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

Getting back up again

Last night I joined a gym for the first time in years. This foot injury seems like a good opportunity for me to work on my strength and flexibility; things I’ve not paid much attention to since I started this whole ‘get fit again’ thing last year.

It felt familiar to walk into the gym this morning to do my first session. I have a book The Outdoor Athlete in which are listed a range of strength programs specifically suited to outdoor athletes, like mountain bikers, hikers, trail runners and mountaineers. The programs are separated into phases from ‘return after absence from gym work’ through to ‘strength and endurance’.

I am starting out with the easiest two routines for the next 2-3 weeks. It will allow me to assess where my muscular strength is at and build on it safely. My goal is not to bulk up but to strengthen my body to help reduce the risk of further injury after the ones I have are healed.

I started my session with 10 minutes on the stationery bike. The gym has some nice triathlon bike inspired machines complete with tri bars and fully adjustable saddles. While it was boring, I was able to settle into a nice 105RPM cadence for the full 10 minutes and didn’t once have to worry about a traffic light or idiot in a car trying to kill me. So there were some benefits.

After my aerobic warm up I hit the weights. I started out light today because my body’s not used to doing repeated strength movements and I don’t know what my limits are. I did 2 sets of 12 reps for each exercise with a 60 second rest between each set.



Barbell back squat


Dumbell overhead press




Dumbell shrug


One-arm dumbbell row


Ball leg curl


Lat pull down


Leg extension

30kg / 20kg

The barbell back squat put a bit too much pressure on my injured foot so I need to find an alternative exercise; I’ll do some online research today.

After pumping iron I returned to the aerobic machines. I started out trying the eliptical machine but it hurt my foot too much so I swapped to the reclining stationery bicycle. I cycled for 10 minutes at 115RPM. I wanted to keep my legs spinning, rather than pushing heavy loads because I’m currently not allowed to cycle uphill due to the strain I put on my calf at the weekend when I aggravated my shin splints. I think the high RPM cycling is probably really good for me though because I got a good sweat up and it will help me increase my cadence both when cycling on the road and when I get back to running.

Total: Weights + 20 minutes stationery bike.

Spills and giggles on the MTBs

At the end of our evening ride

“Would you like to come mountain biking at Days Road at 4:30pm?”

I’m glad I said ‘yes’. My friends and I spent a fun hour cruising around Bayview Conservation Park on our mountain bikes. One of the girls has just got a brand new bike that she was trying out. We were all rolling in stitches within a few minutes when she fell off while doing donuts at the trail head. She couldn’t get her feet out of her cleats and fell off. Let me clarify that she didn’t hurt herself.

We rode the You’re Kidding trail then rode some fire trails before squeezing in a second cruise down You’re Kidding before the sun went down. While it did hurt my foot a little bit, I enjoyed being outdoors in the bush.

Total: 10km MTB at unknown pace.

Cross training in the garden

Heavy work = good cross training

After going out for a run with Brisbane Bayside Runners and Walkers this morning, I got stuck back into the garden. I spent 4-5 hours yesterday and 3 hours today working hard in the garden to create a new garden out of what was a weed fest. It is proving to be excellent cross-training.

The weed fest

This is the task that faced me a few weeks ago when I spent two full days pulling out the huge and plentiful weeds, loading them into a ute and taking them all to the rubbish dump.

How it looked yesterday morning

Yesterday morning I decided to start creating the new garden bed that will replace the weedy mess that has grown in the bottom garden. To achieve my goal, I had to dig out all the grass using a mattock and spade. It was backbreaking work in the hot sun. Over the past two days I managed to remove the top layer of earth, including grass and roots for an area 25m (82 feet) long and increasing from 1m (3 feet) to 2.5m (8 feet) wide.

The hill; hard work with a loaded barrow and flat tyre

I had to shift every heavy load of dirt and grass to the front of our block, about 70m from where I dug it up, where we have a low point that needs to be raised. To get it there I had to push the wheel barrow up a short steep hill that climbs 2.5m in height over the space of about 10m (25% grade). To make things even more interesting, my wheel barrow has a flat tyre. Not just a soft tyre but one that is totally flat because it got a nail through it a month ago.

The result

After removing the rubbish, I dug large deep holes for each plant. Our soil is heavy clay so it was hard work digging the one square metre (10 square foot) holes about 2ft deep. I then filled the holes and surrounding garden bed with topsoil. To shift the 1.5 cubic metres (2 cubic yards) of toptopsoil I had to shovel it into the wheelbarrow out of the ute. I then had to push it downhill on the flat tyre. I then planted the shrubs and mulched the area with 1 cubic metre of forest mulch.

I still have another 20m (60ft) x 3m (10ft) to dig out, plant up and mulch. I’m sure it will make great cross training for another day.

The end result will be amazing. We’ve planted native plants that flower and attract bees. This will both prevent the weeds taking over again, create colour and, importantly, entice bees to our garden so they can pollinate our vegetable and fruit trees so that I can fuel my body with high quality home grown organic fuel.

Total: 6.5km club run at unknown pace and 3 hours heavy gardening.