I received my copy of Training for the New Alpinism on February 11, and little did I know what I was setting in motion when I launched out with my first training plan a week later.
First off, for the first time in my life, I’ve actually come to enjoy running. Even though I trained last year for the 20 km de Paris, I never really got into it. Heading out meant getting over some serious mental obstacles almost every time, and I honestly didn’t feel ready for the race in October last year. I did finish without collapsing, though, and I suppose that was an achievement of sorts.
After reading House and Johnston, though, I decided to get serious about focusing on my endurance base. I dusted off the heart rate monitor, found some tools that work better for me (Runmeter, Strava), and then set off at a plodding pace, doing my best to keep my heart rate under my calculated aerobic threshold of 136.
I’m happy to report, after about nine weeks of training (minus 2.5 weeks of illness in March), that there’s definitely been some progress in my pace. At an average heart rate of 132 bpm, my pace has fallen from 9:23 / km (15:06 / mile) to 7:20 / km (11:48 / mile).
I’m not going to win any races at this speed, but that’s not the point. I could go forever at this pace. I get home after 30 minutes of running, and it’s almost like it never happened. Also, the time is flying by on my runs, to the point that if Runmeter wasn’t announcing the elapsed time and my heart rate every two minutes, I would swear that I wasn’t even half way finished.
Translated into the context of alpinism, I hope that this means that I will be able to move faster and work a bit harder at a lower heart rate. For now I’m happy to have established a more solid foundation for the hard work ahead. Excelsior!