First quarter of the year 2014

Summary of first quarter of the year 2014

My training since last autum hasn't been proceeded exactly as I planned. Well, to be honest, I've had no training plan since early nineties, but that's not the point. After couple of uphill sessions on last November my left achilles tendon inflammated and I was not able to do proper running training in two months. Luckily the injury didn't prevent cycling, so I did quite much indoor cycling from December to February. Great thing on indoor cycling is that after you've done that enough running on treadmill doesn't feel boring at all, because cycling on trainer is even much more boring.

After two months of poor training and couple of visits to doctor I got an cortisone injection in my achilles tendon. Or actually around the achilles tendon. That, combined with couple of days total rest from all training seemed to help and from the beginning of February I've had almost normal training going on. On February we had one week combined vacation and training camp near Torrevieja, Spain.

Easy 15 km on the beaches of Lo Pagan (photo: Mikko Lanki)
My initial plan was to run lots of easy kilometers in Spain, but after being about two months out of real training I was relatively satisfied when I covered about 150 km in seven days without any injuries or bad feelings in my body. I know this sounds pathetic, but it is about as much as I ran from beginning of December to end of January.

Early this year IAU announced that 24 hour running World Championships -race will be run at midsummer in Plzen, Czech Republic. Not long after the announcement started the rumours about possible cancellation of the race and couple of weeks ago it was confirmed by IAU officially. Latest news from IAU is that 24 h World champs will be run in Taipei, on December. Without me, at least that's the plan at the moment as I registered in 246 km long Spartathlon-run from Athens to Greece which will be run during last weekend of September and I don't believe I can afford to have two expensive running related trips within 2,5 months.

I've been in Spartathlon twice and finished the race once: 2007 I failed to finish, because I was poorly prepared, I had practically no clue in what kind of race I was participating and only couple of years experience in ultrarunning. A year later, 2008, with almost as poor preparation, still no clue in what kind of race I was really participating and only couple of years plus one experience in ultrarunning I managed to drag my exchausted and dehydrated body to the finish line, at the statue of King Leonidas about 35 hours after the race started. Almost an hour before the cutoff time, after being 11th slowest of all the finished runners on second half of the race.

My plan this year is simple: I'll train better, prepare for the conditions, take care of energy and liquid intake during the race and cut some serious slice off my time by not slowing so much during second half of the race. Sounds easy? Should I also mention that the conditions in Greece are far from ideal for me, as I am without doubt one of the weakest distance runners in the world to stand the warm temperatures and my achilles tendons are prone to inflammate easily when doing uphill training.

So yeah, I know I might have some kind of challenge at hand to prepare for Spartathlon without training in the heat nor without doing serious uphill-training. Good thing is that according to course profile there are even some flat sections, as downhills are actually bigger problem for me than uphills. And based on my previous experiences there is hot only at daytime, so if I am fast enough it might be possible that I don't have to stand the heat more than one day. And seemingly impossible challenges are after all the reason why I run ultradistances.

Course profile of Spartathlon recorded with Polar S625X.
As part of my training towards Spartathlon I registrated in 211 km Laulasmaa Ultra in Estonia a week before midsummer. This competiton is for me some kind of long test run in order to check how my training proceeds, but of course my intention is same as in every long competition: to win with good result. I'm still thinking if I should run Kuopio 6 h track race four weeks before Laulasmaa Ultra as training run. Possibly I'll do that because it is always great to be on track when someone sets a new national record, even though I know that I have no chances to win in such short and fast-paced event.

January - March, numeric summary:

Running: 781 km (avg pace 5.25/km)
Cycling (on trainer indoors): 1023 km (26 h)
Cross-Country Skiing: 93 km (7,5 h)
Strength training: 1 h 11 min
Walking: 20 km (3,5 h)
Total training time: 108 h 40 min

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