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Training At Altitude – The Mile High Club – Over In The States

Hey everyone, I just wanted to say a massive thank you all for the views on my blogs, the responses and the shares. Its awesome to have your support and interest in what I am doing… There is the thing though, what am I doing for my audience, why should you read my blog?

I use this blog and these words to show you my journey and tell you my story but I also do it to motivate, educate and inspire the person sitting on the other side of this blog. If I motivate just one person to get up and dust themselves off when they were so close to throwing in the towel, my work I feel is a success. I want to create positive change and show everyone they have the power. Writing this blog helps me connect with people I don’t know but are similar to me because if this blog effects them in a positive way, we are more a like than strangers, there is a connection. To the people who do relate to what I say and post, you are not my ‘followers’ you are my tribe! Because as long as there are people out there like me who want to affect positive change in others each day, I will keep writing. Like I said I love the ‘Likes’, ‘Shares’, ‘Retweets’ and new followers everyday because it helps me positively influence peoples lives to make them want to achieve their dreams and goals like I do.

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“Never give up on your dreams. Because you just might be the greatest they have ever seen” 

So back to training and how I am adapting to the new environment. Training has been going really well, there has been one week where I took a down week out of the 8 weeks that I’ve been here. The reason being my body was the starting to feel the effects of the grind up at this altitude. My body was slowly fatiguing day by day due to the high mileage and intense workouts. Some days I wished I had someone else body because mines would be aching and have that warm pulse feeling you have in your legs when they’re in bits! You know that feeling when your legs are “fizzing” when you lay down in bed after a long day on your feet… thats mine!lol.

A lot of people have been asking me what type of training have I been doing, how many miles am I running, how fast am I running those miles and what is training like in Alamosa?

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I do a lot of mileage, the most I have ever done since I started running to be honest. I run anywhere from 115-125 miles per week with two workouts and a long hard run. Workouts are fast and at race pace and tempo is tempo, that varies between 5.25-5 minute pace per mile depending on my heart rate and recovery rate from a faster track session on Tuesday. I have got into the habit of wearing my heart rate monitor now that I am at altitude just so I know I am not dipping into my reserves. I use the Garmin 620 and heart rate band and it works like a charm.

I’ve got a talented group of guys that I train with. Most of them have experienced winning NCAA individual and team titles which I cannot wait to be a part of, that are of similar mindset to me and want to push their limits to see how great they can become. From what I’ve seen so far these guys can become great athletes and help Adams State keep up their long tradition of distance running success.

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The sessions have been really tough to adapt to. You get into a state of fatigue very quickly and early into the session if you push too hard too soon. Once you fall into the fatigue zone at altitude there is almost no chance your coming back, your session will pretty much be over unless you take a big recovery to off set the lactic accumulation and high heart rate and sometimes that isn’t even enough because your legs feel like two dead weights that don’t want to move you anymore. Its like dancing at the edge of a cliff… You’d better be careful.

You can really feel your heart beat in your chest doing hard workouts when stressing your cardiovascular system up here. It’s almost like a “thud” inside your chest and a small alarm bell in your body saying “how far are you wanting to push me Sean!?” Because let’s face it all the will and mental toughness in the world doesn’t completely override human physiology.

There have been a few bad days up here, Im not going to lie. There have been days where I pushed way to hard in workouts and not recovered properly onto the next hard session or I run too fast on my recovery days my hard session suffered the next day. For you guys that know me, this is a pretty standard thing for me to do… Run my body to the ground because I pushed past my limits, I will never learn! ha.

My recoveries between track/road repetitions are slightly longer than if I were at sea level because I have to take into consideration that I am at altitude and my body takes a little longer to recover and bring the heart rate down before getting the same quality of effort in the next repetition. If you don’t take longer recoveries than you do at sea level one of two things will happen 1- you either run at a slower pace than you do at sea level or 2- you run the same pace and take the same recoveries as you do at sea level and let me tell you it ain’t pretty! You won’t be a happy chappy by the end of the session. If you train at altitude like you would at sea-level you will be left to lick your wounds.

I have really found it difficult to measure my efforts over 1ks and 2ks in training, it is still a working progress to get the longer reps under control. The shorter reps I have been doing well in ie 200/300/400m repetitions. The reason the longer track reps are feeling tough is because of the lack of atmospheric oxygen and as the track reps get longer the body has to utilise oxygen more efficiently to the respiring muscle tissues but when the body doesn’t get the oxygen demands that it needs your pace will start to slow as a subconscious mechanism to protect your body so you don’t dip too far into the “red zone.”

So far I’ve really enjoyed it here, I feel like Alamosa is really toughening me up probably more mentally than physically. More so mentally because the environment is different. At the start of my time here I was guilty of going to fast too soon, I would see certain paces on my watch and I try to compare them to sea level times and coach would be like “Sean you gotta stop training like your at sea level up here, you will burn yourself out.” But you know me I would keep pushing along until that day would happen and guess what did. It made me realise that in order to make this programme work for me I need to let go and stop being a control freak overtraining and relax and let the coach do his job. I think that has been my biggest problem over the years, fixing my brain and listening to others. I used to think I was mentally tough doing more or going faster than what people say but now I realise I was just mentally stupid! ha. But hindsight is a beautiful thing!!

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Over and out!!