My normal training weekends start with me battling on the M4 heading towards the Brecon Beacons. After 4 hours of driving, I feel like I have already done a session. Looking at my training program, I had some back to back running (two long runs in two days), instead of doing my normal thing I decided that a trip to the Alps was in need.
Door to door only took 6 hours! Flying from London Gatwick to Geneva and jumping on the Cham express. Arriving at 7.30pm in Mont Roc to meet Robbie Britton and Natalie White, who were very kindly hosting me for the weekend. From the minute I stepped off the bus I couldn’t stop smiling.
After an early night and a big breakfast, Robbie, Tim Lloyd, Mike Jones and myself were ready to head out for the 3hr run. We had all packed light, just making sure that we had enough food and water for the run.
We started with a long steady climb up to tete aux vents, this gave me a good opportunity to practice with some poles. As I do the majority of my training in the South East of England there is limited opportunity to practice using the poles. On the route up, the wildlife and views didn’t disappoint. The ground was a whole mixture, from thin trails through woodland to climbing up ladders on open rock face. After some trails, we made our decent, the ground was easy to read and we were all concentrating on form and technique. It’s so important not to burn yourself out on the down hills, in a long race, consistency is key. You don’t need to save energy for the sprint finish, as you will find the strength for that.
Another climb awaited us at the bottom. The trail up to Posetts was almost empty, the scenery also didn’t disappoint. Due to the temperature over the last couple for weeks, there was not as much water flowing through the streams. We found a beautiful stream to drink out of on the Posetts ridge. We were able to let our legs go a bit here as the trail was in great condition. My On Cloudventure Peaks did a good job on the less rocky terrain, the grip was good and there was enough protection for my feet.
From the top of the ridge we could see everywhere we ran, it’s so easy to forget how huge these mountains are. We were just tiny specs of the side of these beautiful mountains. The trail down to Le Tour was the highlight of my day. The ski slope gave us all the chance to open the legs up once again, we all finished the run in high spirits. I had learnt so much from being with Robbie, the way he navigates the terrain looks effortless. We all made surer that we ate sufficient food throughout the run. I am currently weighing 74kg, this means that I have to absorb significantly more carbohydrates per hour. I was pleased with my plan for the day, I felt strong throughout the run. The nutrition and hydration side of running is so important. If you are training for anything over 90 mins running then you need to be consuming carbohydrates. For multi stage races, early nutrition is essential so that you don’t burn out during the days that you are running.
We all went into Chamonix in the evening to catch up with some of the other British runners we are training in the Alps over the summer. The community is so dedicated with their running and their recovery. You have got to remember to have fun at the same time. We all do this sport because we enjoy it, at times it’s going to be hard, I mean really hard, but at the end of the day you have got to love what you do.
Waking up nice and early to see that the weather, once again was perfect, I wanted to get outside and run. After another big breakfast, we were ready to go. We had decided to start the run with a steep climb to the Albert Premier hut. I decided that today I wouldn’t go out with poles. The climb was steep but manageable. Trying to imagine what the area looked like 100 years ago was truly fascinating. The distance that the glacier has crept back is astonishing.
On arriving at the Albert Premiere hut, Robbie and I thought that it would be rude not to stop for some cake. With some delicious banana bread and berry tart we continued up the mountain for a bit of an explore. The air was starting to thin and we could both feel our heart rate rising. At aprox 2900m above sea level we decided to call it a day and begin our decent.
The decent at the beginning was pretty steep, thankfully it was all covered in snow so if/when we did topple over it was fine, just a bit cold! When we made it to the trail that contours around the mountain, I was in heaven. The gradient allowed you to work hard and stay in control at all times and the view was outstanding, a real highlight of the day… as well as the cake.
Chamonix is known for its trails, its big races including UTMB and its picturesque landscape. For me, it is an enormous playground. For elite runners to hikers who want to get away, Chamonix is a great option, even if it’s just for the weekend. I am sure in the weeks, months and years I will spend lots of time over there, but this trip will always be remembered. New friends and new trails, life seems pretty ideal right now!