As always, September is a strange month for me. This year, like the previous 3 years, I have taken a whole month away from training, preferring to ride my bike for fun.
I was awarded a grant from Wiltshire Council in March, Funding Future Olympians and Paralympians, which meant I didn’t need to work over the summer. I could prepare fully for the World Championships and spend my time as a athlete: eat, train, eat, recover, train, eat, recover, sleep. ‘Recover’ often involved sleep, watching Breaking Bad, being introduced to LoTR, cutting the grass or painting the house!
Because I didn’t work over the summer, all my mapping work was planned to be completed in a 2 month window in September and October. The fell is at 800m so the snow could come at any time. September was beautiful up there; spending my days in gorgeous open forests with fantastic views over Hadeland. In hindsight, I probably should have worked a bit harder in September, to get more of the map completed, but by the time my parents visited in early October, I reckoned I was about 60% of the way through the 5.8sqkm I was surveying. With the change of month, so too came the change of season. No more 20°c sunny days without a cloud in the sky. Hello to rain, frost ( a few mornings), snow (for about 3 days) and much colder weather. Suddenly completing the map before the end of October seemed much harder to achieve.
I got it all done on 30th October. The final days were spent in an area with many moose, so I often encountered hunting dogs. My first encounter terrified me and is well documented elsewhere.
September was spent eating four portions of cake on more than one occasion, demolished 4 large bars of Kvik Lunsj, 3 bags of Pick’n’Mix candy, and a cellar full of Pepsi Max! After 6 months without such foods, I figured I was allowed to eat. A lot. With all that goodness, my efforts to chunk up for winter were coming along nicely. But as October bought darkened days and rain, so my mood changed, and suddenly, chunking up for winter seemed like a bad idea.
Traditionally October is ‘new training season’ start. This year was no different, only with all the mapping work I wasn’t able to train as I wanted. Instead I focussed my efforts on one key weak area: core strength. I didn’t focus on it in the normal way though. Typically core training for me involves lieing on the floor watching Red Bull TV and XCO racing, waving a leg or arm around in an attempt to ‘strengthen’ … something.
I drastically changed my approach. Have you ever heard of the 7 minute burpee challenge? Credit for this session must go to Matt Arnold, my gym buddy in England! A burpee is a star jump, followed by dropping to the floor to complete a press up, before jumping up for the star jump, and repeating. Over and over and over again for 7 minutes. If you rest, the time keeps ticking. My record went from 69 to 104 in the space of a month. It’s hard work and tends to reduce one to a collapsed, sobbing, sweating mess. How many can you do?
With the map surveying complete, I am now getting back into the flow of twice daily training sessions. The plan isn’t fixed at the moment, I’m free to train what I want each day, providing I complete all the sessions each week and hit my weekly hourly target.
Now I’m officially able to live and work in Norway, I no longer need to travel back to the UK (or abroad) every few months to avoid becoming an illegal immigrant! When HJ goes away, I don’t need to go home. Home is here now. We have our own house. It’s very strange how grown up we’ve become! I am able to make full use of the local gym/training center: Hadelands Idrettsfysioterapi og Treningssenter. Recently HIFT moved across the street to a larger building. Space is plenty, and there’s everything I need to train. From multiple 20kg bars and cage to a range of free weights (plus the usual machine weights which have their own room), and a whole room dedicated to stretching and core! That’s not to mention the 4 physio and 2 exercise class rooms. It’s a perfect setup just 8 minutes of running downhill from our house.