Tag Archives: Training

Morning walk and pack review

I went out for a 6km pack walk this morning with my partner. It’s been over a week since we last went walking together, so this morning’s wander was just lovely. My pack weight is now 11.8kg and I’m finding that the slow increments are working well to help me adjust to the weight. By the time I tackle the 250km Great North Walk, I’ll be fit enough to carry everything I’ll need for the 13 day experience.

This morning I thought I’d review my hiking pack. It’s a Blackwolf Glacier Bay 75. I bought the pack in either 2005 or 2006 (I am leaning towards 2005). Blackwolf no longer make this model but no doubt the review will give those looking for an entry-level pack some idea of the general quality of Blackwolf’s packs.

To help visualise my pack in all its glory, I made a short video. Please forgive the ‘Amateur Hour’ presentation: I’m not really a video guy.

As you can see, after 7-8 years in service, my pack is still in good condition. This is through no special care or attention on my part. The bag has been dragged through mud, dropped in the ocean, smashed against rocks, covered in sand and left neglected in a cupboard when not in use. I’ve never washed or cleaned the pack, other than a quick hose off when it’s been too muddy to store in the cupboard at home. The pack’s been strapped to the back of a motorbike that traveled down highways at 100kph and along gravel roads at speeds up to 80kph. It’s been thrown in airplane luggage compartments, and has survived the hustled and bustle of being worn on busy commuter trains.

The pack sits in the budget / entry level market. At the time I bought it, the price of a reasonable quality hiking pack at outdoors stores was about $AU300-500. This pack only set me back $AU120 from an Army disposal store.

The pros of this pack:

  • it’s obviously robust
  • it’s narrow so great for bushwalking along single track
  • it’s easy to adjust and has plenty of adjustments for different body shapes and sizes
  • the optional separator in the lower section of the pack means you can keep wet clothes or shoes separate from your other gear but you can also just use the pack as a single compartment unit.

The cons of this pack:

  • it’s not as lightweight as some of the more expensive options on the market
  • it doesn’t have a fancy higher-end brand blazoned on it (no offense intended to Blackwolf) so you might not get taken as seriously on face value as others who spent more on their packs.

At the end of the day, I have looked at newer more expensive packs over the past few years with the thought of upgrading. But I’ve never found anything that I can justify spending money on when this old faithful is still functional, comfortable and in good condition despite the abuse I’ve hurled at it.

Total: 6km walk with 11.8kg pack.


Thinking about 2013

While I was out walking with my partner this morning, I started talking with her about lifestyle issues, including my long-term goals. My long-term goal is to run a 100 miler. But I am realistic and know it’s going to take 2-3 years of solid and sensible preparation to get to a point where I could confidently toe the start line of a 100 miler and be as certain as possible that I’ve adequately prepared for the event (there’s no guarantees with ultra marathons).

So that’s my goal: to run a 100 miler sometime between mid-2014 and late-2015. In the mean time, I have a lot of preparation to complete. And the first step is to get through the next 12 months unscathed and with sufficient patience to build my mileage.

Tonight I’ve worked through the trail running, Audax and adventure racing calendars for 2013 and have identified a cool range of events that I think I’d like to complete during 2013. I have selected the races based on the realistic expectation that I’ll be starting my running training again by January and able to run 5km by March. I have also invited my sister to be my team mate for the adventure races, which are almost all 2-person affairs. My sister and I make a good adventure racing team because neither of us take things too seriously.

So here’s my shortlist of events for 2013:


  • 1st – 11 out of Eleven 100km Audax Australia road cycle
  • 12th – Moonlight Wander 200km Audax Australia night road cycle


  • 3rd – Brisk Beaudesert 100km Audax Australia road cycle
  • 8th – City Raid night scavenger hunt
  • 16th – Kayak Kapers 4 hour kayakgaine


  • 9th – Kathmandu Adventure Race (2-4km kayak, 15-25km MTB, 5-10km trail run)
  • 24th – iAdventure Sprint Adventure Race (3-5km kayak, 12-18km MTB, 7-10km trail run)


  • 13th – 1 Lump of Two 200km Audax Australia road cycle
  • 27th – Rogue 24 hour Adventuregaine


  • 18th – Bicentennial Century 100km Audax Australia MTB
  • 19th – Adventure Race Australia (< 35km MTB, <15km trail run)


  • 1st – iAdventure Sprint Adventure Race (3-5km kayak, 12-18km MTB, 7-10km trail run)
  • 15th – Berry Good 200km Audax Australia road cycle


  • 6th – Gatton Gamble 300km Audax Australia road cycle
  • 14th – Tre-X Off-Road Duathlon (8km trail run, 30km MTB, 4km trail run)
  • 21st – Pomona King of the Mountain trail run


