So I’m training for this thing. I might have mentioned it a few times. Once or twice maybe. I’m skiing to the South Pole later this year. Alone. Did I say I had to carry all my sh*t with me - food, kit, comms equipment- for around 40 days. I’ll have to ski at least 17 miles a day dragging aforementioned sh*t. For that, I’m going to have to train. Hard. I’ll be burning up to 10,000 calories a day with the effort.
I started training on Christmas Eve (to avoid the otherwise-inevitable food and sitting-down binge over the festive period). So I’m week six or seven or something. Already. Time is passing frighteningly quickly. I’m seeing the effects - I’m faster. I have something like abs. But there have been some more unexpected effects.
I’m in a relationship with my coach. No, no, no, not like that. In fact, we’ve only ever met in person once. But I trust Jon at E3 Endurance Coaching completely to get me as ready as possible. Every day, an email pops into my inbox with the day’s training. And so I do it. We message a lot about goals, calories, whatever. I know he’s watching my social media (checking up on me? Maybe!!) and I don’t want anything other than a clean sheet on my app at the end of the week saying I’ve done what he told me to.
Early starts are hard. I hate them. Yes, it makes me feel badass when I’m up and out, greeting the dawn and the early morning workers, watching the city where I live come to life. But when it’s cold and dark, it’s not an appealing thought from indoors. I don’t sleep that well when I know I have a 0530 start, ironically. Which is no help at all. My alarm clock is not my friend.
Logistics. Throw on your PE kit and go out? It’s not quite that simple. Different kit for different types of training (where the hell did I put my trail shoes. Oh wait, I think they’re still outside. In the rain). I train before work, at lunchtimes and after work, so I dread arriving sweaty and muddy after hill reps having forgot my towel, my shoes, or worse. Early starts (see above) mean the chances of arriving to pull a tyre up a local hill without my harness are fair to middling on any given day.
The food. I wasn’t expecting to be ravenous. All. The. Time. Even when I’ve just eaten I could eat almost straight afterwards. My desk resembles my whole attitude to food: a schizophrenic and totally unscientific mix of healthy snacks and donuts and cheese. I’ve no idea how many calories I’m burning with all this training, nor am I counting my macros (should I be? What are macros anyway?). I should probably consult an expert but for now, put food in front of me and it disappears fairly rapidly.
I’ve realised that I’ve made it sound bad. The early starts, the continuous washing, my children stepping over me doing core or waiting for their story while I (religiously) stretch. But what it’s brought more than anything is confidence. Why I’m surprised that training is working, I’ve no idea. I think it’s partly that I’m not working at 110% on every session, like I imagined it would be (thus avoiding injury so far), partly that I’ve stuck with it so faithfully. It works. I can see the difference in my mind and my body. The results only serve to drive me on. I’d better stop there. I have an early session.
Image: Tom Askew-Miller