Our glorious leader was away, but in the words of Starship, nothing’s gonna stop us now. Tony Leary had given us some inspiration during the week, anyway, treating Rebecca Cohen to a low-rig experience over a river on her birthday; and as some of us are taking on the Virtual Three Peaks Challenge organised by James Burton and The Wolfpack’s 2017 Strive Challenge to raise money for Big Change, a UK youth charity, we need to get in some elevation at all available opportunities, because St Albans is pretty flat. We have 100 days to run or hike the elevation of the UK Three Peaks Challenge – 3,407m (11,178ft). If we succeed we “get some shiny bling in the post to honour your achievement and of course super-human calves” – so hill repeats was always going to be on the agenda, as was clear from the initial communication from Rebecca, “Hi James- r u doing virtual 3 peak challenge? I am and thinking if 4 of us training in morning, we could do hill reps in Verulam then come to mine for rig work ( I have injured shoulder so won’t go mad on rig!) Will message Kirsten too and see what she thinks.” A plan was definitely forming, and was very quickly confirmed by Kirsten Whitehouse, “Plan for tomorrow: meet in Verulam museum car park for 7:30am start. Session will focus on hills – feel free to bring any carries or whatever you want to focus on. We will leave the park at 8:20 and head to Rebecca’s for some rig work. Finish by 9:15 as always.” I managed to fall asleep again after my alarm in the morning, so it took a brisk walk down to get me to the car park for 0730, immediately seeing Kirsten and Rebecca, and also Daniel Spears and Coach Tony Campbell, and not long after I arrived, Matt Stewart also drove up and parked.
Rebecca had brought along some equipment, as had Coach Tony Campbell, and we got that sorted to take it over to where we would be training. Coach Tony Campbell made the point of how quiet it was this morning, in Coach Tony Leary’s absence.
We took the kit we were going to be using to the open ground near to the gap which leads into the field next to the road, and began a warm up under the guidance of Coach Tony Campbell. It must have been a rigorous warm up because Matt managed to split his shorts, which we got the full benefit of later on.
And then, almost before we realised it, Rebecca was off running up the hill, dragging a tyre behind her, so we all got on with our own training, which was varied, due to the differing levels of injury within the group.
Daniel and Coach Tony took to the battle ropes, Matt and Kirsten did sandbag carries, and I decided to stick with doing basic hill repeats, completing 5 in the time available. It was a good opportunity for me to try them out to determine if they were suitable for the next part of my 10K training plan. There was good encouragement along the way as we passed each other.
Coach Tony was taking Kirsten through a serious of drills for her shoulder, so I joined in with that because I am always looking for ways to better my shoulder mobility. It had been a good little session, and I had covered 4.6 kilometres with 111 metres of elevation in 47 minutes and 33 seconds. We took all the kit back to the cars and then drove over to Rebecca’s house. I had wondered if we would be running to get there, but this was a far better idea.
The rig looked excellent. By which I mean it looked way beyond my capabilities. Rebecca showed us how to do it. By which I mean she absolutely smashed it !!!
She climbed up on to the rope traverse, got across that to a trapeze bar, moved on to some bars, rings, a hanging tyre, and another traverse. Coach Tony had a go, and demonstrated some different techniques, although I honestly believe you have to be part gorilla to be able to use them. Daniel had a few attempts, improving each time, benefiting from the advice the group were providing, with Rebecca and Kirsten able to pitch in as well as Coach Tony, and really showed us how to use the trapeze bar.
Matt was working on his monkey bar technique. I did some hanging around on the rings and the bars to work on my grip strength, tried the rope traverse until it began to hurt and burn because I only had short socks on, and also got back on a rope, working through the excellent advice I had received at the Wild Forest Gym from Tristan Steed (and, no, I am not going to shut up about that any time soon !!!), again until I started to burn the bottom of my legs on the rope.
I must get some longer socks. And more upper body strength. And less weight. Rebecca had disappeared and soon came back with tea, coffee and bacon sandwiches – the real reason why I come to these training sessions.
It had been another excellent morning training with an awesome group of friends.