  • 11th – Logan’s Run 70km MTB marathon
  • 24th – iAdventure 8 hour adventure race (8-11km kayak, 25-33km MTB, 12-16km trail run)


  • 14th – Stampede 5km mud run
  • 29th – Mangrove to Mountains 150km Audax Australia road cycle


  • 5th – Downs and Back 600km Audax Australia road cycle
  • 19th – Scenic Rim 1,000km Audax Australia road cycle


  • 3rd – iAdventure Sprint Adventure Race (3-5km kayak, 12-18km MTB, 7-10km trail run)
  • 15th – 18 hour Dark Side Adventure Race or 12 hour Dawn Attack Adventure Race

So every walk and geocaching session now has a purpose and that makes me feel a lot better. I am goal oriented and have tried to be more process oriented but it’s just not me. Acknowledging this allows me to set goals and work towards them.

I think each event will be achievable and will fit nicely within the training schedule I want to follow for my trail running because I only want to run 3-4 days a week in 2013 while cycle commuting and playing around on my MTB. There are no trail runs on the calendar because we don’t have shorter trail runs in Queensland: we largely have 25 – 100km events. So, to take pressure off, I am going to focus on multisport and adventure race events, which I totally love.

Total: 3.5km walk

A solid gym session

Image coutesy of idea go / Freedigitalphotos.net

I never thought I’d like going to the gym to do weights but I have to say I am enjoying it. I feel strong when I pump iron. I don’t lift big weights because I don’t want to get huge but the weights I lift are a suitable size for me right now.

I am not a big fan of stationary aerobic equipment but I am learning that they can be beneficial. For example, I’m sure my road cycling will improve through my use of the stationary bike. The stationary bike encourages me to spin. There are no obstacles, hills or corners to negotiate so I can teach my legs to keep up a higher than usual cadence without complaining. I’ve always been the type of cyclist who pushes big gears and breaks bottom brackets. Perhaps a few months watching the cadence metre on the stationary bike will encourage me to become a cyclist who is able to spin efficiently all day long instead of being the guy who keeps having to stand on the pedals up every little hill and then rest my legs on the way down.

The rowing machine also has good purpose for me. I can use it as an alternative to cycling and swimming to recruit more muscles to the aerobic exercise. It’s not all that exciting sliding back and forward on the spot but I do get a kick out of watching the measurements on the display. There’s an instant gratification to being able to see that I’m rowing at 43 strokes per minute or passing each 500m mark. Also, rowing is a sport I just don’t have the equipment to do out in the real world. Not only do I not have a boat, but even if I did it would quite difficult to get it to the water on my motorbike. I can feel my back and thigh muscles toning as I use them to row.

And, of course, there’s always the guilty pleasure of checking myself out in the mirrors as I lift weights in the free weights room. 😉

Today I started with 10 minutes on the triathlon-style stationary bike, riding at 110-115 RPM and covering 5.4km. I followed this with 10 minutes on the rowing machine, stroking at 43 strokes/minute and covering 2,180m.

I completed 3 sets of 8 repetitions in the weights room:

Exercise Weight
Incline dumbbell bench press 12.5km / dumbbell
Leg curl 45kg
Seated row 35kg
Bent arm pull-over 7.5kg + barbell
Chin up 6 + 4 + 3
Dumbbell bicep curls 10kg / dumbbell
Back ext Body weight
Decline crunch Body weight

I completed my workout with a 5 minute cool-down on the reclining stationary bike, riding at just 90RPM and covering just 2.1km. I usually try to do 10 minutes after my weights workout but I didn’t have time today because I was getting a lift to work.

Total: Weights +

  • 10 mins stationary bike @ 110-115RPM covering equivalent of 5.4km
  • 10 mins rowing machine @ 43 s/m covering equivalent of 2,180m
  • 5 mins reclining stationary bike @ 90RPM covering equivalent of 2.1km.

A cruise with Mum

I went on a cruise with Mum this morning. We drove down to Victoria Point, and rode our bikes along the water and through random suburban streets. We covered 25.90km chatting away. It felt good to be spinning on my bike in the sunshine. I’d share a photo of our ride except the only one we took is blurry.

The bike ride was lovely and I’m feeling more positive about getting into the longer distance cycling. I’m even looking at learning how to maintain my own bike. I want to start by replacing the chain and rear cassette, replacing the tyres and brake pads, and adjusting the deraileurs. It doesn’t sound like much but for me it’s a big step because I’ve never done any bicycle maintenance myself; I barely even wash my bike.

