It’s 4:00am, Nduna is blanketed by a layer of mist. Whenever I come here, I am stunned by the raw beauty of this place. It takes my breath away every time I look out over the valley before me. I make myself a cup of coffee and take time to enjoy watching the zebra’s and impala’s coming down from higher ground. These early morning moments, before the rest of the world wakes up, is my favourite. The calm before the storm…
Day 1 started with an easy out and back run from the lodge to Alexandria. The route included some medium hills, a few cows grazing next to the road and a couple of local farmers looking at us as if we were aliens, dressed in very colourful spandex. The goal here is to loosen up the muscles after a 12 hour drive. High spirits all around as the group get’s the opportunity to catch up with each other. They have no idea what is still coming.
Hills, hills and some more hills.
Hill training is hard, whether you are running or biking. The saying “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” is VERY applicable to the hills outside Alexandria. At an 11% gradient it is a true character builder. This session was to cycle from Nduna to Kikuya Game Farm (13km of rolling hills to warm up the legs) and then attack the 11% gradient hill. Minimum 4 sets. Recover on top for 3-5 min, before heading down again. The goal here is to keep a consistent pace up the hill for every effort. Get a high cadence, spin it out and only get out of the saddle if you really have to.
Run like you stole it…
After some unexpected down time due to the 37 degree heat, the group headed out on the road for some interval training late afternoon, planned and executed by Coach Jarryd Irvine. The focus here was to practice cadence and leg turnover during 600m intervals (Yes, that was received very well by the group).
Cadence training is quite underestimated most of the time. As athletes we are always focussed on either the time or the distance, but never on how comfortable and efficient we can reach either of the two. A quick and efficient cadence when running is not only going to save you energy, it is going to give you a strong run after a solid bike. It is going to make hill running easier, no matter the gradient.
It’s all about pacing in the end.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to how you pace yourself during a race. Too fast and you end up hitting the wall, sitting next to the road, cramping up or you might even have to crawl to the finish line. Messing up your pacing strategy during a race not only breaks you physically, but mentally as well. But if you get your pacing spot on and you will have the race of your life. That said, the only way to get that pacing dialed in, is to practice it over and over and in as many conditions as possible. Get to know your body, how it reacts to hill gradients, temperatures and learn how to adapt to your race environment.
Your coach is not with you on the race course (We would love to be!!). We can prepare you to the best of our abilities and knowledge, but at the of the day, YOU are the one racing, YOU are the one that needs to think on your feet (or bike seat) when conditions change. We love shouting instructions from the sidelines, but in the end, we can only give you the blueprint to complete the race, the execution however is in your hands.