After a couple of weeks of "rest" where my overall weekly mileage was cut by about 50% I decided to try out some cross training activities to fill the void of the usual running time. I printed off a triathlon plan, although I have no plans to actually do one in the near future, but I thought it would give me some parameters to follow for some decent swimming and cycling workouts. I did this last summer and found it to be a great way to keep things fresh, strengthen my upper body a bit and cut a few pounds.
My cycling skills are pretty weak but I've found cycling is a great compliment to running hills. Whenever I feel myself red-lining as I run up a hill I remember what I would do if I were on a bike and I "gear-down" so to speak, slowing and taking shorter steps. This usually gets the job done and I'm up and over the hill before I know it. With all the rain we've had in Nova Scotia this spring I have developed a fondness for the bikes in the gym across from my work. My favorite-of course-are the ones that allow you to pick a scene to ride through on a big display screen right in front of your handlebars. I still haven't beat the pacer!
My swimming has certainly slowed since the good-'ol-days in my youth of swim meets and time trials, but I still enjoy jumping in and getting in some laps. I've found, since I started going beyond 42.2kms, that my shoulders don't get alot of attention, which has caused them to be a bit stiff after really long runs. Swimming has been a great solution for that. I've also found it's great for keeping up my ankle flexibility, a huge plus when I'm on some of the tougher technical trails.
The best part about scaling back these past few weeks is the lack of pressure to get a certain amount of mileage in during a run, and I've run more for time than distance. The other day, during one of the very few sunny, hot days we've had this spring, I took off down a common walking trail in my neighborhood and was happily surprised to find a new trail some ATV-ers had made. It led into some low brush and pretty cool geology than was fun to scramble up and down. Eventually the dips in the trail became filled with water and when I finally hit a spot (about 2 miles in) that had ducks swimming around I figured it was time to double back. I had misjudged my water needs though, and even though I was only about 4 kms from home I knew I would need something to avoid over heating. Luckily one of the small rivers that cross the trail was empty of fishermen so I jumped in, shoes and all, and splashed around surprised at how freaking cold the water still is. Refreshed I climbed back up to the trail and headed home, squishing shoes and a big smile all the way ;-)
Ah, but now it's back to training time. I've skipped the build phase of my 52 km training plan, since I'm confident that with my recent (albeit slow) trail race of 50 km I have the endurance factor in check. This time around I'm focusing on overall speed and dong alot of speed intervals. Jodi and Karine's races require almost super-human quad strength to handle the massive climbs and descents of their courses but the Lou52 has only a few short hills, much more similar to the trail terrain close to my home. Of course I'll still fit in a few of my favorite trail and road races until the big Lou52 race in August. The next one is this weekend in fact, the Johnny Miles 10km race in my old hometown of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. This year the route has been changed so instead of the beautiful trail you normally run on for half of the race the runners will get a tour of the North side of New Glasgow, prior to heading into Trenton and coming into New Glasgow again for the finish. I'll have my "I don't train, I race" husband beside me as we celebrate Father's Day. Stay tuned for a race report early next week:-)