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Blog Spot: Steve Vernon

Steve Vernon

Steve Vernon's third and final blog from the UKA/London Marathon Endurance Camp in Font Romeu, France. For more blogs and videos keep an eye on www.uka.org.uk.

UKA/London Marathon Endurance Camp – Font Romeu – Week Three

User AvatarPosted by Site Administrator at 4/10/2010 4:00:37 PM

We have now come to the end of our camp in Font Romeu and despite being fatigued from the hard training we are all raring to get home and continue our preparation for the upcoming cross country season. Spending three to four weeks here in Font Romeu has certainly moved everyone on with regards to their fitness and has no doubt allowed us to focus 100 per cent on our training.

Chris Thompson, Lee Merrien and John Beattie have been on a slightly different schedule this week as they have concentrated on dropping their mileage in order to feel fresh ahead of their final track session before the Commonwealth Games. Their last track session went really well and they are all in high spirits ahead of Delhi.

Those of us not going to the Commonwealth Games will be racing the road and cross country relays over the next few weeks and experimenting with when is best to race after a period at altitude. Most scientific literature suggests that either one to four days or 14 to 21 days after returning from altitude is the best time to race but this differs for many people and will be a case of trial and error over the next few weeks. As mentioned before, altitude training can increase your red blood cell concentration and the changes that occur within the blood system are still taking place when you get back to sea level and can cause an athlete to feel really good some days and tired on other days immediately following a prolonged stay at altitude.

The purpose of this altitude trip for me however has not been to target a specific race, but more as a means to focus entirely on my training and raise my level of endurance prior to the next block of intense training leading up to the McCain Liverpool Cross Challenge (incorporating the European cross country trials).

The group have found the training a lot easier in this final week as our bodies have become accustomed to the lack of oxygen up here. Recovery is a key factor and it has been vital that we refuel with carbohydrates immediately after our sessions and take on extra fluid due to the drier air here at altitude. Heart rate monitors have been another useful tool to use so that we don’t run too hard on our threshold sessions and recovery runs.

The highlight of this week’s evening entertainment has been a group charades game with the best part being Chris Thompson’s attempt at acting out a ‘Pain au Chocolate’! The spot quizzes have continued but we have some awful losers in the group so they have become less regular. Sleeping during the day has become more frequent so between the hours of 2pm and 4pm our apartments have been silent. Cath Riley has been the only person not benefitting from the luxury of an afternoon sleep and continues to provide excellent physiotherapy treatment throughout the day for our weary bodies.

My blog wouldn’t be complete without a wildlife update so I want to mention how lucky we have been to see the enormous Lammergeier (Bearded Vulture) this week. They have been circling around the lake and have a wingspan of over three metres so are certainly worth seeing. Once again the Birmingham University lads have been scared.  There is also a resident mongrel dog down at the lake that regularly enjoys running the 5.5 mile lap with us. The poor dog joined in on two runs in one day earlier in the week so is certainly racking up the miles too.

Just as the weather back home has turned awful we have had four days of brilliant sunshine and cloudless skies to enjoy. It certainly makes training a lot easier when it isn’t raining every day! I am certainly not looking forward to the mud and rain back in Manchester.

On reflection this altitude camp has been both beneficial and successful for all of us, and we are hugely grateful to UKA and the London Marathon for creating this opportunity. Training in groups at altitude is what the best distance runners in the world are doing so following in their foot steps can only raise the current standard of British endurance running!

Steve Vernon