Excitingly, my parents are buying me a bicycle headlight as a belated birthday present. I’ve shortlisted it to (I’ve linked to All Season’s Cyclist’s blog for some of the lights because he’s done great reviews):

I am excited about getting into cycling again. I used to do it a lot then lost confidence. I’ve been working on getting it back the past 15 months and am ready to take things a step further. Learning to maintain my bike and having the right gear (e.g. not a headlight held on by duct tape) will make me more comfortable and confident so that I can enjoy the scenery rather than worrying about being stranded if something breaks 🙂

Total: 25.90km cycle @ 22.1kph. 128m elevation gain.

‘Bayside Runners and Swimmers’

Image courtesy of vorakorn / Freedigitalphotos.net

I’m part of the Brisbane Bayside Runners and Walkers. It’s a social running and walking group here in the Redlands area of Brisbane. I started running with the group in August 2011 and love being part of the family atmosphere.

With the running season coming to an end, there are more and more people from the group hitting the pool. This morning I turned up to find three blokes from the group already gliding through the water. It felt good to have someone to say ‘hello’ to before starting my session. To me, the social element of training makes a big difference.

Set Swimming
Warm up 400m alternating freestyle and breaststroke
Drills 100m pull buoy100m catch up

100m pull buoy

100m one-arm freestyle

Main 800m medium pace with fartlek (8 x 25m sprints)
Exercise 400m freestyle kick
Cool down 100m freestyle100m breaststroke

The 800m swim was the farthest I have swum continuously so I was pleased with my effort, especially because I was able to do the 25m sprints throughout the set.

Total: 2.2km swim

It’s fun to play at the YMCA

Image courtesy of chrisroll / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I intended to do a yoga class at my local YMCA today but I misread the class time. It didn’t matter though because I enjoyed the workout I ended up doing.

I started with 10 minutes on the fancy triathlon-inspired stationary bike. I rode fairly hard today, sitting in the 110-115 RPM range for the whole set. The bike computer said I covered the equivalent of 5.25km.

I followed that with 10 minutes on the rowing machine. I haven’t used a rowing machine in years but always like them. I rowed at an average of 40 strokes/minute and covered the equivalent of 1,997m in the 10 minutes. I could cheat and call it an even 2km but I would only be cheating myself.

After my 20 minutes of cardio I had a nice light sweat going. I then did my weights sets. I got most of the workout from the Outdoor Athlete book I’m reading but couldn’t do two exercises. I added back extensions and bicep curls to the program to replace those two exercises. I completed three sets of eight repeats with 90 seconds rest between each. I kept the weights moderately light because it’s the first time I’ve done this routine.

Exercise Weight
Incline dumbbell bench press 10kg / dumbbell
Leg curl 40kg
Seated row 30kg
Bent arm pull-over 7.5kg + barbell
Chin up 5 + 3+ 3
Dumbbell bicep curls 10kg / dumbbell
Back ext Body weight
Decline crunch Body weight

After my weights set I finished my session with 10 minutes on the reclining stationary bike. I rode at an average of 110RPM and the computer said I completed the equivalent of 5.2km.

My foot felt good during the stationary bike sets so perhaps I will try cycling a real bike sometime this weekend to see how it holds up.


  • 10 mins stationary bike
  • 10 mins rowing machine
  • 30 mins weights
  • 10 mins reclining stationary bike.

Back in the pool


Okay, so I took the photo last year before my underwater camera broke, but it’s one of my favourite photos and seemed appropriate.

I hadn’t swum since April or May so had forgotten how beautiful it is to watch the sunrise through the water droplets falling from my arms. There wasn’t barely a thin glowing orange line on the horizon when I slid into the pool at 5:45am. By the time I finished my warm up, it had spread to a broad orange and yellow band that I could look at every time I breathed on the eastern side of the pool. By my main set the big ball of orange came into view over my right shoulder and I enjoyed the sensation of it’s warmth spreading over the water. By the time I got out of the pool just before 7am the sun was high in the sky above the palm trees. Perhaps I should count myself fortunate for being injured or I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy this start to my day.

As for the swimming itself, it went really well. I think it’s one of the longest sessions I’ve done, which shows how much my fitness and mental toughness have improved since I started long distance running. Last May, when I was training for triathlon, I found it physically and mentally tough to swim 1,500m – 2,000m sessions. However, this morning I found the distance and duration of the session comfortable. I actually looked forward to it, rather than counting down the laps.

I completed my first 1,800m by about 6:30am but then my running friends all started turning up to the pool so the remaining 400m took almost 30 minutes because I just had to stop and say hello to everyone as they arrived. That’s the only thing I don’t like about swimming: you can’t hold a conversation with your head underwater (though I did try).

Set Activities
Warm up 400m easy alternating freestyle and breaststroke.
Drills 400m alternating:

  • catch-up
  • one-arm freestyle stroke
  • 5-stroke breathing
Main 2 x 400m freestyle medium pace
Exercises 400m kicking:

  • 100m breaststroke
  • 300m freestyle
Cool down 200m slow freestyle

Total: 2.2km swim