Chamonix Diaries: Day 4, June 2nd 2017

Friday. The end of the work week, which for me means that I get to switch off and forget about working until Monday. Not dissimilar to if I was in London, but for the first time since I have arrived, I feel more like I am on a running holiday. After struggling to find balance with this working remote business, I’ve managed to find some semblance of routine and boundaries for the mechanics of what and how I do my work. The guilt present on Monday has pretty much receded, and the world hasn’t ended on the occasions I’ve taken a three hour lunch-break to tag a peak and enjoy the mountain trails. So as I knew, the main issue was mental and mostly irrational. Regardless, it’s the weekend and I get two big days in the mountains. I’ve also decided that I won’t be logging on to my work computer until Sunday night (to clear some items before Monday, so I can have a sleep in and get some much needed recovery after what will end up being a monster week of training).

The weather was sensational today, one of the warmest days this week. There was little cloud cover, so I took the opportunity to head up the VK (vertical kilometre) course (I didn’t miss the start like I did on Tuesday). The VK is an iconic Chamonix route, and basically follows the chairlifts to Plan Plaz (2000m) straight up the mountain, in very steep and short switchbacks. It’s about 3kms, but you climb a km, thus a vertical kilometre. As you get higher, they have fixed ropes, ladders and hand/foot holds as it gets steep and requires some scrambling. You arrive at the top, right under the chair lifts, having followed them basically straight up the mountain, arriving to the top in the most direct line. The other trails up to Plan Plaz are far gentler trails, which add at least an extra 2kms or so of running to take you all the way up. I saw some locals, or what I assumed to be locals running up and down the VK course as I made my way up. I took a few moments periodically to take some photos and enjoy the view. The entire valley is full of postcard perfect panoramas, and it is always so awe inspiring to just observe. I spent about 20 minutes just sitting on a rock at the top of Plan Plaz enjoying those views (and the solitude as I was the only person up there). My time on the VK was 50 minutes, which included taking photos and a few pauses to enjoy the view. I ran steadily, but wasn’t pushing it much either. So a decent time, and I am curious as to how fast I could run it if I did push. The Course Record is 28 minutes, and Killian Jornet has a 30 minute time from when he raced it a few years back. A seriously fast time to get al the way up. It’s a great pure climb to do, as it keeps you very honest.

Descending back to Chamonix, I went off to the left (facing out towards the other side of the valley), to find a new route back to Chamonix. Running on roads (and actual ski pistes), I got some speed and some nice eccentric loading on the quads, before hitting the single track which put me more into a rhythm. No surprise, it was just gorgeous running all the way back, where I passed a waterfall and enjoyed a nice fill of cold mountain water (to drink and to dunk my head) before I took the final turn which would take me back to Chamonix. My legs and body feel good, despite the massive amounts of vert I have put on them. This is by far the highest amount I’ve done in a training week and outside of a race. I have two back to back long runs to do this weekend, roughly 20 miles on both days which will see me spending 5-8 hours out in the mountains. I’ve over 60kms on my legs this week, and over 5300m of elevation. I came out here to really get serious about my WS training, and this has 100% been taken care off. I have a good week left of running, and already feel the difference the change in training has done. Plus, there isn’t anywhere else I’d rather be running. London is great, but I’d trade running on the roads and parks there for a mountain in an instant. I’m spoilt by the Chamonix trails. The biggest mountain range in Europe, with endless trails to run, all incredibly well marked and laid out for runners like me. Plus, there is plenty of gelato waiting at the finish. Cheers to the weekend, and some big days in the mountains.

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