after the first two days, when I found myself languishing in the 80's in M45L, I tried to concentrate more on the running. An improvement thereafter, but the damage was done, and I never really managed to get going - not the most memorable result for my last Scottish 6 Days as an under 50!

This last weekend, I really tried to come 'out of the blocks' with a bit more vigour and purpose, but they really were areas for hares (particularly if you have good eyesight to spot depressions in a sea of grass, or rivals popping out of control sites!)

So 2:1 to the hares!

One final thought which occurred to me when trying to analyse my disappointing start to the Scottish 6 Days. My first 2 days were relatively early starts, with my starts getting later throughout the week.

Now a 'normal' day for me (being a day at work) usually starts with a stiff cup of coffee when I arrive at the office about 8am, followed by several more cups of coffee at 90 minute intervals throughout the day! By the time I get to do an evening race (road, fell, trail, even 'O'), I must be saturated with caffeine, and seem to race OK.

But at a weekend or at the Scottish 6 Days, I usually don't have a coffee before running (unless I have a headache, for which the only cure, apart from Ibruprofen, is, you guessed it, coffee!). And I feel sluggish when trying to run. However, as the Scottish week progressed, my later start times meant I needed my elevenses of a Wilf's cake and a cup of coffee. And my performances started to pick up!

So perhaps what I now need, in preparation for a good run, is a nine hour day in a basement office and six stiff cups of coffee! What a life!

PS Just noticed that there was an interesting article in the 4 October 2007 issue of Athletics Weekly on the subject of the use of Caffeine in athletics, particularly endurance races, which seemed to support my observations (and also expanded on the medical reasons why, in the context of Caffeine as a drug, albeit not currently banned in sport!)

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