If you’d have asked me to explain these 3 things when I started my journey to complete 21 challenges in 21 months, I would have though you’d gone mad. While I fully understand what a 12 mile training run means, I sure as hell would not have been completing one (well not without severe injury at least). And as for plyometrics & fartlek, well…..you can imagine my thoughts. But now, just 7 months on, not only do I understand these terms, I fully embrace them in my training.
I remember back in March when I had the 10 miler in Chester – my cardiovascular system was shot to pieces after time off after the ankle injury, and I hadn’t got in enough training sessions. Both of which meant that a 10 mile race was most definitely a challenge for me at the time. Fast forward 4 months, and there I am on a Sunday morning, up bright & early, ready to embark on a 12 mile run along the Mersey & around the varying water parks near Chorlton – all in the aid of training for my first marathon. Don’t get me wrong, I found the run tough, especially towards the end (though I think secretly I did appreciate the summer sun topping up my vitamin D supplies), but overall it wasn’t the beast I thought it was going to be.
To answer a question asked by my cousin “plyometrics, what the hell are you talking about?”
Plyometrics is a type of exercise designed to produce fast, powerful movements, and improve the functions of the nervous system, generally for the purpose of improving performance in sports. Plyometric movements, in which a muscle is loaded and then contracted in rapid sequence, use the strength, elasticity and innervation of muscle and surrounding tissues to jump higher, run faster, throw farther, or hit harder, depending on the desired training goal. Plyometrics is used to increase the speed or force of muscular contractions, providing explosiveness for a variety of sport-specific activities. Benefits range from injury prevention, power development and sprint performance amongst others.
The exercises vary each week, but my particular favourite has to be hopping up onto a park bench, especially when it’s been raining – you really do take your life in to your own hand then. And as for fartlek…..
Fartlek, which means “speed play” in Swedish, is a form of interval training which puts stress on the whole aerobic energy system due to the continuous nature of the exercise. The difference between this type of training and continuous training is that the intensity or speed of the exercise varies, meaning that aerobic and anaerobic systems can be put under stress. It differs from traditional interval training in that it is unstructured; intensity and/or speed can be varied whenever the athlete wishes.
We did this last week at the Water Park, and while we were testing it out for the first time, there was a guy running laps of the lake – now this guy had to have been either ex or current military. He was built like a brick house, and speeding his way round, lap after lap after lap. Somehow every single time he passed us, it was when we were doing the slow bits of the interval training. I kinda wanted to tell him what we were doing, just so he didn’t think we were so bloody slow!
Anyway, the point of my ramble is that hard work & determination really does pay off. While I’m still not in a position to become a Royal Marine Commando, I am a hell of a lot fitter, 2 stone lighter and a damn sight faster! I’m not sure who said it, but “it’s quality practice, not superior genes, that propels people to greatness”. With continued effort & drive, anyone can reach their potential.
Go on. Give it a go!
Help for Heroes [21:21] Challenge