It’s just another race
It’s seems a lifetime ago that I started training for the New York Marathon, but here I am just 8 weeks away to what for me, is a life changing journey. For those of you who know of me, you’d be aware that I have already completed three Ironman events – so what makes this race so important?
I want to run a marathon, not walk it. I want to train my body to be its best possible version, so I can see what it can do. But it will mean a whole new way of training and assistance from someone who’s had experience with a respiratory patient.
When training for previous events I’ve always trained in low heart rate zones, following a more generic training program and generally under 150 bpm (beats per minute). This form of training has served me well but hasn’t allowed me to improve my speed.
So how do I fix that? I enlisted the services of a personal trainer with experience in training with a COPD patient. Coach Doug and I have been mates since we were kids and have trained together for over 10 years.
Doug has seen my health deteriorate and has taken an interest in my journey, so instead of being my training partner Doug, is now my coach. He is well equipped to do the job as he’s a qualified personal trainer, conditioning coach and has studied pulmonary rehabilitation. Doug has trained many clients and helped them overcome their own personal challenges, and wanted to help me with my goals.
We sat down earlier this year and discussed what I wanted to achieve including what I thought my limitations were. After a month of research Doug sent me a customised 26 week training program to look over. I loved it! The program challenges long held theories on how a COPD patient should exercise, it’s tough, it pushes me to my limits and yet is planned well to give my body good recovery time. I still need to monitor my HR and oxygen levels but this is a necessity in any case.
Four years ago, I couldn’t imagine being able to run up a hill or to be able to sprint the length of a football field. Last week I did both, except I ran up 5 hills and had a sprint race against a 21 year old athlete with some surprising results.
It’s about the time!!
When I sat down with Doug, he asked me what my time goal was for the New York marathon – “Under 6 hours was my answer”. Doug’s response was – “You need to set a specific time – 5 hours 45 minutes!” To put it in perspective, a stage IV COPD Patient like myself would firstly not expect to walk too far, if at all. Secondly, if they could walk, their pace might be 4kph for 5 minutes. I’m planning to run at 7.5kph for the entire race, 42.2km.
This goal hasn’t shifted: it will be tough and my training has suggested I’ll be pushing my limits to get there, but I certainly will be giving it my all.
I’m now 18 weeks into the program. I have just finished the second phase of the program – building endurance, and it has become apparent that the targeted training program I’ve followed is responsible for some big changes. At the time of writing this article I’ve hit some personal bests in training. I have done my fastest 1km and fastest 5km since being diagnosed back in 2011. I’ve also been able to run 25km – another first.
Day to day I feel stronger and less breathless and am only experiencing fatigue after long runs and working a 12 hour day.
From the start coach Doug suggested we film a Documentary of this journey as we thought there would be some applications in what we’re doing for many respiratory patients. This has certainly been the case so far and we’re confident to have the results to support our theory thanks to some before and after PFT (pulmonary function test) and exercise stress testing.
The job is not yet completed, but with the third and final phase of training about to begin, we are quietly confident that we are on the right path and the goal is definitely achievable. I am looking forward to getting to the start line so I can really push the limits.