I ran hill repeats yesterday. I’ve not done that for a long time and in keeping with my nicknames for other workouts I think I’ll call that session “The Reaming”. Today my body said ‘no running’ and I listened, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend the whole bloody day sitting here like a melting blancmange.
I’ve been looking into different training programmes for my next marathon training phase, and I might give FIRST / Run Less Run Faster a try. This one has you running fewer miles but running much higher intensity workouts and faster pace. In between it prescribes cross-training, and so I thought I’d go do a bit of cross-training today instead.
So I took my bike out. I ride rarely these days as I just don’t enjoy it as much as I do running. I recently got a new bike – it’s a Charge Plug 1 – a single speed effort which I’ve set up with a freewheel. I did try fixed gear and almost fucking died. It’s good though, simple and solid and riding round here is great with no gears. The landscape is all drumlins so it’s a constant undulation and without gears you get to work quite hard but in short bursts.
I rode it out following one of my regular running routes through the moorland north of where I live and then I remembered the “Vita Parcours” in the forest up there. It’s an exercise circuit made up of various bits of wooden outdoor equipment, each of which has a sign suggesting which exercises you can do on them. There are 498 of these throughout Switzerland, with a combined course length of 1119km.
Now I’ve never actually seen anyone using a Vita Parcours, despite them being all over the place, well maintained, unvandalized, and free to use. I run through there a lot and I’ve yet to witness somebody actually getting it on.
I had a go.
The first obstacle I tackled was a log laid down on the ground, with smaller logs coming out of it at right angles along the length. The idea is to jump forwards over the smaller logs and sideways over the main log. Some kind of plyometric hopscotch thing. Harder than it looks, but not too taxing – I give that one a 6/10.
The next one was a sort of fence thing with cross bars at different heights. The exercises suggested here are inclined push-ups, either regular (facing down) or kinky (facing up). I’ve done the limbo through these on a hash before. I had a go at both official exercises and because I’m really shit at bodyweight exercises and anything upper-body I found this one hard. I guess that means I have to do it more, right ? 4/10
Moving on, there were more logs. This time laid out in a sort of children’s adventure playground interpretation of a railway track. It’s another plyometric jobby, this time you have to do two-footed frog-jumps over all the horizontal log sections. I think with a bit of practice this one could be really good – you know, if you lift your knees right up and jump high. I’m not so advanced yet. 8/10.
And finally the last one I tried (and there are many more I either have not found or didn’t try) was a horizontal pull-up bar. There are 3 exercises described. One is ‘hang off the bar and breathe slowly for 15 seconds’. I tried that one, and my hand hurt – I’ll try again with gloves on some time. The next one is pull up ‘up’ position and hold it. Finally actual pull-ups. This is my nemesis as my upper body strength is less than that of my 2 year old son. I gave it a bash anyway – I guess I need to stick at it. 2/10.
All in all it suits me better than a gym but I know it’s probably not as effective. I’ll try and do it once per week and then at least the local councils can rest easy knowing at least one person is actually using these things.