A Journal for Those Stuck at Home

Over the Hill: Final Preparation for Running the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB)

TMB 5 day run Profile copy

It has been a busy few months, juggling projects, including big edits on my book project, Josef’s Lair, working the bread-and-butter job, cross-country training, and, of course, home life. Just ahead, in two weeks, I board a plane for Geneva, beginning my 5 day running adventure in the Alps.

I know the time is approaching, because this week is my last week of training up, before I start the taper. What does a week of final training look like, you ask?

Day 1: Sprint intervals at the track (1 hour).

Day 2: Interval hill training on the bike (1 hour).

Day 3: Trail Running with a loaded backpack (2 hours).

Day 4: Rest day (chasing my son around Fort York).

Day 5: Morning, trail running, with some walking (4 hours). Afternoon, EMS (electrical muscle stimulation) legs.

Day 6: Gym: legs, core, and upper body strength training.

Day 7: Tempo run (50min). Evening, EMS legs.

Day 8: Sprint intervals at the track (1 hour). And, yes, you can always squeeze an 8th day out of the week.

The back-to-back workouts force the body to recover more quickly, which is important for a 5 day run through the Alps, where every day I’ll be covering between 27 and 42 kilometres of trails and 2000 meters of ups and downs. Of course, doing double-workouts, there is an increased risk of injury or running down your immune system. The key is to listen to your body (back off when necessary), eat lots of fruits and veggies and other whole foods, and focus on active recovery like walking or an easy bike ride between workouts (so the body keeps moving without getting stressed).

One last training note: Most of the time, I try to train with little food and water, so the body adapts to doing more with less. Then when the event that is the focus of my training arrives, I add more calories and hydration, to maximize performance, longevity, and speed-up recovery.

But even with all the thought I’ve put into my training in the flats of Toronto, I don’t think I can really prepare for the length or steepness of the TMB. Everything I’ve read says the climbs on the route are long and steep. In the end, it’s going to be all about on-the-job training. My plan is to ease into the 170 kilometre trail and not sprint out the gate. After a few days, of back to back walking/running, I’m banking on my body adjusting to the increased workload (that’s a direct request to the running gods, please and thank you).

For me, tackling the Tour du Mont Blanc is about a big experience, about soaking up a beautiful place and writing about it for Outpost Magazine. I’m not setting out to face unnecessary danger or suffer needlessly. I’ve trained hard, because I actually want to enjoy my time in the mountains. And the reality is, I have a lot to live for — a beautiful family, great friends, and a meaningful life — so if this year’s snow is just too dangerous to cross at the high passes, then I’ll opt to take the lower routes (I will be packing crampons and trekking poles just in case I encounter snow fields).

So with this last week of sharpening and maximizing my training load coming to a close, I will quickly reduce the length of my workouts.  Then it’ll be all about packing up gear and food, reviewing maps, and really just giving myself some time to be excited about the adventure. Liberation often comes from stepping outside our familiar, our comfort zone, and having a meaningful exchange with our environment. That’s what I’m seeking, anyway.

I hope to tweet regularly from the TMB, so if you’re interested in checking in, you can follow me @RobertBrodey.

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