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Back to Base(ics)

After a "racy winter" Nik Cook implements the base training in his Powerman Zofingen prep. And comes a cropper with the embrocation lotion...

I’d thought one of the biggest bonuses of deciding to focus on Powerman Zofingen in September is that I’d been able to postpone base training and wouldn’t have to spend the worst of the winter battling ice, wind, snow and rain grinding out endless miles on the bike and foot.

Instead, I’ve had quite a “racy winter” competing in cyclocross and at least one off-road duathlon each month. Training has been fairly ad hoc but I’ve spent plenty of time on the mountain bike and had some great snowy runs with the hounds. It’s been a really refreshing change and, at the Asics Human Race Off Road Series, there’s been a real sense of camaraderie from the usual suspects on the start line. I’ve not done too badly posting all top ten finishes and in particular putting in some strong performances on the bike.

At my final race of the winter on 12 February, the Fearless Duathlon at Coed Llandegla, despite managing to go the wrong way at the start of the bike, I came home second being dropped on the final run by the Welsh National fell Running Team member, Ifs Richards, so no shame there.

With racing out of the way, it’s now time to knuckle down to some base work. So it’s heart rate Zones 1-2, being overtaken by old ladies on shopping bikes and reining in every competitive urge every time someone casually trots by me running. The plan is to work through building up the slow and steady mileage through to the end of May.

My only race I’ve got pencilled in between then and now is Oulton Park duathlon but I’ll just train through that. See how I’ve got that pre-emptive race day excuse in early? I’m then taking on the HellRider as a solo racer. Eight hours of continuous off-road running and mountain biking should be a good test of the base I’ve managed to build.

So week one of base building is done and I’d forgotten just how much “fun” it was. The hounds don’t seem to understand the importance of me developing me running economy and fat burning ability and, being herders, try to harass me constantly into speeding up.

My plan to avoid the worst of the winter seems to have completely failed. I was blasted by horizontal hail on my first two hour fell run of the block and then frozen into a human ice block the next day during three hours on the bike when the temperature resolutely refused to go about freezing.

The only part of me that remained warm was my feet as I’d covered them in embrocation as an anti frozen feet experiment. It worked but they’re still burning now more than 24 hours later and are searingly painful if I put them in even vaguely warm water. I had to shower avoiding getting water on my feet this morning. Not easy, I can tell you, but precarious wet tiles balancing drills have to be good for core stability.

I’d also forgotten how skull crushingly dull riding Zone 1-2 on the turbo was but, surrounded by 1:4 hills in almost every direction, if I want a recovery spin it’s my only option. What sort of twisted masochist misses high intensity turbo interval sessions? Oh well though, just three months til Oulton Park, it can only get better… can’t it?

For more on Powerman Zofingen, head to www.powerman.ch

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